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The Idea Factory

The Idea Factory: Taste the electrode

Researchers are developing a virtual simulator that uses electricity to mimic the taste of food

Imagine being able to sample any food you wanted, guilt-free. Such is the premise of a virtual taste simulator currently being developed by Nimesha Ranasinghe at the National University of Singapore. It uses a silver electrode to simulate the "four well-known major taste components," says Paul Marks at NewScientist — salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. The device can be used to fool the taste receptors and simulate the tang of soda or the pleasantly bitter aftertaste of fine chocolate. Researchers foresee the technology's use in games and apps, as well as in health care, particularly for weight loss.