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Face Electrodes Let You Taste and Chew In Virtual Reality (newscientist.com) 41

walterbyrd quotes a report from New Scientist: Experiments with "virtual food" use electronics to emulate the taste and feel of the real thing, even when there's nothing in your mouth. This tech could add new sensory inputs to virtual reality or augment real-world dining experiences, especially for people with restricted diets or health issues that affect their ability to eat. Several projects have succeeded in tricking us into tasting things that aren't there. Nimesha Ranasinghe at the National University of Singapore has already experimented with a "digital lollipop" to emulate different tastes, and a spoon embedded with electrodes that amplify the salty, sour, or bitter flavor of the real food eaten off it. However, his experiments with electrical stimulation had less success simulating sweetness compared to the other tastes. But digitizing this taste could be particularly useful in, for example, helping people cut back on sugary food or drinks. So Ranasinghe and his colleague Ellen Yi-Luen Do started experimenting with thermal stimulation instead. Their new project, presented at the 2016 ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium (UIST) in Tokyo, uses changes in temperature to mimic the sensation of sweetness on the tongue. The user places the tip of their tongue on a square of thermoelectric elements that are rapidly heated or cooled, hijacking thermally sensitive neurons that normally contribute to the sensory code for taste. In an initial trial, it worked for about half of participants. Some also reported a sensation of spiciness when the device was warmer (around 35 degrees Celsius) and a minty taste when it was cooler (18 degrees Celsius). Ranasinghe and Do envisage such a system embedded in a glass or mug to make low-sugar drinks taste sweeter.
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Face Electrodes Let You Taste and Chew In Virtual Reality

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  • by EmeraldBot ( 3513925 ) on Saturday November 05, 2016 @08:43AM (#53218367)
    Diabetes can be caused by consuming too much sugar, but if you cut back on the amount but still preserve the same taste, you start treading down the very dangerous path of insulin resistance as well. Your body will stop making the proper amount of insulin for what it detects in taste because it's used to lack of sugar, and you'll wind up with diabetes all the same - it's only an effective way to allow somebody whose body already doesn't produce or absorb the proper amount of insulin to satisfy a sugar craving. However, this does have some great potential for MMO games and cooking websites and the like - while taste is arguably our least useful sense in such an environment, such a sensor might find a place for allowing people to preview recipes before they cook them or such.
    • This only affects taste though, not sugar cravings or your metabolism. Is insuling production affected only by actual sugar ingestion, or by the taste of sweetness?
      • This only affects taste though, not sugar cravings or your metabolism. Is insuling production affected only by actual sugar ingestion, or by the taste of sweetness?

        Well, from what I can find and what I know, yes. [nih.gov] Tasting sweetness alone triggers insulin, at least according to this research report, and a forum for diabetics agrees with this also. So, while artificial sweetener probably has less impact than consuming the real deal, it's obviously not a way to enjoy ridiculously sweet foods without any repercussions since you'll still have a blood sugar level crash afterwards, and this taste machine wouldn't provide much over artificial sweetener in terms of diabetes pre

  • by ruir ( 2709173 )
    If I only had this to hack as a teenager to make my friends taste shit....
  • Let's use it to stimulate more dopamine production, and put an end to the drug market.

  • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Saturday November 05, 2016 @09:00AM (#53218413)
    The first thing I thought of was simulating the various tastes the pr0n VR market might use.
    • I was thinking the same thing. And how does it actually work without some system adding a smell? Smell is a BIG part of tasting (and sex).

      Try eating something like an apple while holding your nose closed. It doesn't "taste" the same. The texture may be there, but the great apple flavor is somewhat off.
      • I was thinking the same thing. And how does it actually work without some system adding a smell? Smell is a BIG part of tasting (and sex). Try eating something like an apple while holding your nose closed. It doesn't "taste" the same. The texture may be there, but the great apple flavor is somewhat off.

        Glad I wasn't the only one. But yes, smell is very much intertwined with east. I have two friends with Chron's, and the medicines for each knocked out their sense of smell and taste. The one guy decided that eating was boring and lost a lot of weight - no problem because he needed to. The other guy needed to have his wife as part of the healing process - doctors told her she had to nag him to eat even if he didn't want to.

        That guy eventually got to go off his meds - I think it was remicaid (sp?) or somth

        • My sense of smell is probably just shy of a bloodhound's, so food flavors are more varied for me than most I guess. For me smells have color and texture, too. People just don't understand when I say something smells brown and dusty.

          People taste things differently, too. I hate cilantro, but others seem to like it. It tastes like copper or soap to me. I wonder how this new VR eating will cover variances like that.
          • My sense of smell is probably just shy of a bloodhound's, so food flavors are more varied for me than most I guess. For me smells have color and texture, too. People just don't understand when I say something smells brown and dusty.

            Synesthesia - awesome! I also have an enhanced sense of smell, which brings up a pet theory of mine. I find that women smell really good, and men do not - to me. I'm not talking about perfume or unclean body odor, but an inherent smell to each sex. Women just smell good. And I find a relationship between the smell and who I find attractive. I have always suspected that people might be noticing a smell that doesn't quite reach their threshold of sensation, but react to it anyhow.

            Which has always made me

            • Lucky me I'm only hyper sensitive to the smell of any rotting food, and am most sensitive specifically to meats. I can tell if it's fresh, good, starting to go bad, will turn bad in a day, to the next level which is where most people start to smell something is off. I'm not so sure I can smell anything else that much better than others but I guess it's a useful thing to have though I can't smell salmonella or other food borne illnesses that I'm aware of just your average decomposition.
              • Lucky me I'm only hyper sensitive to the smell of any rotting food, and am most sensitive specifically to meats. I can tell if it's fresh, good, starting to go bad, will turn bad in a day, to the next level which is where most people start to smell something is off. I'm not so sure I can smell anything else that much better than others but I guess it's a useful thing to have though I can't smell salmonella or other food borne illnesses that I'm aware of just your average decomposition.

                With me, its rotting potatoes, or leftover salad going rancid in a trashcan. Just the thought of it is making my stomach a little queasy.

                My favorite smell? Crayons!

            • ...assuming u r a guy;-) what u r talking about is pheromones, long debated about...what i find interesting r the experiments that show women r attracted to men who smell _UN_like their fathers, thought to promote genetic diversity, particularly in the immune system http://abcnews.go.com/Health/s... [go.com] ...unfortunately, women on birthcontrol _don't_display this preference, which may explain the increase in allergies...score 1 4 the pope;-}

              • ...assuming u r a guy;-)

                Yup.

                what u r talking about is pheromones, long debated about...what i find interesting r the experiments that show women r attracted to men who smell _UN_like their fathers, thought to promote genetic diversity, particularly in the immune system

                Plausible. I do know that I have met some very physically attractive women who I never had an erotic thought about. Others? Yeah, much so.

                I've hear women talking about "Ugly Hunks" as well, so I could very much thing something is going on with pheromones/smell.

          • Hating cilantro is genetic.

            Both soap and cilantro contain aldehydes, but only about 10% of humans have the receptor gene to detect them. For those people, cilantro tastes like soap. (I'm in that same group, cilantro tastes like soap to me, and I hate it when Mexican restaurants don't offer a non-cilantro salsa)

  • Most wines have a recommended serving temperature and some have to be served in chilled glasses. Its known that the temperature of the liquid will change the taste. Why else is Soda served chilled if not to make it sweeter.

    As a diabetic I would love to be able to drink sweet stuff without worrying about sugar so I am looking forward to this mug hitting the market. In the meantime I will add ice.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday November 05, 2016 @09:07AM (#53218441)

    Everything tastes like chicken.

    Because there's a glitch in the matrix.

  • Yelp reviewers would then have to opine on how closely the real experience matched the virtual try-me's on the establishment's website.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser

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