Voktail – a virtual cocktail glass, developed by specialists of the National University of Singapore. Its main “chip” is the ability to mimic the tastes, smells and colors of various drinks using digital technology. With it, for example, it is easier to follow a diet.
The development of Voktail began in 2013. Then was created his predecessor – Digital Lollipop (Digital Candy), an electronic device that synthesizes virtual tastes. The engineers used this experience when developing Voktail. Its main elements are two silver electrodes on the rim of the glass, through which impulses are transmitted to the tip of the tongue, imitating various taste sensations – sweet, salty, acidic, bitter. The picture is complemented by the LED installed at the bottom of the glass, adding the color corresponding to it in the virtual cocktail.
But that’s not all. Special cartridges fill the glass with flavored molecules, creating the illusion of flavor at the time of the pharynx. The range of virtual cocktails is quite extensive. With the help of a special application, the user of Voktail can independently adjust the taste, color and smell that he needs.
Developers, first of all, hope to interest the novelty of those who decided to go on a diet and even diabetics. Just imagine, they can drink a simple “sweetened” computer water without the slightest threat to health. It remains to wait and see how long the body will tolerate this deception.
Voktail consists of a cocktail glass that is seamlessly fused into a 3D-printed base, which holds the electronic control module and three micro air-pumps connected to three scent cartridges. It is coupled with a mobile application that enables users to create customized virtual flavors by remotely configuring the taste, smell and color stimuli via Bluetooth.
The taste of the drink is altered by two electrodes on the edge of the glass, which could provide controlled electrical currents of different incoming magnitudes and frequencies to the tip of the tongue to simulate salty/sour sensations while drinking it. To alter smell, the air-pumps release vapor from the chosen scent cartridges onto the surface of the drink, which is close to the drinker’s nose when drinking. Cartridges can be added or changed depending on the favorite smell and are easy to change/fill, similar to replacing ink cartridges of an ink-jet printer.
Since visual stimuli form pre-taste perceptions, drinkers can select their preferred color with the mobile app which triggers different LED light onto the drink.
The seamless combination of these 3 main stimuli delivers a distinct virtual flavor, thus altering the perceived taste of the drink.
The advantages of Voktail are plentiful. “You could walk into a bar and order a mojito and use the mobile application, customize it to your preference with, say, a chocolate aroma and a hint of banana or mango. Or you could customize water to taste like your preferred flavored drink and save the money!” said Research Fellow Dr. Nimesha Ranasinghe, who led the team.
As the mobile application affords users full control, individual creations can be saved as pre-sets for precise replication or for sharing with friends via social networks.
Voktail could also benefit the old people who are on a restricted diet due to a health problem, such as DM, hypertension and etc.
“Using this technology, salt can be delivered in a virtual manner without the health drawbacks. Similarly, for diabetic patients, sugar consumption can be reduced dramatically without loss of sensory pleasure. It could also enhance the quality of life for chemotherapy patients who have a reduced sense of taste. There are many applications that can be explored,” said Dr. Ranasinghe.
The technology is presently developing on other aspects to create some fizziness and texture of the drink to create a more life experience and hopefully, can be commercialized in near future.