By Camille Charluet
Are you ready for a new type of culinary experience where you don’t have to lift a finger? If so, this food delivery system is what you’ve been waiting for.
Initiated by researchers at the University of Sussex’s SCHI Lab, TastyFloats is a contactless food delivery system that levitates food morsels straight into your mouth. That’s right, you read that correctly. No cutlery needed for this culinary journey.
The system works by using two-phased arrays of ultrasonic transducers that are opposite each other. Between them is a wave of ultrasound that allows small amounts of liquids and solids to levitate in the nodes of the wave. As the phase changes, the nodes move, transporting the morsels with them between the arrays.
The purpose of the creation was to explore whether food tastes better when delivered to your mouth as an isolated morsel. SCHI Lab researchers conducted a study on users’ taste perception with different sized droplets of sweet, savory, and bitter taste stimuli. Once the droplets were deposited into participants mouths, they were asked to identify each and rate them in terms of satisfaction, intensity, and pleasantness.
Results found that users easily distinguished sweet and savory, but found bitter stimuli to be less detectable even though it’s usually associated with an unpleasant taste. This led researchers to conclude that TastyFloats might make more sense for dessert delivery, however, it could also make bitter or unpleasant foods more palatable.
“Our results are a first step towards the creation of new culinary experiences and innovative gustatory interfaces,” explained one of the creators, Chi Thanh Vi, under the TastyFloats YouTube video.
Researchers envision some fairly crazy uses for systems such as TastyFloats in the future. From Edible Cinema, in which morsels are deposited from the back of the chair in front of you, to desktop gaming environments, where different stimuli can be used as reward or punishment; the possibilities are nearly endless.
Imagine if these devices become portable – TastyFloats may lead to a new breed of couch potatoes.