Augmented reality: it's like reality, only better. Usually it's something visual, but you can augment any of your senses, and Keio University has been able to augment taste with sound and vibration that can make licking a lollipop feel like your mouth is full of fireworks.
The food texture augmentation system, called TagCandy, is really just a fancy speaker. You stick a lollipop into one end, and as you put it in your mouth the speaker kicks in and causes the lollipop to vibrate. By subtly controlling these vibrations the system can create all kinds of different textural sensations in your mouth, including things you may want to taste, such as fizzy soda or a crisp apple, and flavors you may be curious about, like, uh, explosive fireworks or an airplane.
Apparently, the system works pretty well, taking home two awards at the 2010 International Student Virtual Reality Contest. Users say that the fizzy soda sensation is very realistic, and that the fireworks textures were fun. Dynamic texture isn't really something that's ever been applied to food before, so there's a lot of potential here. For example, with this device you could make things fizzy that would otherwise be impossible to carbonate, like meat. Mmmmm, fizzy bacon.
In addition to creating totally new tactile experiences, this technology could also be used to enhance the experience of eating candy that you already love. Imagine sucking on an atomic fireball and having it feel just like an atomic fireball going off in your mouth, or eating a jawbreaker while the system turns itself up to 11 and attempts to actually break your jaw. The possibilities may be endless, but you only have one mouth, so you'd better be careful what you try to eat with this thing.
Watch all the action in the video below.