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New Thermal Taste Actuation Technology for Future Multisensory Virtual Reality and Internet

Karunanayaka, K., Johari, N., Hariri, S. , Camelia, H., Bielawski, K. S. & Cheok, A. D. ORCID: 0000-0001-6316-2339 (2018). New Thermal Taste Actuation Technology for Future Multisensory Virtual Reality and Internet. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 24(4), pp. 1496-1505. doi: 10.1109/tvcg.2018.2794073


Today’s virtual reality (VR) applications are mainly based on audio, visual, and haptic interactions between human and virtual world. Integrating the sense of taste into VR is difficult since we are dependent on chemical-based taste delivery systems. Therefore, developing a proper non-chemical digital taste actuation technology can unlock taste experiences in VR applications such as gaming, multisensory entertainment, remote dining, and online shopping. This paper presents the ‘Thermal Taste Machine’, a new digital taste actuation technology that can effectively produce and modify thermal taste sensations on the tongue. This device changes the temperature of the surface of the tongue within a short period of time (from 25 ◦ C to 40 ◦ C while heating and from 25 ◦ C to 10 ◦ C while cooling). We tested this device on human subjects and described the experience of thermal taste using 20 known (taste and non-taste) sensations. Our results suggested that rapidly heating the tongue produce sweetness, fatty/oiliness, electric taste, warmness, and reduced the sensibility for metallic taste. Similarly, participants reported that the cooling the tongue produced mint taste, pleasantness, and coldness. By conducting an another user study on the perceived sweetness of sucrose solutions after the thermal stimulation, we found that heating the tongue significantly enhanced the intensity of sweetness for both thermal tasters and non-thermal tasters. Also, we found that faster temperature rise on the tongue produce more intense sweet sensations for thermal tasters. We believe that this technology will be useful in two ways: First, it can produce taste sensations without using chemicals for the individuals who are sensitive to thermal taste. Second, the temperature rise of the device can be used as a way to enhance the intensity of sweetness. We believe that this technology can be used to digitally produce and enhance taste sensations in future virtual reality applications. The key novelties of this paper are as follows: 1. Development of a thermal taste actuation technology for stimulating the human taste receptors, 2. Characterization of the thermal taste produced by the device based on a set of taste related sensations and non-taste related sensations, 3. Research on enhancing the intensity for sucrose using thermal stimulation, 4. Research on how different speeds of heating affect the intensity of sweetness produced by thermal stimulation.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other uses, in any current or future media, including reprinting/republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works, for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted component of this work in other works.
Publisher Keywords: Thermal Taste, Multisensory VR, Digitizing Taste, Characterization of Thermal Taste, TRPM5
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
SWORD Depositor:
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