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Human Interaction in Virtual Environments Lab
Department of Computer Science
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Taste: Elements of the Gustatory Sense

It is thought that the human tongue and palette contain five types of taste receptors, grouped together in bundles (taste buds), and that there are five "base tastes:" sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. Though each type of receptor can sense all five base tastes, each type is more sensitive to one specific base taste. Also, the different receptor types are not uniformly distributed on the surface of the tongue, and the receptors only receive a taste stimulus in the presence of liquid, such as saliva. Our sense of taste is also heavily influenced by the olfactory sense, so it is difficult to address taste without addressing smell. Gustatory displays are inherently private, as the stimulus must be ingested. One approach to providing taste cues is to distribute off-the-shelf materials (e.g., a liquid) into the mouth. Food manufacturers and market research firms are very active in researching how people sense taste.
We thank the following companies for their support:
[qnx] [ati]
[nvidia] [ageia]