People can share what they see and what they hear online, but not what they taste. Food shots are mouthwatering but can’t transmit the flavor of a dish over the Internet. So, a team from the National University of Singapore decided to change all of that and make digital or virtual, if you will, lemonade from a glass of water. #todaymagic
Nimesha Ranasinghe and his team convinced people that the glass of water they were drinking was actually lemonade thanks to a couple of sensors. “People are always posting pictures of drinks on social media – what if you could upload the taste as well? That’s the ultimate goal,” explained Nimesha Ranasinghe the reasonf for their endeavour to New Scientist.
To get close to accomplishing its goal, Ranasinghe and his team used sensors and electrodes to transmit the taste and color of the original drink to a water glass container. First, they used an RGB colour sensor and a pH sensor to measure and record the color and acid levels of a regular, fresh glass of lemonade. Then, they sent the info to a tumbler “hacked” with an electrode and LED light.
Once the virtual drink was ready, the team asked 13 strangers to test both drinks. They were instructed to keep their tongue on the rim of the tumbler while drinking, so that the electrode could transmit the sourness of the real thing. Once the subjects were done, they were asked to tell the level of sourness they felt from each drink and how did the color of the drinks affected their experience. The LED lights from the tumbler were programmed to spread a yellow, green and cloudy white glow.
At the end of the experiment, people said that the real lemonade was more sour than the other one. But they did feel that the virtual lemonade looked more sour, thanks to the bright lights.
This results are certainly encouraging, but scientist have a long way to go until they can simulate the entire range of flavors of a specific drink. Nimesha Ranasinghe told the publication that they are “working on a full virtual cocktail with smell, taste and colour all covered. We want to be able to create any drink”.