Finally, here's vindication for anyone who was ever chastised for licking batteries: Researchers at the National University of Singapore have invented a taste synthesizer out of electrodes and heat conductors. All you have to do is clamp this electrical thing right onto the tip of your tongue.
width="560" height="420" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/38u3e_WT4H4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="None">
The device is still in beta mode, but basically, researchers figured out how to manipulate subtle changes in alternating current and temperature to convincingly fool the tongue's taste receptors into thinking they're getting sour, sweet, salty, or bitter. (Umami, that holy grail of flavors, is next.)
Next up are plans for an all-digital lollipop, which would of course be a crowning achievement in the age of electronic things hanging out of mouths and a boon for gamers, but researchers are thinking big: The AI tastemaker could help those feeling the effects of chemotherapy regain their appetites, not to mention give diabetics the chance to feel the effects of sugar without ingestion any real-life glucose. Sweet.
Electrode recreates all four tastes on your tongue [New Scientist]