A Silver Electrode that Synthesizes Tastes

Ordinarily, when precious metals and food mix, the results are rather lackluster for the taste buds. While the presentation is nice, precious metals just have no flavor. However, that could change in the near future.

Scientists at the National University of Singapore have developed a “digital taste interface” that uses a pair of silver electrodes placed on the tongue to synthesize the four major tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, and salty). It works by varying alternating temperature and electrical stimulation in such a way that the taste buds are “fooled” into experiencing a taste sensation. One silver electrode controls the temperature, while the other alternates the electric current.

However, the device still has a long way to go before matching the sensation of real food. The silver electrodes can only simulate taste, not necessarily “flavor” – which is influenced by smell and texture.

Although the device is still in developmental stages, there are many proposed applications. Continuing silver’s history of medical usage, the scientists behind the device suggest that it could be useful for allowing diabetics to taste sweetness without elevating their blood sugar levels. It could also help chemotherapy patients improve their sense of taste – which diminishes during therapy. Outside of healthcare, the taste synthesizer could be used for virtual reality and gaming applications. You may be able to taste your favorite cooking shows in the not-so-distant future!

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