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Somebody built a lickable TV. I repeat: A. Lickable. TV.

At the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show 2022, you will no doubt hear plenty from TV and speaker companies about making the home viewing and listening experience more immersive. But if you want the ultimate in immersive realism, you’ll have to wait patiently for the world’s first lickable TV to make its way to stores.

Yes, you read that right. A Japanese professor has developed a prototype lickable TV screen, according to Reuters, that can imitate food flavors you can experience with your own taste buds. The invention is called Taste the TV (TTTV), and while it’s merely a prototype right now, its inventor, Meiji University professor Homei Miyashita, reckons it could be mass-produced for 100,000 yen (about $875).

⚡️ “Professor creates a lickable TV screen that can imitate food flavors” by @Reuters

— Reuters (@Reuters) December 23, 2021

Now, before you start salivating at the idea of being able to run your tongue over your TV screen during an episode of Master Chef, you may want to adjust your expectations. Miyashita’s device can indeed simulate flavors, but these synthetic tastes must be sprayed onto a surface before you can start licking. In a video demonstrating how the TTTV works, tastes are sprayed onto a rolling transparent sheet of plastic, which then slides over an almost horizontal video screen.

TTTV: 味わうテレビ、誕生。 (TTTV: Taste Display with spray-mixing method)

But the video screen doesn’t need to be the lickable ingredient. The same tastes can be sprayed onto any disposable plastic, like a tray, or directly onto food. In one example from the accompanying video, crackers are sprayed with a variety of “toppings.”

To create the tastes, a series of 10 canisters, each containing a specific chemical compound, work together much like the red, yellow, cyan, and black inks in an inkjet printer combine to make up all of the colors you can put onto a sheet of paper. And like the inkjet, the canisters will need to be periodically refilled.

Miyashita’s invention could obviously be used to enhance TV shows and movies, but in the video, several other uses are suggested and a lot of them feel much more practical than waiting for that tastable In-N-Out Burger ad to come back on. Tastable menus for restaurants, games based on guessing flavors, and even a video training program for would-be sommeliers are among the possibilities.

And in a move that will probably have Amazon, Apple, and Google drooling with envy, the TTTV can even respond to voice commands:

“Hey TTTV.”

“What do you want to eat?”

“I want some sweet chocolate.”

“Sweet chocolate. All right.”

All right, indeed.

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Simon Cohen
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