Of Smart Spoons, Taste and the Metaverse

Published: June 30, 2023

min read

Scientists in Meiji University in Tokyo have invented a smart spoon that when powered on, can send a weak electric current via electrodes embedded in the tip of the spoon to simulate a person’s taste receptors present on his tongue. Through this, it is possible to generate ‘virtual’ flavors – minty, salty, sweet, sour and bitter. The smart spoon will be released in Japan commercially by the end of the year by Kirin Holdings, an international beverage and pharma company, and Japan’s second-largest brewery.

Apart from flavors, the electrode-embedded gadgets and muscle-stimulation jaw patches can artificially create chewy and textures as well.

It is not easy to replicate taste. When food is put in the mouth, it sets off a chemical reaction which signals the brain on how that should be interpreted. And everyone knows that flavor involves a combination of smell, taste and sensations sent to the brain through nerves.

Homei Miyashita, the developer of the electric salt spoon and a professor of advanced mathematical sciences at Meiji University, has been working on virtual taste stimulators for years! He has invented the Norimaki Synthesizer, a popsicle-sized device which can combine electrolyte gel nodules and an electric current to simulate the five tastes. He has even invented a ‘lickable’ television screen, where a thin film is coated by flavor canisters to add lickable elements to images.

He is not the only one working on this technology. There are others across the world.

And potential applications for this tech include the metaverse - which means, virtual tastings will be possible, making Gordon Ramsay’s metaverse restaurant, Wendy’s Wendyverse, or the Miller Lite Meta Lite bar a lot more interesting.

What this can do for brands

Web3 and the metaverse are all about offering immersive and engaging experiences to customers. That is where the magic lies. Up until now, audiences have been treated to virtual worlds where they see amazing and magical visuals and hear wonderful sounds.

It has always been these stimuli, which in turn makes the customers or audiences feel great. Now here is something that can augment these sensations to a very great extent.

It will be a while before these Smart spoons hit the market – but it can have a great impact on virtual restaurants for sure. All food and beverage brands also stand to gain should they choose to dabble in Web3. Adding one more dimension to the mix can only heighten the impact that the highly immersive experiences on Web3 can have!

Perfume brands can dabble with olfactory stimuli! Imagine entering a world where the whole place smelt like Chanel no 5 or Joy! The possibilities are truly remarkable and fascinating! Everything is curtailed only by the power of creative thinking that each brand brings to the table.

Apart from all of this it could do wonders for those who have lost their sense of taste and smell permanently to Covid. This can bring back a whole lot of color to their very ‘tasteless’ existence now. It can be absolutely life-changing!

But there are miles to go – will there be any negative medical implications of activating taste stimulators in the body? And if, for examples fools the body into thinking that it was eating something really sweet, would it impact the amound of insulin that the said body would produce to counter that? That and many other aspect are things that need to be factored in and considered.

And it is not easy to create complex tastes – maybe the scientists are close to figuring out how to replicate sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness and spice in a virtual space, but to blend them all in various degrees to produce the distinct flavors that various dishes produce can be tricky.

But when that happens - one can only hope and wait for it - it could be a weight-watcher’s dream! Imagine being able to binge on all those decadent calorie-loaded desserts and not gain an ounce of weight!


Bill Walker

Bill is a marketing strategist who believes in the power of storytelling. He's known for his creativity, wit, and ability to connect with audiences across all channels. When he's not crafting marketing campaigns, you can find him hiking in the mountains or reading a good book.


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