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By Rikako Murayama and Rocky Swift
TOKYO, Dec 23 (Reuters) - A Japanese professor has developed a prototype lickable TV screen that can imitate food flavours, another step towards creating a multi-sensory viewing experience.
The device, called Taste the TV (TTTV), uses a carousel of 10 flavour canisters that spray in combination to create the taste of a particular food. The flavour sample then rolls on hygienic film over a flat TV screen for the viewer to try.
In the COVID-19 era, this kind of technology can enhance the way people connect and interact with the outside world, said Meiji University professor Homei Miyashita.
"The goal is to make it possible for people to have the experience of something like eating at a restaurant on the other side of the world, even while staying at home," he said.
Miyashita works with a team of about 30 students that has produced a variety of flavour-related devices, including a fork that makes food taste richer. He said he built the TTTV prototype himself over the past year and that a commercial version would cost about 100,000 yen ($875) to make.
Potential applications include distance learning for sommeliers and cooks, and tasting games and quizzes, he said.
Miyashita has also been in talks with companies about using his spray technology for applications like a device that can apply a pizza or chocolate taste to a slice of toasted bread.
He also hopes to make a platform where tastes from around the world can be downloaded and enjoyed by users, much like music is now.
One Meiji student demonstrated TTTV for reporters, telling the screen she wanted to taste sweet chocolate. After a few tries, an automated voice repeated the order and flavour jets spritzed a sample onto a plastic sheet.
"It's kind of like milk chocolate," she said. "It's sweet like a chocolate sauce."
($1 = 114.1900 yen) (Reporting by Rikako Murayama and Rocky Swift; Editing by Tom Hogue, David Dolan and Giles Elgood)
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