This electronic pacifier allows you to create any taste

A Japanese researcher has invented an “electronic taste synthesizer”, allowing you to recreate any flavor by licking a tube filled with colored gels. Virtually enjoy a square of chocolate or a good grilled steak without any calories, a dream for those who are trying to lose weight. Here’s how this new gadget works.

Are you in the mood for a square of chocolate or a slice of sausage? No need to feel guilty by throwing yourself on food: here is the taste synthesizer. Japanese researcher Homei Miyashita, from Meiji University in Tokyo , invented an electronic gadget to artificially recreate any flavor with zero calories . You just have to lick the device languidly to have the sensation of grilled steak or strawberry ice cream in your mouth.

Gel tubes like in a four-color pen

For its electronic pacifier, called the Norimaki synthesizer  , Homei Miyashita was inspired by digital screens , where RGB pixels (red, green, blue) are juxtaposed to give an overall image of a certain color . The Norimaki synthesizer  combines the five different tastes ( acid , salty, bitter, sweet and umami ) in more or less quantity to create a unique flavor. The lollipop is filled with tubes of gel colored in agar-agar (a viscous gel from an alga ), as in a four-color pen. Each tube of gel is added with a substance to give one of five tastes:

  • glycine for sweet taste;
  • magnesium chloride for bitter taste;
  • citric acid for acid taste;
  • sodium chloride for salty taste;
  • sodium glutamate for umami taste.

The device is wrapped in a sheet of copper , so that when it is held in the hand and pressed on the tongue , an electric current is formed passing through the body (rest assured, it is very low voltage). The latter produces electrophoresis, a process which makes it possible to “sort” the molecules of a gel according to their size. Depending on the setting of the device, the electric current prevents certain flavors from going up in the gel tube, which reduces the associated taste.

The artificial taste for eating without calories

According to Miyashita, the synthesizer allowed users to experience a wide range of flavors, ”  ranging from jelly candies to sushi, without having to put a single food in their mouth “. In addition to its recreational function, the Norimaki synthesizer could be a weight management tool, hopes Homei Miyashita. People with hypertension could also use it to reproduce the salty taste without adding salt in the diet. The researcher was also directly inspired by previous work by Hiromi Nakamura, another researcher who had developed in 2018 an electronic fork mimicking salty taste .