At a time when we are told to wear a mask, wash our hands carefully the idea of licking a screen at a restaurant doesn’t seem to be in synch with the time.
Yet, this is the idea, actually more than an idea, coming out of Tokyo Meiji University: want to feel the taste of a dish offered by a restaurant? Just lick the screen showing its photo!
If you have been to Japan you surely remember the restaurants’ windows showcasing the various menu items directly on dishes – shokuhin sampuru- (I have always wondered how they do that… in the beginning I thought they were real food covered with some sort of plastic, then I discovered they are sculptures tailor made for each restaurant by artists using polyvinyl chloride). Japan is world famous for the artistic way they have in displaying anything, starting for food on the plate (there is even the word for it: “plating“). Hence, it is not really surprising the search for further improving the shokuhin sampuru and what could be better than making you feel the taste of the food on the plate?
That is, I guess, what motivated researchers at the Meiji University in Tokyo to invent a film (thin layer of plastic containing micro dispensers filled with 10 different flavours that are released when you lick the screen over a specific image of food. The mixture of the flavours released is controlled by a computer that “knows” where you are licking are reacts accordingly. They have called the device “Taste the TV” and, really, the name says it all!
According to Homei Miyashita, the professor at Meiji University in Tokyo where the device was invented, at this time of COvid-19 when people may refrain from going to a restaurant, the possibility of liking their television screen (you overlay the film-device and connect it to your smartphone) would provide a sort fo fulfilment: Besides,, he is ready to point out, this would also let you taste food from Africa and anywhere else. Actually there is much more involved in taste, the texture, the warmness, … that make me doubtful of the reality of the feeling. For sure it is a further step in the metaverse!
It feels both amazing and crazy to me! I cannot imagine myself liking a screen (or a restaurant window…) but I have to acknowledge the ingenuity of the researchers.