To tell you the truth, I could use a good drink as I watch the stock market go up and down. Like many consumers, I am confounded by so many choices of wine, so it is about time a “robot sommelier” was introduced. This is a real first in the world of wine; as of 2009 , there were only 171 people that actually qualified to hold the title of “Master Sommelier.”
The key to a good sommelier is the tongue. Earlier this year, the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona announced its completion of an “electronic tongue” that is made from a group of sensors and biosenors. The “biologically-inspired electronic tongue” is activated by “binding to tastant molecules – in this case sugar molecules” to determine which wine is fit for consumption with your tapas. This is done by using an array of “voltammetric sensors that sends an electronic signal with a particular pattern” to reflect the wine’s “sugar concentration.” This process mimics our own electrical signals that are passed from the tongue’s neurons to the brain. The scientists, led by professor Manel del Valle, have published their findings of the electronic tongue which has successfully discriminated three distinct Spanish wines. Of course, there is a lot of work before they would even think of introducing the tongue to the French…
While this is a cute application, one has to wonder what the practical needs are for such a Tongue. I mean, there has to be more to this investment than just finding the perfect glass of wine. In Israel, Hossam Haick at the Israel Institute of Technology has created an electronic nose that “acts as a breathalyser for detecting cancer.” Believe it or not, Haick’s electronic nose has been very successful in sniffing out tumors.
These Sensory Robots provide real solutions to problems that are beyond our mortal capacity. I am personally looking forward to the back massage robot that can detect nerve or muscle pain with the slightest electronic touch. So let’s raise our glasses to the bots, L’Chaim!