FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, October 15, 2004

Robotic "Tongue" May Increase Food Safety

The Discovery Channel reports that researchers in the University of Warwick in England have developed an electronic "tongue" that can verify the freshness of foods and detect contaminants.

The device is essentially a flat surface that uses sound waves to "rattle" a substance placed on it. The operating principle is that different substances will repond to the rattling in different ways. Although it has no taste buds, the device can determine the four primary tastes: sweet, sour, bitter and salty. By using physical rather than chemical or electrical criteria, the devices is more flexible than other electronic tasting devices.

Another advantage is that the device is very small, approximately the size of a fingernail. The hope is that the device could be marketed economically and incorporated in consumer products. Perhaps "smart spoons" and "smart cookware" are in our future, as well as better food safety and quality control for food processors and restaurants.

Bon appetit!