It seems that technology is advancing to try and capitalize on all five of our senses. In this article by Lauren O”Neil they talk about a new technological breakthrough that would allow you to taste flavours generated by the device. While they talk about using this technology to benefit diabetics, by allowing them to taste sugar products, or for people undergoing chemotherapy, to make food taste better, it could have a much further reach into our lives. By combining this technological advance with our online behaviour, social media experiences and love of brands and consumer goods it opens the door to a myriad of possibilities.
Would this create a new style of programming? Would blog posts have the ability to add textures and taste to their subject line? It would bring a whole new meaning to flavour text. Now while that’s a pretty bad pun, it is also technically true since it would also create a whole new area of public relations study. I like to call it papilliographics, a study of determining your target audience by their taste breakdowns (sweetness,sourness,saltiness,bitterness and umami). It could theoretically be a database where computers would calculate the percentages of those five categories modified by the average number of taste bud receptors in a target demographics mouth. While I won’t bore you with an in-depth analysis of papilliographics (although feel free to contact me), it’s just a taste of what would happen next.
Suddenly internet sites would be trying to lure people in by the added flavour factors. Who wouldn’t make it part of their day to visit Cinnabon for that daily taste sensation, especially if you were on a diet. Imagine the cornucopia of flavours your Twitter feed would become. How would that change your following habits? Would the new social mavens be revered for their taste palette as well as their unique style?
Of course the coin has two sides. Imagine stumbling across new sites on the internet for that random flavour factor – a button clicking game of Russian roulette. Or when hackers could change an unprotected sites flavour or when you accidentally step into a forum full of trolls and you get that sewer taste of hate and disrespect in your mouth. How many synthesized coffees would that take to get out?
It would also be a challenge to match companies to the flavours that make them unique. Especially with a limited palette, like all new technologies have. Would internet search engines have to be vanilla or would they get daring and go outside the basics? After all could you imagine the taste of Google Chrome?
It would also be great for companies looking for a cheaper source of brand market research. Starbucks could field test new flavours and gauge their reaction without having to brew one single cup. You could taste the menu of your favourite restaurant without leaving your home. There’d be a whole new type of taste media devoted to this. Tasteogram anyone?
Then again how long would it take to burn us out completely from wanting to taste things in the internet and in real life? Make us reluctant to try the unknown, make a dinner that could be burnt or have soggy vegetables, without trying them on our computer first.
Perhaps one day when they figure out texture and make it an exact science that might happen. Companies could stop making real world products to save production costs and focus solely on the online experience. They could also bring back items that haven’t existed in the marketplace for over fifty years. Who wouldn’t want to taste that Malted Milk chocolate bar from their childhood.
It’s an interesting concept to think that one day we may be able to “taste” the internet. It would be the next game changer for the marketing, public relations and advertising industries. But like all new technology and how its perceived and accepted – until it happens it all comes down to word of mouth. And with that bad pun I think i’ll end this on a sour note.