An electrode strip isn’t the usual garnish you would expect to find on your cocktail, but that’s exactly what you get when you order a Vocktail (virtual reality cocktail).
But don’t hold that against it. After all, it could be the future of drinking.
The Vocktail is a cocktail glass that digitally simulates multisensory flavour experiences. It uses taste, smell and colour to create virtual flavours and enhance existing flavours in a drink. For example, it can “flavour” plain water.
According to its creator, Dr Nimesha Ranasinghe at the National University of Singapore, the Vocktail uses an app to stimulate your sight, taste and smell with lights, electrodes and micro air-pumps.
He starts off with a glass of plain water.
“Except,” he explains, “it doesn't taste like it.”
“On the app,” he continues, “I select the creatively named ‘peach drink’, and a huge yellow light emerges. ‘The light influences your perception, [David] Tolley, [the team's app development man] tells me.
“It smells beautiful, but still tastes of water. The trick, however, is to get your tongue to make contact with the electrode strips. As if by magic, the water suddenly tastes of peaches.”
Next, he trialed ‘alcoholic drinks’ - except they’re not - “as there’s no ingestion of alcohol involved.”
“The VR-tenders pour in some simple soda water, and I get several Vocktails out of it. The Senorita smells just like tequila - flavour-wise, it's almost there. The Gypsy - tequila and cinnamon - is nice. But the Poison Ivy, which mimics cognac and coriander leaf, is superb,” he writes.
The Vocktail is still in its early stages, but by simulating flavours without the addition of sugar, the potential benefits are plentiful.
“Does it beat a good old-fashioned drink?” Morrissy-Swan asks.
“Of course not,” he replies, “as getting a little tipsy is part of the fun, but, for its ability to change flavour so drastically and trick you into thinking you're drinking a cocktail, I'm more than impressed.”
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