In today's 'science comes up with really funny things' news of the day, a team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has created a prototype interface that lets you taste virtual food.
Dubbed the 'Digital Taste Interface', it has so far managed to replicate four tastes: salty, sweet, sour and bitter.
A fifth taste, the savoury umami flavour, however has still eluded the researchers.
How does it work? What happens is that the tongue is simulated in a way that makes it think it is tasting something via two silver electrodes worn on the tongue itself.
A control module sends the appropriate signals to the electrodes,
One of the researchers, NUS engineer Dr Nimesha Ranasinghe, said that the technology could perhaps be used to help people share meals over the internet. Another application of the service they are working on is a digital lollipop that lets you taste candy without hurting your teeth or waistline. For diabetics, this would be a safer means to satiate sweet tooths.
Other attempts by other researchers at digital tasting have been done before, using mixtures of edible chemicals, said Dr Ranasinghe, but he deemed them unpractical.
Besides the medical applications, this could certainly be a fun tech for, say, games. Perhaps one day people will be selling virtual food on the Internet, who knows? Truly a tasty proposition.