Scientists build beer-detecting robot tongue

31st January, 2014 by Lauren Eads

Spanish scientists have succeeded in building an electronic tongue capable of distinguishing between different beer; that could one day provide robots with a sense of taste.

640_electronic-tongue-croppedThe tongue, developed by Spanish researchers at the Now, scientists at the Autonomous University of Barcelona has recorded an 82% success rate in detecting various beer brands.

The device uses 21 ion-selective electrodes capable of detecting chemical elements including sodium, ammonium, chloride and nitrate.

Manel del Valle, from the University of Barcelona and main author of the study which was published in the journal Food Chemistry, said: “The electronic tongue uses a generic array of sensors with generic response to various chemical compounds involved”.

“The device generates a varied spectrum of information with advanced tools for processing, pattern recognition and even artificial neural networks.”

Beers successfully distinguished by the tongue include Schwarzbier, lager, double malt, Pilsen, Alsatian and low-alcohol.

However the system can only recognise brands for which it has been “trained” to detect, failing to correctly pick out beer-soft drink mixes or foreign makes, or the alcohol content of the beer.

Researchers believe that the device could in the future be used to give robots with a sense of taste and possibly enable the creation of scientifically accurate food industry testers.

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