Japanese Scientist Develops TV Screen You Can Taste

  • Can’t see this thing being awfully hygienic in movie theaters.

Modern filmmaking technology can create incredible spectacles for our eyes and ears. But what about our other senses?

To really immerse yourself into a movie, you should be able to also feel, smell, and taste everything the characters do. Now, thanks to a Japanese researcher, we can do at least the latter.

If you feel like getting up from your couch and giving your TV screen a good lick, that is.

Homei Miyashita, a professor at Meiji University, has created a new way for viewers to engage with their favorite shows and movies. With his Taste the TV (TTTV) device, they can now sample the flavors of pretty much anything portrayed on the screen.

The TTTV isn’t an awfully complicated device. Using a carousel of 10 flavoring canisters, it will deposit an appropriate an appropriate taste cocktail onto a thin film that the viewer can then lick off.

And the thing works, apparently. Meiji University student Yuki Hou gave the TTTV a spin at a demonstration event, sampling a milk chocolate flavor.

“Wow, it actually tastes like milk chocolate. It’s sweet and tasty,” she told ABC7.

Turn up the flavor, I can barely taste the movie.

‘Endless Applications’

So, we now have the technology to taste our TV screens. The only question left is — why?

Is this invention necessary? Will your movie experience get significantly better if you can taste what the characters are eating?

According to Miyashita, the TTTV isn’t just about bringing flavor to TV. His ultimate goal is to create a whole new type of media for people to literally consumer.

“I am thinking of making a platform where tastes from all over the world can be distributed as ‘taste content.’ It’s the same as watching a movie or listening to a song that you like,” said Miyashita.

Miyashita believes that “taste content” could help broaden people’s entertainment and cultural horizons. He thinks the technology is particularly suitable for the current pandemic-struck world.

For two years now, people have been stuck in their homes, unable to go out and experience new things — like flavors. With taste devices, they could taste foodstuffs from all around the world, in the comfort of their own living rooms.

“I hope people can, in the future, download and enjoy the flavors of the food from the restaurants they fancy, regardless of where they are based,” Miyashita said.

The scientist said that he’s in talks with companies to produce flavor sprays for food items. With such a device, companies could apply — for example — chocolate, pizza, or truffle flavor onto a piece of bread.

Call us skeptics, but we feel like it just won’t be the same if the food’s texture isn’t right.

Another application, according to Miyashita, could be in training food professionals, like chefs and sommeliers.

More Digital Flavors

The TTTV isn’t the first flavorful invention Miyashita has made. He has also developed the Taste Display, although unlike the TTTV, it has no display at all.

Instead, the Taste Display resembles a now all too familiar face mask. Inside the mask six different tubes, each loaded with a gel carrying one of the basic tastes.

The tubes transfer gels that produce a sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami flavor. The sixth tube is for a tasteless filler gel to keep the volume of the gel dose constant with every flavor combo.

By altering the strength of the gel flow in each tube, the Taste Display operator can alter the flavor of the gel mix. Miyashita has also created a computer program to do the mixing automatically.

The automation essentially allows Taste Display users to record flavors, kind of like you would a music track. In essence, the technology resembles the TTTV, just in a different package.

“We now have smartphones with cameras, displays, microphones, and speakers. But we’ll soon be able to go further and upload and download our taste experiences,” Miyashita told the National Geographic.

Miyashita has also invented what he calls an “electric fork.” The device can alter the taste of a morsel of food, for example by making it taste saltier without adding salt.

The electric fork technology was originally intended for hospitals. By using it, patients could enjoy food flavored with ingredients they may not be able to actually eat due to health reasons.

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