There has been a lot of effort put into dragging touch, smell and taste into the nightmare for the ears and eyes that is most parts of the Internet. In fact, Internet stench technology has been in the works for years. But now the University of Singapore wants you to stick the Internet in your mouth.
How? Through a silver electrode that’s admittedly pretty amazing; it’s designed to help you taste, say, the food products for sale on Amazon, or the secret tears that most subreddits are drowning in, through heat and electrical stimulation:
Signals that reproduce the four well-known major taste components – salt, sweet, sour, bitter – are transmitted through a silver electrode touching the tip of the tongue. The taste receptors are fooled by a varying alternating current and slight changes in temperature controlled by semiconductor elements that heat and cool very rapidly.
There is, of course, some genuine utility here; this is primarily designed to help, say, cancer patients better taste the food they’re eating and to help stimulate appetite in people suffering from various medical problems. It can also be used for teaching purposes.
But let’s face it, if this ever becomes a commercial product, for about six months nobody’s going to put it in their mouths because there will be somebody lurking, waiting to make you taste the textural pleasures of earwax. And even when that stops, we really don’t want to imagine what the marketing departments of the world might do with this; imagine pop-up ads you can taste. Is it too late to stop the future?