No matter how they may make you feel, licking your gadgets and electronics is never recommended. Unless you’re a researcher from Meiji University in Japan who’s invented what’s being described as a taste display that can artificially recreate any flavor by triggering the five different tastes on a user’s tongue.
Years ago it was thought that the tongue had different regions for tasting sweet, sour, salty, and bitter flavors, where higher concentrations of taste buds tuned to specific flavors were found. We now know that the distribution is more evenly spread out across the tongue, and that a fifth flavor, umami, plays a big part in our enjoyment of food. Our better understanding of how the tongue works is crucial to a new prototype device that its creator, Homei Miyashita, calls the Norimaki Synthesizer.
It was inspired by how easily our eyes can be tricked into seeing something that technically doesn’t exist. The screen you’re looking at uses microscopic pixels made up of red, green, and blue elements that combine in varying intensities to create full-color images. Miyashita wondered if a similar approach could be used to trick the tongue, which is why their Norimaki Synthesizer is also referred to as a taste display.