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Minimize RSR Award Detail

Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Maine
  • Nimesha Ranasinghe
  • (207) 299-2282
Award Date:07/09/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 50,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 50,000
  • FY 2020=$50,000
Start Date:07/01/2020
End Date:12/31/2020
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:I-Corps: An interactive flavor enhancing spoon
Federal Award ID Number:2032788
DUNS ID:186875787
Parent DUNS ID:071750426
Program Officer:
  • Ruth Shuman
  • (703) 292-2160

Awardee Location

Street:5717 Corbett Hall
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Maine
Street:5717 Corbett Hall
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is the development of an alternative methodology to enhance flavor sensations of food and beverages while reducing the consumption of excessive condiments such as salt. Although it is recommended that a typical American consumes less than 2300 mg of sodium per day to maintain a healthy eating pattern, the average consumption is 3500 mg per day. Most of the sodium consumed is in the form of salt, and excess sodium intake increases the blood pressure and risk for heart disease and stroke. It is also increasingly evident that the taste function of older adults and cognitively impaired patients diminishes significantly. This leads these groups to consume even higher amounts of salt as a flavor enhancer. The proposed technology stimulates these sensations to simulate taste. Potential applications include novel eating and drinking utensils such as a spoon, chopsticks, and beverage tumbler that aim to promote a healthier lifestyle by replacing or reducing unnecessary condiments such as salt. Patients on special diets (e.g., restricted use of salt in sodium-reduced diets) and the elderly (suffering diminished taste perceptions) may use this technology to enhance their taste sensations virtually, making their meals more enjoyable while reducing potential side-effects. Furthermore, this technology may have applications to treat medical conditions such as xerostomia and swallowing disorders. This I-Corps project is based on the development of an “electric taste” technology that electronically simulates primary taste sensations, such as sour, salty, and bitter. It applies controlled electrical pulses to the tip of the tongue using pure silver electrodes; by controlling the frequency and the amplitude of current, it simulates different taste sensations. These utensils are embedded with electronics and silver electrodes and overlay virtual taste sensations when a user’s tongue is in contact with the silver electrodes. This enables people to experience digitally augmented taste sensations while eating and drinking. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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