Artificial Mouths

 - May 19, 2008
References: technology.newscientist
Food quality and flavours are of great importance in the food industry. Human taste-testers are still better at deciding if processed food is going to do anything for our palate. Recently, French scientists came up with a robotic or artificial mouth that mimics the way humans chew hard foods like apples. These robots provide us with a better understanding of the types of flavours released during the first stage of food digestion.

When we chew on food, the flavours we taste comes from the release of volatile compounds in the food which then channels around the back of the mouth and up to the nose. These volatile compounds in hard food like apples are released very differently depending on whether it is sliced, crushed or pureed. The artificial muncher complete with rudimentary spiky teeth, compresses and rotates just as our jaws do and even comes with artificial saliva to make the chow-down more realistic. Here is the important bit - the volatile compounds are then carried away for analysis - so that researchers will know what exactly a flavour is composed of. Pass the raspberry flavour, please?