Scientist invents a lickable TV to taste on-screen flavors and we're wondering why

Fake Tongue licks screen
(Image credit: Meiji University)

Forget smell-o-vision. Taste TV could be the next big thing if a Japanese University professor's invention, a television screen that lets you lick the display to experience on-screen flavors, ever emerges from the lab.

According to a report in Reuters and translated details from Meiji University, Prof. Yoshiaki Miyashita's TTTV is a Taste TV that combines video images with realistic tastes.

Person Licking Screen

(Image credit: Reuters)

The system starts with Miyashita's team capturing the flavors of real food. A spray mixing system featuring 10 canisters (including sweet, sour, spicy, and savory) above the portrait-mode display recreates the flavor, applies it to a lickable, transparent sheet that rolls out on top of the screen, putting the flavor in the approximate location of the in-video food.

Among the test demonstrations TTTV currently offers is a "menu you can taste," alcohol tasting, and sommelier training.

In videos provided to Reuters, subjects lick the screen to taste the flavors. In another video on Miyashita Lab's YouTube channel (see below), the research team uses a rubbery fake tongue to pick up flavors dropped on the display.

Professors Miyashita told Reuter's TV, "I'm thinking of making a platform where tastes from all over the world can be distributed as 'taste content'." He added that he envisions people downloading flavors from restaurants around the world to experience virtually and through taste.

Lickable TV

(Image credit: Meiji University)

Miyashita's invention started making news back in November when it won an Innovative Technologies Award at the Digital Content EXPO 2021 in Chiba, Japan.

There are obvious questions, like how varied are the flavors TTTV can recreate and, how does it ensure that the clickable film is clean between...uh...licks. Also, there is the larger question: do any of us really need to lick a screen to conjure a flavor, or are our imaginations good enough?

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Lance Ulanoff
Editor At Large

A 38-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.