Drinks

The Vocktail Turns Water Into Wine — or at Least an Appletini

There's nothing like a round of cocktails with friends after a long week. That is, unless you're trying to cut down on your drinking. Luckily, technology can help. The Vocktail is a virtual-reality drinking vessel that can make plain water (or juice, or any liquid, really) taste like almost any beverage you can imagine. It's all thanks to an electronic trick and a handy mobile app.

Somethin' Like The Real Thing

The Vocktail is a cocktail glass that's fused into a 3D-printed device that contains LED lights, scent cartridges, air pumps, and a slew of electronics, plus two electrodes on the rim of the glass. The whole thing connects via Bluetooth to a mobile app that lets you customize the drink's color, flavor, and aroma.

Say you want to create a margarita on the rocks. After filling the glass with ice water, you'd tweak a few settings on the app and adjust the LEDs to tinge the with drink a zesty green hue. Next up is aroma: with a few taps, you could tell the Vocktail to impart the scent of lime, which it would pump out from its built-in scent cartridges. Finally, you'd turn up the tartness via the electrodes on the rim, which could zap your tastebuds with about 180 microamps to create the illusion of a sour flavor. And with that, your zero-alcohol, zero-calorie margarita is complete. Like any good smartphone app, your custom cocktail settings are easy to save and share with your friends.

The Future Is Flavored

Made by Nimesha Ranasinghe and a team at the National University of Singapore, the Vocktail is part of a new avenue for virtual reality where all of the senses — not just sight and hearing — get the benefits of a digital simulation. It's not Ranasinghe's first foray into digital drinks, either. In March 2017, he and his research team presented a device you could use to send digital lemonade to a friend via the internet. It really gives "virtual-reality glasses" a whole new meaning.

To imagine what a fully immersive virtual world might be like, check out the novel "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline. The audiobook is read by Star Trek's Wil Wheaton, and it's free with a trial of Audible. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Vocktail: A Virtual Cocktail for Pairing Digital Taste, Smell, and Color Sensations

Written by Ashley Hamer January 12, 2018

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