Ever find yourself barely able to repress a grimace at your in-laws’ dinner table, or trying desperately not to gag over your beloved’s “famous” tuna casserole they insist on making at least once a week?
Meet your new best friend: the Taste Buddy, an electronic device that tricks your taste buds into enjoying just about anything you throw at them.
Researchers from City University London developed the prototype, which consists of a two-centimeter (0.8 inches) tab attached to a processing device. By placing the tab on a person’s tongue, it’s able to stimulate the taste buds and alter the sense of taste through “thermal and electric signals.”
"What started out as a fun engineering experiment has now led to something much more exciting with the potential to have a positive social impact,” said Professor Adrian Cheok, project leader and professor of pervasive computing at the university.
“The Taste Buddy is a great example of skilled science and engineering working hand in hand with a relevant and fun impact. The Taste Buddy could eventually help save lives, by allowing people to switch to healthier food choices.”
As of right now, the Taste Buddy can only stimulate sweet or salty tastes, but the team hopes they’ll be able to continue tinkering on the device so that it can stimulate all flavors and tastes. The hope is that eventually, they’ll even be able to make tofu taste like steak.
Cheok believes this kind of technology could become widely available over the next 20 years, and could one day be fitted to utensils like cutlery, cups and cans.
If you find yourself in the region of Birmingham, UK, in the spring, you’ll be able to test out the Taste Buddy at the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair, where it will be on public display between March 15 to 18, 2017.