The virtual cocktail can make it seem like water is actually booze ©Future Tech Now
The world's first virtual reality bar is set to open in the UK with 'Vocktails' that trick drinkers into thinking they're downing real booze instead of water.
A high-tech martini glass blasts scents into drinkers' faces and stimulates the taste buds with electric pulses on the tongue to mask the true smell and taste of whatever they're sipping.
The glass is specially designed to mess with a person’s senses of sight, smell and taste, with the ability to augment the flavours of alcohol when it isn't making water seem like anything from whisky or wine.
Drinkers can control the features using a mobile phone app, meaning they can create an imitation cocktail with the touch of a few buttons.
The experience can be controlled with a mobile phone app ©Future Tech Now
The glass releases scents and stimulates a drinker's taste buds ©Future Tech Now
The 'Vocktail', or virtual cocktail, is the brainchild of researchers at the National University of Singapore.
It will be served for the first time at the world's first virtual reality bar at London’s Future Tech Now and Virtual Reality Show in April.
The invention is set around a martini glass that sits in a 3D-printed structure holding three scent cartridges and three micro air-pumps.
'Vocktails' will be served at the world's first virtual reality bar in London ©Future Tech Now
These release ‘smell molecules’ that change the drinker’s perception of the flavour of their drink - with a fruit scent for wine or lemon scent for lemonade, for instance.
Two electrode strips sit on the rim on the glass that then send electric pulses to stimulate the taste buds and mimic different flavours - with 180 microamps for a sour taste, 40 microamps for a salty taste and 80 microamps for a bitter taste.
An LED at the bottom of the glass flashes the colour the user decides.
The martini glass is set in a 3D-printed structure ©Future Tech Now
The colour enhances the perception of the flavour further still, with colours such as blue giving the impression of saltiness and green associated with sourness, according to researchers.
Nimesha Ranasinghe, lead researcher of the project at the National University of Singapore and an assistant professor at the University of Maine in the US, said: “I wanted to introduce taste and smell into virtual reality and came up with the idea as part of my PHD research.
“Most people who try it are like ‘wow’. The ‘wow’ factor is huge. But once they have got over this initial reaction they are really curious about trying the different effects.
“You can use real alcohol and augment the flavours, or just use water and totally change the perception of what you are drinking."
Drinkers can augment the flavour of a cocktail or make water seem like booze ©Future Tech Now
Dr Ranasinghe hopes the invention will be used in the future to help people with dietary restrictions or to help people actually on diets to consume less calories.
He added: “We can mask the flavour of any drink – including whisky and can also plug-in new smells similar to cartridges on an ink-jet printer.
“We believe it could be used in the future to help elderly people with dietary restrictions or to help people consume fewer calories but still enjoy their drinks or food by enhancing the flavours.
“It could also be used at a pub if you wanted your cocktail to taste a little bit more sour or for people who don’t want to drink. The possibilities are endless.”
The inventors are now working with companies to bring it onto the market in the near future.
The Virtual Cocktail will be available for the UK public to try for the first time at the world’s first Vocktail Bar, built for the Future Tech Now Show at Business Design Centre London, from April 5 to 7.
The show will be open to businesses on the April 5 and 6 and the public on the final day.
The show brings together the players from the immersive technology, robotics and AI industries, with an estimated 8,000 attendees expected over three days.
More information is available here.