lemonade

Singapore researchers turn water into 'virtual lemonade'

SINGAPORE: It looks like lemonade, tastes like lemonade, but it is simply water.

Researchers in Singapore say they have invented a “virtual lemonade”, using electrodes to mimic the flavour of the beverage and LED lights to imitate its colour, that could one day allow people to digitally share drinks over the Internet.

“We are primarily motivated by the fact that our current digital interactions are not supportive for sharing beverages and food, which is something very common in our everyday lives,” said Nimesha Ranasinghe, who led the team that did the research.

The team conducting the research at the NUS-Keio CUTE Center, a collaboration between the National University of Singapore and Japan’s Keio University, decided to focus on the sour taste of lemonade to prove their idea.

A sensor dipped into a glass of real lemonade collects data on its acidity and colour, which is transmitted via Bluetooth to silver electrode strips on the rim of a tumbler.

The action of a drinker running their tongue over the strip in taking a sip causes the electrodes to simulate the sour taste, while a light-emitting diode (LED) flashes yellow.

The technology can also simulate bitter and salty sensations, Ranasinghe said, adding that it could help people on restricted diets who need to cut back on salt or calories.

“We can even help the people who want to cut down their calorie intake,” she added. “If he craves lemonade, and can have a virtual lemonade, he can get the same experience, but zero calories.”

Still, the design needs some improvement, said student Genevieve Low, a volunteer who participated in tests of the drink.

“I think it’s definitely the way the tongue touches the cup, because no one would, sub-consciously or consciously, put their tongue onto the electrode and then drink the water,” she said in a recent test round.

Another volunteer student, Wang Pan, was surprised by the taste.

“I was imagining the electronic taste, but it’s actually quite real to me because it’s really mild, like mild-sweet. It’s less sour than the real lemonade,” she said. 

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ancient-japanese-wood-strip

Ancient Japan 'more cosmopolitan' than thought: Researchers

TOKYO: Ancient Japan may have been far more cosmopolitan than previously thought, archaeologists said Wednesday (Oct 5), pointing to fresh evidence of a Persian official working in the former capital Nara more than 1,000 years ago.

Present-day Iran and Japan were known to have had direct trade links since at least the 7th century, but new testing on a piece of wood – first discovered in the sixties – suggest broader ties, the researchers said.

Infrared imaging revealed previously unreadable characters on the wood – a standard writing surface in Japan before paper – that named a Persian official living in the country.

The official worked at an academy where government officials were trained, said Akihiro Watanabe, a researcher at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.

The official may have been teaching mathematics, Watanabe added, pointing to ancient Iran’s expertise in the subject.

“Although earlier studies have suggested there were exchanges with Persia as early as the 7th century, this is the first time a person as far away as Persia was known to have worked in Japan (during the period),” he said.

“And this suggests Nara was a cosmopolitan city where foreigners were treated equally.”

Nara was the capital of Japan from around 710 A.D. to around 784 A.D. before it was moved to Kyoto and later present-day Tokyo.

The discovery comes after another team of researchers last month unearthed ancient Roman coins at the ruins of an old castle in Okinawa in southern Japan.

It was the first time coins from the once mighty empire have been discovered in Japan, thousands of kilometres from where they were likely minted.

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