According to the headlines, thanks to a clever mix of electronics, cocktail glasses of the future will change water into wine and trick our senses into thinking we are drinking anything and everything.1
Nimesha Ranasinghe2, a former researcher at the National University of Singapore has come up with a decidedly imaginative invention that is attracting widespread coverage in online press, in blogs and on social networks: the Vocktail. This glass is capable of transforming plain water into a clever mix of sensations reminiscent of those aroused by a glass of wine or orange juice, or even a mojito.
This may sound like a trick worthy of the greatest visionaries, but this virtual cocktail glass actually stimulates three of our senses. A light-emitting diode changes the colour of the liquid; electrodes on the rim of the glass directly stimulate our taste buds to make us perceive tastes, while a tube releases odour compounds evoking the aroma of the desired drink.3 The idea is to give us the impression that we are sipping on something other than water. Sounds incredible, doesn’t it?
Yet there’s nothing very virtual about it, as the colour sensation is procured by a change of... colour, and the aromatic sensation by the use of... food aromas. The taste sensations are actually the only thing that is virtual, as our taste buds are electrically stimulated without the use of any tasty chemicals. However, while this device may not be all that virtual, its magic lies in the fact that it makes it possible to instantly change the characteristics of the same drink and go, for example, from a mouthful of red wine to a mouthful of mojito. Sounds like fun! Fun, maybe, but limited nonetheless.