Imagine a world where, instead of grumbling enviously every time your vacationing pal posts a pic of some gorgeous cocktail they’re sipping on the beach, you could enjoy it with them – sort of.
That could soon be the reality now that scientists in Singapore are working on a method of virtually sharing lemonade through the Internet using only a glass of water, LED lights and an electric pulse.
“People are always posting pictures of drinks on social media – what if you could upload the taste as well? That’s the ultimate goal,” Nimesha Ranasinghe, a member of the research team from the National University of Singapore, told New Scientist.
In their experiment – which was presented at the recent Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction in Japan – the researchers used a digital glass of water with an electrode running around its rim. When drinkers touched the glass with their tongues, it delivered an electric pulse that stimulated their taste buds and inspired a sour taste. The researchers made the liquid look like lemonade by using an RGB color sensor and LED lights in three colors – yellow, green and cloudy white.
Thirteen volunteers blind tasted a range of virtual and real-life glasses of lemonade, and were asked to rate the sourness of the drink based on how it looked and tasted. While most of the participants said the real lemonade tasted sourer, the virtual lemonade ‘looked sourer’ – so there’s still some work to be done.
The researchers say they plan to expand the experiment by adding other functions (like scent) and are already working on an “electric lollipop.”
“We’re working on a full virtual cocktail with smell, taste, and color all covered,” said Ranasinghe. "We want to be able to create any drink."