TOKYO (Web Desk) – Researchers in Japan have designed an electric fork that can make any dish taste salty, so you no longer have to pour a lot of salt on your food.
Basically, electricity stimulates our taste buds, not the food itself. And in this case, the fork’s two sides, the front end and the handle, are used as electrodes.
When you take a piece of food with the fork and put it in your mouth, you close the circuit. When you remove the fork from your mouth, you disconnect the circuit. So it actually works as a switch.
According to Hiromi Nakamura, a Post Doc Research Fellow at Tokyo’s Meiji University, the technology can be very useful for people on special diets.
Patients with low blood pressure, for instance, can easily go on a low-salt diet and still enjoy delicious food. And with the fork, there’s absolutely no risk of over-salting your food.
Luckily, the voltage is so small that there is no risk of electrocution either, the Oddity Central reported.
The idea of adding electricity to food was first revealed as an experiment at the Computer Human Interaction Conference in Austin, Texas, in 2012.
Nakamura and her team connected a wire to a 9-volt battery and threaded it through a straw placed in a cup of sweet lemonade. Volunteers (who were asked to sign a waiver) reported that the charged lemonade tasted ‘blander’, because the electricity simulated the taste of salt.
Nakamura, along with Prof Homei Miyashita, now call the idea ‘Augmented Gustation’ and have refined the technology to be able to transfer an electric charge to food through forks and chopsticks.
Nakamura explained that electric taste has actually been around for over 250 years – it was discovered by a man named Sulzer. “The starting point for Alessandro Volta to invent the battery was actually when Sulzer took two different metallic plates and put them on his tongue. He felt some kind of electric taste. And that’s how the battery was born.”
Nakamura has been eating ‘electric’ food for the past three to four years, in an attempt to understand it better. “For me, food hacking is about augmenting or diminishing real food,” she said.
For now, Nakamura is excited about the various possibilities of electric food, but she hasn’t thought about mass producing the fork for consumers yet. She’s currently toying with the idea of creating or designing electric flavours, just like you make music.