Scientists have produced a clever little device: a small handheld sensor that indicates what type of sweetener is in either a food or drink. The researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign believe this is yet another step towards creating an artificial tongue, complete with the sense of taste.
Similar to middle-school litmus paper tests, the sensor uses color-coded dots to show what sweeteners are used in a product. Until now, a similar test took about 30 minutes, and now is accomplished in two minutes. The sensor is being presented as a quality-control device for manufacturers to tell how sweet a product is, but they also mention developing sensors for the other basic tastes, such as sour and bitterness.
As someone who keeps an eye on caloric intake and also as the sibling of a Type-1 diabetic, a more practical use is to make sure that Diet Coke that my brother or I ordered wasn't accidentally switched with a sugar-laden Coke. For one of us, it's a very serious mistake.