TikTok is fascinated by this television that you can taste

Just when we thought we've already seen it all, a Japanese professor has invented a TV screen that you can taste—and TikTok is fascinated. As reported by Reuters, the new Taste the TV (TTTV) comes with 10 flavor canisters that can mimic the taste of countless foods. While the novelty television has a lot of potential, TikTok is more focused on what exactly you could taste if you tried to lick it.@dr.karanr on TikTok talked about the TTTV in a video and briefly explained its mechanics. Unsurprisingly, the comment section is filled with people who are interested in more than just tasting food. A quick glance at the reactions to the video shows names of A-list celebrities, assumptions that the TV will be used in less-than-appropriate ways, and very little about tasting actual food. "Fifty Shades of Grey just got a whole lot weirder," said one user, and that's all the summary the comment section requires.

The invention made a huge splash not just on TikTok, but all over social media. However, the idea of it also raises a lot of questions, such as concerns about the hygiene of having multiple people use the same TTTV, especially in the times of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Believe it or not, it may actually be safer than it seems.

One step closer to a fully multisensory experience

The TTTV is still in its prototype stage, but it has already been tested and proven to function. The invention is the result of the work of Professor Homei Miyashita of Meiji University in Tokyo, Japan. The prototype took Miyashita over a year to build, and he is now working with a team of around 30 students to improve TTTV with various gadgets, such as a fork that improves the taste of food.

The invention of the so-called "lickable TV" marks a huge step towards creating a fully multisensory viewing experience. However, it's hard not to think of the hygienic aspect of having to lick a television screen, although Miyashita seems to have found a workaround for that.

TTTV uses its 10 flavor canisters to create combinations that faithfully recreate the taste of particular foods. Once mixed, the flavor sample is then sprayed over a hygienic film that covers a flat-screen television. It can then be licked to let the viewer taste what's on the screen. Assuming just one person uses the same film, it sounds like it could be a fairly safe experience. In fact, Miyashita believes that the device is especially useful in light of the global pandemic.

TTTV may have potential for COVID patients

Other than the various hilarity proposed by TikTok, this somewhat bizarre invention can bring a lot of good at a time when many people are forced to stay home. "The goal is to make it possible for people to have the experience of something like eating at a restaurant on the other side of the world, even while staying at home," said professor Homei Miyashita. He also notes that there are other possible uses for the TTTV.

The professor mentioned distance learning for sommeliers and cooks as one way to utilize the TTTV. There may also one day be tasting games and quizzes that can be played online thanks to this device. Lastly, it could prove helpful to people who are recovering from COVID and have lost their sense of taste.

A student from Meiji University demonstrated how the device works in a video shared by Reuters. It seems that the TTTV can be controlled via voice. She requested a sample of sweet chocolate and she was able to try it out for herself. The student said that it tasted "like a sweet chocolate sauce."

Miyashita estimates that a commercial version of Taste the TV would cost around $875 to make. While it may not achieve worldwide recognition right away, it's certainly an interesting step towards a fully immersive VR experience that engages all senses.