There is now a television that can imitate food flavours. In Tokyo, a Japanese professor unveiled a prototype of a TV screen that you can lick, and you will be able to taste the food shown on the screen. It is the beginning of a new era called a multi-sensory viewing experience.
The device is called “Taste the TV” or TTTV. What it has is a carousel of 10 flavour canisters. It has a machine that combines these canisters’ content via spray methodology. From here, the machine re-creates what it thinks is the flavour of the food on the screen.
Once the flavour is available, the TV would roll a hygienic film over the screen; then, the viewer can lick and try the flavour. The way the TV works is through the use of basic chemistry. What the machine does is combine different flavour profiles.
The Professor Homei Miyashita says that this technology is an excellent way for people to connect and interact. The goal is to make TV viewing as close to possible as eating in a restaurant. It makes global restaurants accessible even if the viewer is at home.
Miyashita does not work alone. His team has around 30 students from the University of Meiji. As of the time, they have produced several prototypes, which they call “flavour-related devices”. The Professor says that they have also made a fork that makes food taste better.
The Professor built the TTTV alone, and it took him a year to do that. The commercial version is expected to sell at a price of 100,000 yen, the equivalent of $875 of today’s money.
There are potential applications to the product on top of commercial use. People can use it for long-distance learning, especially for cooks. People can also use it for tasting games or quizzes, for education or fun.
The creator, Miyashita, is now in talks with companies about the new invention. Discussions are on the way about how the technology can be applied to other devices. One thing that popped out in these talks is how the technology can be used to apply pizza or chocolate flavours to toasted bread.
The creator is also hopeful that the technology becomes a platform where various flavours from around the world can be downloaded and enjoyed by the users or viewers. The goal is to make it comparable to music or online casino Japan platforms where people are free to download what they want to listen to or play.
A student in the university demonstrated the TTTV technology in front of reporters. She told the screen what she wanted to taste, which was sweet chocolate. After a few attempts, the AI’s voice repeated the order and the name of the flavour, after which the TV sprayed a sample onto a plastic sheet. The student said it tasted like chocolate milk.
The Professor said that the user could break down the flavour of food into several components like sweet, sour, salty, and others. Right now, they programmed it with recipes that allow it to replicate the taste of 20 different foods. This list will expand in the future.
Furthermore, we can watch a video where other people talk. We can hear them speak and watch what they do. Both of these connect through sensory perceptions—vision and hearing. However, there is nothing that can address our sense of taste.
It is a problem because we cannot taste the food in a restaurant that is far from us. During the pandemic, the restaurant may be nearby, but people cannot go because of the travel restrictions. It is this situation that made the Japanese professor want to turn this dream into a reality. He wants people to experience the taste even if they are at home. It was his main motivation for doing this. With this device, people can get a taste of the restaurant’s food offerings without leaving their houses.
The “tasty” TV device is not really a TV for now. It is not something that you hang on a wall. If anything, it looks like a miniature pinball table. The screen lies flat on its surface. Further above it is the machine that creates the flavours.
The TV is like a big tablet that has a touch-control panel. The machine is like a vending machine that has canisters. You must choose what flavour you want, and then the machine will spray the right amount of the flavours from the canisters to produce the one you want to taste.
The technology works similarly to how a normal vending machine works. For example, a coffee vending machine has three powders—coffee, creamer and sugar. A user presses an option, and the machine, which is calibrated, dispenses just the right amount of each powder to produce the taste.
The invention is going to be available to some specialized industries soon, but it will take some time before it reaches the public. Right now, there is no practical reason for people to buy it yet, not until many restaurants use the system.