A pair of Singaporean scientists are bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “artificial sweetener”.
Nimesha Ranasinghe and Ellen Yi-Luen Do have built a thermal simulation system which mimics the taste of sweetness, paving the way for sugar lovers to cut down on their intake without giving up their favourite flavour.
When a user places their tongue on the system’s thermoelectric element, it stimulates the neurons which control their sense of taste.
The scientists envisage the system being embedded in a glass or mug to make low-sugar drinks taste sweeter, New Scientist reported.
But while the system might work effectively for taste, other scientists are pushing the boundaries of texture simulation.
Arinobu Niijima and Takefumi Ogawa‘s Electric Food Texture System have successfully simulated the experience of chewing different foods.
In their system, the electrodes are placed on a muscle in the jaw which controls chewing.
“There is no food in the mouth, but users feel as if they are chewing some food due to haptic feedback by electrical muscle stimulation,” Niijima told New Scientist.
It can, for example, make a cookie taste harder and chewier, like a gummi bear.
The scientists hope the system will help people with dietary requirements or health problems.
“There are many people who cannot eat food satisfactorily because of weak jaws, allergies, and diet,” Niijima said. “We wish to help them to satisfy their appetite and enjoy their daily life.”
The systems could even be incorporated into a virtual reality headset, simulating the perfect dining experience.