The Japanese people love their salt, perhaps as much as Americans love their
sugar high fructose corn syrup and caffeine. But none of these are particularly good for you. Although humans do need some salt in their diets to continue existing, the average Japanese person may be eating too much of it on a regular basis — twice the amount recommended by the World Health Organization, according to Reuters. Cue the invention of electric chopsticks, which provide salty flavor without the actual sodium.
No, you won’t get shocked — not even a fresh 9 V to the tongue’s worth. The tips of the chopsticks are made of something food-safe and conductive, and one is wired to a bracelet that contains a small computer. Using a weak current, the chopsticks transmit sodium ions from the food to the tongue, which increases the perceived saltiness by 1.5x. The device was co-created by a Meiji University professor and a Japanese beverage maker, who hope to commercialize it sometime next year.
This isn’t the first time humans have used trickery when it comes to diets. The older among you may remember the miracle berry weight loss craze of the 1970s. When ingested first, miracle berries make sour things taste sweet, so chowing down on grapefruits and lemons suddenly sounds like a good idea. What people failed to realize was that the acidity would still wreak havoc on their teeth and tongues, leaving them regretful the next day.
Images via Reuters
We have headphones for your ears, and monitors for your eyes. Some computers even have tactile feedback. Now researchers have an output device for taste. The decidedly odd device uses five gels, one for each of the tastes humans can sense. If we understand the paper, the trick is that ionizing the gels inhibits the taste of that gel. By controlling the ionization level of each gel, you can synthesize any taste, just like you can make colors with three LEDs.
The five gels are made from agar and glycine (sweet), magnesium chloride (bitter), citric acid (acidic), salt (salty), and glutamic sodium (umami). If you didn’t learn about umami in school, that’s a savory taste likened to the taste of a broth or meat and often associated with monosodium glutamate.
The shape of the device is made like a sushi roll so that while the gels contact the tongue, a copper foil cathode can connect also. Using this will make you look even stranger than someone wearing Google Glass, but that’s the price of being on the cutting edge of technology, we suppose. There doesn’t seem to be any reason you couldn’t duplicate something like this, although we wonder about the hygiene of passing it around at parties. Maybe your next home movie could show a meal and let the viewer taste it too.
If you are wondering about smell, that’s another set of researchers. You would think this is the first taste output device we have seen, but no… surprisingly, it isn’t.
Continue reading “A Tasty Output Device”