A new device will come to market in the near future. Its function is to make you feel certain tastes instead of others, like fell chocolate while eating broccoli, for example.‘Taste Buddy‘ seems perfect, but it’s not. I will tell you here why.
I love news and don’t want to be a killjoy, but let’s do it. The device goes by the name ‘Taste Buddy’. Adrian Cheok, professor of pervasive computing of the City University of London and Director of the Imagineering Institute, from the same university, is the leader of a group of scientists and engineers who worked on its creation. Just to clarify, pervasive computing aims to integrate information technology with the natural behaviors and actions of human.
What is ‘Taste Buddy’? It is a 2 cm device that must be placed in the mouth. It emits an electrical current sufficient to stimulate the taste buds of the tongue and make you feel certain flavors. For example eating a tofu steak and feel like a legitimate beef steak or even eat broccoli and feel like chocolate.
The intention is good, according to the professor, the device will allow people to lead healthier lifestyles and follow diets. It would also be indicated to children to eat vegetables. But, what would be a healthy lifestyle? Eating is much more than the mere consumption of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids, it is a social and cultural act. Deprive themselves of a piece of cake in a birthday is not healthy so is eating tons of candies every day. There’s occasion to eat broccoli and tofu and another to eat a good steak and a chocolate enjoying the food and without need to “trick” our palate.
I must stress that the device can be useful, however I see more potential for this in a hospital, bringing more quality of life to a patient, improving his tastebuds, than for a child who does not want to eat vegetables. And even more, I predict that the biggest sale of such device will be for women who will be able to keep restrictive diets for long, stuffing themselves with brocolli while they dream about chocolate.
I don’t believe we can fool the body for a long time, he’s smarter than we think. Some questions remain: how long does it take to our tongue to be used to the ‘Taste Buddy’? Will we need stronger electrical discharges to have the same effect? We will create a dependency on that we need shocks before every meal?
For now ‘ Taste Buddy ‘ is just a prototype. The team estimates that it will take about 20 years for a commercial version is launched on the market. The current version only allows enhance savory and sweet flavors, but it is expected that the range of stimuli increase and that the device can be connected to utensils like forks or glasses or even implanted in the mouth (remember the definition of pervasive computing at the beginning of this post? So this is where it applies).
Instead of demonizing foods and deceive our bodies, how about we seek the balances and eat a bit of everything? All this conversation made me wish having a pizza…full of broccoli!
Original press release: City University of London