Electric Fork Simulates Salt By Stimulating Your Tongue

The so-called “electric flavoring fork” was developed by Hiromi Nakamura at the Rekimoto Lab, part of the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies at the University of Tokyo. Maybe they should rename it “Fork U”... well, maybe not.



Forked Tongues: Not Just For Reptiles Anymore


The prototype fork was inspired by earlier research into an "electric test for taste" – it seems that salty or sour tastes are experienced when electricity is applied to the human tongue. Yeesh, can you imagine being one of the test subjects?

Nakamura and his research team realized that people restricted to low-salt or salt-free diets likely miss salty flavorings and would appreciate a way to enjoy them without the ill-effects.  To test the fork in real-world situations, the researchers set up a "No Salt Restaurant" as a testbed.




A Salt & Battery


Volunteers were offered a salt-free, full-course meal provided with the prototype electric fork along with instructions on how to operate the device. You may have noticed the fork has a rather thick handle, which incorporates a rechargeable battery and the required electric circuitry.

The user presses a button on the fork's handle while inserting the head of the loaded fork into their mouth. Doing so allows a mild electric current to stimulate taste receptors on the eater's tongue.




A Fork For All Seasonings?


Different levels of saltiness may be experienced depending on the age and/or dietary preferences of the user. Even so, users can adjust the level of the electric current (and thus, the perceived saltiness of the food) by turning a rotary switch built into the base of the fork.

Next on Nakamura & company's to-do list: an electric spoon that simulates sweetness - we only wish. The world's obese are waiting with stomachs grumbling... get to it guys! (via Nikkei Technology)