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Dieting might not be so hard if unhealthy foods and drinks did not taste so good. A new device from the National University of Singapore (NUS) could let you taste your cake and not eat it. The Vocktail (Virtual Cocktail) digitally changes the way a drink tastes, smells and looks, sprucing up plain old water or fine-tuning an existing drink.

It began with the Digital Lollipop in 2013, that helped the NUS team work out how to simulate basic flavour types like sweet, sour, salty and bitter by applying electrical and thermal signals to the tongue. Earlier this year, the researchers developed a high-tech tumbler that allowed people to "teleport" the sourness and colour of lemonade into a glass of water.

Two silver electrodes on the rim send carefully controlled electrical signals to the tip of the tongue to simulate salty, sour or bitter flavours, and an LED in the bottom lights up the liquid in a preset colour, which can influence the perception of taste.

Since smell is inextricably linked to taste, the Vocktail uses cartridges that puff scent molecules onto the surface of the drink as the user takes a sip. That system is powered by micro air pumps in the base of the glass, and the team says the three cartridges are as easily refillable as printer ink.

To be honest, it's not exactly pretty, and being plugged into... well, whatever it plugs into is going to be awfully inconvenient if, say, you want to move elsewhere. The idea is quite awesome though.

Have a look at the video below to see how to Vocktail works.


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