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Virtual ingredients for food and beverages to create immersive taste experiences

The sensation of taste as an electronic media


This paper presents a new technology that overlays virtual taste sensations on food and beverages while eating and drinking. This additional layer of taste sensation enables modifying the existing taste sensations (flavors) of food and beverages virtually. To achieve this technology, we primarily use weak and controlled electrical pulses on the tip of the tongue (while eating and drinking). The ability of this technology to simulate primary taste sensations such as salty, sour, and bitter has made us able to merge it into everyday eating and drinking utensils such as the spoon and beverage bottle, thus to augment the taste sensations of food and beverages. In addition to electrical pulses, we change the color of the beverage using an RGB Light Emitting Diode (LED). Two prototype systems produced with this technology, Spoon+ and Bottle+ are explained in this paper. First, we present a comprehensive technical description of these utensils. Then, we detailed a user experiment conducted to study the effectiveness of our approach. Through these two prototype systems, we discuss the impact of this technology to create immersive taste experiences when consuming food and beverages. With focus on new features and improvements of several limitations of the existing systems, we present our future vision that enables merging of this technology into more appliances thus making a platform for creating virtual food and beverage ingredients.

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This research is supported by the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore under its International Research Centre @ Singapore Funding Initiative and administered by the Interactive and Digital Media Programme Office.

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Correspondence to Nimesha Ranasinghe.

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Ranasinghe, N., Lee, KY., Suthokumar, G. et al. Virtual ingredients for food and beverages to create immersive taste experiences. Multimed Tools Appl 75, 12291–12309 (2016).

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  • Taste
  • Gustation
  • Taste media
  • Multimodal interaction
  • Perceptual immersion
  • Taste interfaces