Spanish 'electronic tongue' to lick established techniques
'ET' umami-bot is 'swift, portable, can be trained'
Catalan and German boffins have developed a highly sophisticated "electronic tongue" which is expected to greatly increase the satisfaction people achieve during oral recreation activities. But don't worry, this isn't some kind of touchfree onanism device for the terminally lazy or multi-tasking boudoir loner* - in this case, we're talking about drinking wine.
News of the electronic tongue - referred to by its lead maker, Cecilia Jiménez-Jorquera of the Barcelona microelectronics institute, as "ET" - comes to us courtesy of Analyst magazine, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The RSC says:
"This new tongue is not only swift, but also portable, cheap ... and can be trained..."
Jiménez-Jorquera expects ET to hand rival techniques of vino-measurement a splendid licking, as the mechanoid tippler is of unprecedented sensitivity. It can recognise and precisely measure "the five principal taste categories: sweet, salty, bitter, acid and umami".
Indeed, ET can reliably distinguish different grape varieties and even vintages. It could, apparently, easily rumble any jiggery-pokery by unscrupulous vintners.
"The device could be used to detect frauds committed regarding the vintage year of the wine, or the grape varieties used," according to Jiménez-Jorquera.
The full article, Electronic integrated multisensor tongue applied to grape juice and wine analysis, can be read for free courtesy of the RSC here. We note that the authors offer effusive thanks at the end to the Catalan Institute of Vineyard and Wine for their assistance during the project, including supplies of samples. ®
* We let our sister publication handle that beat. As it were.
I believe it's the taste of MSG. Japanese food scientists discovered that it was actually distinct to the other tastes.
Umami is a recently discovered fifth flavour receptor. At school, they taught me there were 4 - sour, sweet, salt and bitter - but the fifth "umami" is described as "rich" or "meaty" and is associated with high-protein foods.
re: Has interesting implications
Like the CIA putting it on the banned exports to Cuba list and possibly a few other places as well. Can't have those commies knowing they're being poisoned.