A group of researchers investigating the difficult -- but not exactly high priority for the survival of humankind -- issue of making people taste things over the internet claims to have made a breakthrough, with a system that uses heat variations to trick the taste buds into tasting things while licking a lump of technology that could, one day, take on the form of a porn star's genitals.
The problem is it currently involves the remote tasting participant to stick their tongue out and lick a gadget -- and the inventors say their system only worked on about half the people that tried it. It works, on half the people, by using changes in temperature to somehow body-hack the taste buds into thinking they are experiencing sweetness. The thermoelectric elements vary rapidly between hot and cold states, which, oddly enough, fools our tongue sensors into going off and registering that something's happening there.
The temperature changes also made some of the subjects experience spiciness and the flavour of mint, while the New Scientist also reports that other teams showing off their goods at the User Interface Software and Technology Symposium are working on the trickier problem of adding a physical texture to go along with the taste, so you can also eat all the pretend food while in VR land. [New Scientist via Techradar]