Going for a drink while you are on a diet could soon be less of a guilt trip. A device called the Vocktail is shaking up the traditional cocktail by mixing in a dash of electronics designed to fool your senses.
Made by Nimesha Ranasinghe and his team at the National University of Singapore, the Vocktail – short for virtual cocktail – is a glass that can be made to alter and augment flavours via a phone app. Once a liquid is poured into the glass, a drinker can change three aspects affecting its taste.
First, they can change their perception of the drink by altering its colour via an LED in the glass. Next, they can make the drink seem more sweet, salty or bitter using tongue-stimulating electrodes placed around the rim. In previous experiments, the team showed that different electrical patterns can give the impression of various tastes. Finally, a tube in the side of the glass releases gases with different smells, such as lime, that change the perceived flavour even more.
Ranasinghe previously created a digital lemonade using colours and electrodes to trick people’s taste buds. By adding smell to the mix, the Vocktail opens up many more flavour combinations. Virtual drinks can make you think you are drinking something sugary when you are in fact just swigging water, letting people satisfy their taste buds without any of the calories. The app also lets you share your favourite virtual cocktail recipes with others.
The Vocktail was presented at the Association for Computing Machinery Multimedia Conference in October.
Source: New Scientist