Researchers in Japan have developed electronic chopsticks to enhance salty flavours in a bid to help people needing to cut their salt intake.
The chopsticks enhance salty tastes by around 1.5 times by using electrical stimulation and a mini-computer worn on a wristband, the developers claim.
Co-developed by Meiji University professor Homei Miyashita and beverage maker Kirin Holdings, the chopsticks use a weak electrical current to transmit sodium ions from food to the chopsticks and then the mouth.
This then creates a stronger feeling of saltiness, said Miyashita.
The average Japanese adult consumes about 10 grams of salt per day, double the amount recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Excess salt consumption has been linked to increased risk of high blood pressure, strokes and other illnesses.
“To prevent these diseases, we need to reduce the amount of salt we take," said Kirin researcher Ai Sato.
“If we try to avoid taking less salt in a conventional way, we would need to endure the pain of cutting our favourite food from our diet, or endure eating bland food.”
Miyashita and Kirin are refining the chopsticks prototype and hope to take them to market as early as next year.
The professor has previously developed a prototype lickable TV screen which imitates certain food flavours.
The device, called Taste the TV, used 10 flavour canisters which sprayed in varying combinations to recreate the flavour of a certain food.
The sample then rolled onto a film over a flat TV screen for the viewer to try.
Speaking in December, Miyashita said: “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.”