Future Tech: Electric Chopsticks Stimulate Flavor By Shocking Your Tongue

Photo: PeopleImages [Getty]

There’s no denying that salt makes food taste better. There’s also no denying that salt wrecks havoc on the human body, so what’s a person to do when they want that salty flavor without the harmful side effects? Pick up a pair of electric chopsticks, of course.

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That’s the rather odd solution from Nimesha Ranasinghe, inventor of the electric chopsticks, who recently joined the University of Maine as an assistant professor and director of the Multisensory Interactive Media Lab.

Equipped with electrodes embedded into the tips, the eating utensils are able to produce simulated flavors with a gentle zap of the tongue, which Ranasinghe hopes will allow for far less sodium consumption.


It’s not just salt flavor that the professor was able to capture, as Ranasinghe was also able to recreate both sourness and bitterness tastes with the electric chopsticks, though fell short in his attempts to replicate sweetness.

“I experimented with the current’s amplitude and frequency, with different materials, and with the placement of electrodes on the tongue,” he says. “It’s like TV in the 1950s. Right now, the picture might be in grainy shades of gray, but one day, virtual flavors will burst onto the tongue in glorious technicolor.”

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Ranasinghe appeared to suggest electric chopsticks are just the beginning of his flavor-enhancing inventions with water bottles, spoons and straws (hopefully reusable) in the mix. He even has an Internet-connected “vocktail” glass, which allows people to send virtual cocktails.

Because if there’s one thing we need more of, it’s seeing things when we’re drinking.