A salt on the senses: Electric fork adds guilt-free flavor (VIDEO)
The fork developed by researchers, under the lead of Hiromi Nakamura at Rekimoto Lab in the University of Tokyo, generates a salty taste by stimulating the tongue with electricity.
The device draws on an "electric test for taste" which is used to determine if a taste cell of a tongue is dead or alive, and exploits the fact that a tongue registers a salty or sour flavor when electricity is applied to it, according to Nikkei Technology.
The cutlery is powered by a rechargeable battery, and its electric circuit is activated when the user presses a button on the handle.
The prototype cost less than $18 to produce - excluding the cost of a fork.
There are, so far, three degrees of saltiness from which to choose.
The fork can also create sour and metallic tastes, and works well when other spices such as pepper and garlic are present in the food being consumed, generating the salty taste effect more easily.
The product is aimed mainly at people who need to follow low-salt or salt-free diets.
The prototype was tested last week at the "No Salt Restaurant", a project that offers salt-free full-course meals.
An event will be held early next month for members of the public to test the utensil for themselves.