Lancaster University researchers are exploring how new 3D printed food technologies may provide us with novel experiences or use taste as a new way to communicate.

This is because emerging 3D food printers will be able to vary taste while controlling other variable factors such as smell, colour and texture.

A new study, led by researchers at Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications, has used emerging 3D printing technology invented and developed by Dovetailed Limited to look at the relationship between taste and emotional experience.

The research explored several scenarios, such as communicating sports match results, product ratings, providing feedback on the usability of travel websites and responding to everyday situations. Their results confirm that sweet flavours are associated with positive emotions, and bitter flavours correspond with more negative feelings.

“Taste can be a powerful tool to express and communicate experiences,” said Tom Gayler, of Lancaster University and lead researcher of the study. “Although lab-based studies have looked at the relationships between basic tastes and emotions, until now we have known very little about how this extends to real-life scenarios.

“We wanted to find out more about which tastes are associated with which emotions, to discover if our sense of taste can be used to develop new experiences, and we also wanted to explore how some of these experiences, such as finding out how your favourite team did in the big match, might work,” he said.

CEO of research partner Dovetailed, Dr Vaiva Kalnikaitē highlights the impact this research could have on the development of new technologies. She said: “Our study takes advantage of emerging 3D food printing technology that allows us to isolate and control for taste and use this in a variety of scenarios to see how people react.

“Our results confirmed that sweet tastes are understood to be a positive product rating, or a winning result for a favoured sports team, and on the other hand bitter tastes were understood to convey negative results or product ratings.”

The findings, alongside emergent 3D food printing technology, open up a range of new opportunities for taste-based experiences including helping people put themselves in more optimistic or more critical moods for solving problems and making decisions, new flavour-based interfaces that can help reminiscing in old age, or for people with dementia and supporting migrant communities pass on stories and knowledge through sharing traditional tastes and flavours.

Professor Corina Sas said: “New 3D printed technologies are allowing us to explore our sense of taste like never before. This opens up exciting new possibilities to develop new, more engaging experiences, to help spark forgotten memories, or as a new way of expressing opinions.”



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