Saturday, February 16, 2013

Newsflash: It Is Delicious Data, You Must Taste It.

 Humans are visual creatures. Most of our media are devoted to the sense of sight: posters, video, T.V., and so on. Vision is by far humanity's strongest sense, and easily the one that causes the most impact. Just look at how well preying on vision alone worked for Avatar.

Enter a new device that lets you taste data. Well, not really - you won't be able to taste Domino's latest fat-laden pizza creation, for example. Rather, data is sent in the form of electric tongue tingles as opposed to anything audio or visual. Good chance that tasting data is not too far off if this takes flight, though.

Here's the scoop:

"Gershon Dublon of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology devised a small pad containing electrodes in a 5 × 5 grid. Users put the pad, which Gershon calls Tongueduino, on their tongue. When hooked up to an electronic sensor, the pad converts signals from the sensor into small pulses of electric current across the grid, which the tongue "reads" as a pattern of tingles.

Dublon says the brain quickly adapts to new stimuli on the tongue and integrates them into our senses. For example, if Tongueduino is attached to a sensor that detects Earth's magnetic field, users can learn to use their tongue as a compass. "You might not have to train much," he says. "You could just put this on and start to perceive."

Dublon has been testing Tongueduino on himself for the past year using a range of environmental sensors. He will now try the device out on 12 volunteers.

Blair MacIntyre at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta says a wireless version of Tongueduino could prove useful in augmented reality applications that deliver information to users inconspicuously, without interfering with their vision or hearing. "There's a need for forms of awareness that aren't socially intrusive," he says. Even Google's much-publicised Project Glass will involve wearing a headset, he points out."

Just gathering data by following the tongue tingles...

I dunno. I think sticking out one's tongue to taste random things is a bit socially-intrusive. On the plus side, it might be neat to taste things in video games. Floor ice cream restores health! 

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