Today, we interact with computers using only three of our five senses: Sight, sound, and touch…more or less. We use the latter, but not fully yet. We’re still working on reproducing textures digitally. Our more intimate senses, taste and smell, well, they’re just not something that we’ve been able to digitize.
Researchers at the National University of Singapore are trying to tackle one of those, taste, with something they’re calling the “digital lolly.” Now, that sounds like some gewgaw you’d get for playing a Facebook game, but it’s actually a technology for recreating, storing, and transmitting oral data.
According to an article in The New York Times:
While it might sound complicated, the technology is relatively simple. When the lollipop, which is made of a silver electrode, touches the tip of the tongue it reproduces four well-known tastes: salty, sweet, sour or bitter. Together these flavors can create different simulations close to the real thing.
Obviously, there’s a bit of biological disgust inherent in such a technology, but we’ve been able to get over greasy finger spots on our tablets, so we’ll probably find a way to get over this if it ever becomes practical.
If human history is anything, it’s an ongoing triumph of getting over just how disgusting we are.