Nov 23, 2017 | By Julia

As the holidays roll around, free flowing food and drink are the highlight for many looking to celebrate. But for those of us wanting to shave off a few pounds or go easy on the wallet, the season to be merry can present a problem: how to get into the holiday spirit, without breaking the bank or the belt?

A group of Singapore-based researchers may have just the solution you’re looking for. Developed out of the National University of Singapore’s Connective Ubiquitous Technology for Embodiment Centre, the “Vocktail” is a virtual cocktail glass that can turn water into wine — at least, as far as your senses are concerned.

The mock martini glass rests in a 3D printed structure holding three scent cartridges and three miniature air-pumps which, when activated, release specialized “smell molecules” that effectively alter the drinker’s perception of the flavour. If the drinker desires wine, the device can release a fruity scent; if lemonade is preferred, a lemon scent is emitted, and so on. Embedded LEDS can also flash colours of the drinker’s choosing, either to help simulate a specific beverage, or simply to enhance the flavour perception. Research suggests that red can be associated with bitterness, green with saltiness, and blue with sourness. The possibilities are virtually endless, with an emphasis on the virtual.

"We are interested in virtual reality in general - how can we introduce virtual beverage, and how to augment the existing flavours of beverages," lead researcher Nimesha Ranasinghe told Straitstimes.

That means thinking beyond fragrances and colours, and actually influencing the chemistry of flavour. The Vocktail features two electrode strips along its rim, designed to send electric pulses when in contact with the drinker’s tongue to mimic different taste reactions. 180 microamps can achieve a sour taste, for instance, while 80 microamps will activate a bitter taste sensation.

Best of all, the entire rig can be controlled by a Bluetooth-configured mobile app, so no need for sticky fingers.

Next up, Ranasinghe and his team plan to simulate the sensation of fizzy or carbonated drinks, as well as their perceived texture. “We want to create a more realistic experience for users,” he said. Moving forward, the Singapore team is also interested in working with the geriatric population and those with dietary restrictions.

For now, Ranasinghe is in talks with firms interested in mass producing the Vocktail. That means that by as soon as next Christmas, you could be drinking fizzy blue martinis to your heart’s content, all without dropping a dime at the bar.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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