Tech And Good Taste: Could An "E-Tongue" Be Used To Lick Pollution?

We have devices that mimic all of our major senses...cameras can capture things we see, microphones listen to us, tablets and other gadgets respond to touch, and bomb detectors "sniff" out explosive devices by detecting their particles in the air.  But what about taste?  Now, a new invention serves to recreate that popular sense...and for some good reasons.

It's complicated, trying to replicate human physiology.
(Image courtesy

According to, an electronic tongue is in development by scientists from the American Chemical Society.  Its uses could range from sampling food that may have gone disastrously bad to testing for water pollution or blood disease (stuff you wouldn't want your real tongue to have to endure.)  Sensors in the silicone-based "e-tongue" pick up traces of different "flavors" of things, much as tastebuds would, and the data is sent to a computer for assessment.

The e-tongue has already been critically tested on a very important distinction:  the difference between Armagnac, cognac, whiskey and water.  Proving successful at identifying the various "signatures" for each, the e-tongue can now undergo further tests to assess its adeptness at more nuanced (if gross) "flavors" of pollutants and bio-contaminants.  For a safe and smart means of testing a spectrum of such signatures, the e-tongue just makes sense.

Their prototype setup regarding testing for bio-contaminants is a little weird, though.
(Image courtesy

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