Scientists at City, University of London recently showed off a device called the Taste Buddy that magically — well, electrically — tricks your tongue into thinking a vegetable, like broccoli, tastes like chocolate. All you have to do is put a device in your mouth and let it zap you a bit.

Taste Buddy works by stimulating taste buds in a way that allows it to imitate the sensations we get from sweet or salty foods. The hope is that this technology will convince people to eat healthy foods by making them taste like something they enjoy, with the natural conversion being from vegetables to saccharine treats.

“What started out as a fun engineering experiment has now led to something much more exciting, with the potential to have a positive social impact,” project lead Adrian Cheok said. “The ‘Taste Buddy’ is a great example of skilled science and engineering working hand in hand with a relevant and fun impact. The Taste Buddy could eventually help save lives, by allowing people to switch to healthier food choices.”

Taste Buddy in action.
Taste Buddy in action.

Eventually the tech in Taste Buddy might be shrunk down and built into utensils, allowing people to decide the flavor of anything they eat, Cheok said in a press release about the system, published on October 12. Taken a step further, one has to wonder if eventually something like Taste Buddy could be installed right into our mouths, allowing us total control over what we taste, with our biohacked tongues, at any moment.

Biohacking can be used for everything, from creating super soldiers to helping the blind see. Why not use it to make everyday life more pleasant by helping vegetables not taste like trash?

Plus, maybe that way we could forget that delicious food is basically just bacteria and yeast poop. Better to stimulate your tongue with electricity than to dwell on exactly how gross all food is, whether it tastes like chocolate or not.

Here’s the rub: Cheok and his team have given Taste Buddy a tentative release date of “within the next 20 years.” That’s an awful long time for broccoli to continue tasting like, well, broccoli. Inverse reached out to City University to see if we can get a more definitive timeline on when this miracle device might save us from the awfulness of healthy foods.

Photos via City University, The Telegraph