From the experimental nature of food science, to sensory experiences such as “Dining in the Dark” restaurants, I have been continually delighted by the exciting direction that food is headed. For my final project I wanted to explore a new way to engage with food, and set out in search of a unique perspective that would serve as a point of inspiration. After many hours of thinking I began to wonder what a food experience would be like if you couldn’t taste your food. We’ve all experienced a cold and the temporary loss of taste, but what if it was permanent? How would this affect your relationship with food? What would become important to enhance?

Since 80% of what we perceive as taste comes from what we smell, I began looking into Anosmia, or the loss of the sense of smell. I was interested in figuring out how I might enhance the dining experience for those who cannot taste. After interviews with several Anosmia sufferers, I learned that when dining, they compensated for their loss of taste through textures, colors, and companionship. Based on these insights, I began research in the fields of food science, sensory perception, and experimental psychology to see if certain materials, textures, and colors could work together to subconsciously influence the mind in ways that would result in a new way to experience food. Through numerous user tests I found that there was a relationship between what we touch and what we taste, and came up with a method of pairing the five basic tastes of the human palate (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami) with common textures familiar to most people. From there I connected the findings to customized foods and ingredients with the aim of creating a library of textures that could be referenced as a way of replacing taste. The end result became Taktil.

Taktil is a physical tool to explore taste through touch. It uses haptic interaction and crossmodal correspondence to discover taste perception in a unique way. Taktil comes in a case of 15 swatches with a texture on the front, and a taste profile with popular matching ingredients or foods on the back. By choosing several swatches based on touch, you can mix and match to discover new combinations for a meal uniquely inspired by a different part of your brain. The digital companion app acts as a mobile library as well as an inspiration hub for new combinations and recipes.