Dousing every meal in salt might make food tastier, but all that extra sodium is eventually going to raise your blood pressure—giving you bigger problems than bland food. So researchers in Japan have built a prototype electric fork that uses electrical stimulation to simulate the taste of salt.
Designed and engineered using the research on electric flavoring at the University of Tokyo’s Rekimoto Lab, the battery-powered fork features a conductive handle that completes a circuit when the tines make contact with a diner’s tongue, electrically stimulating their taste buds.
The prototype fork, which was built from just $18 worth of electronics, creates the sensation of both salty and sour, and has adjustable levels of stimulation, given that everyone has unique taste buds. When pushed too far, though, the fork can produce an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth. So if it’s ever commercialized, there will need to be an initial calibration procedure to ensure a pleasant and tasty dining experience, without going so far as to cause physical discomfort.