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The tool uses thermal and electronic signals to stimulate people’s taste buds and could eventually save lives

A device that tricks people’s tongues could be used to make healthy foods into delicious, exciting-tasting treats, according to the scientists that made it.

The Taste Buddy is placed in the mouth before eating something boring. And it then uses thermal and electric signals to make that taste far better, by stimulating the taste buds.

For the moment, that stimulation can only come in the form of sweet or salty tastes. But in the future the people behind the tool hope that they can change diets entirely, transforming salads into the taste of juicy steak or making broccoli taste like chocolate.

Professor Adrian Cheok, from City, University of London, who led the team of scientists and engineers that created the device said: "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.

"The Taste Buddy could eventually help save lives, by allowing people to switch to healthier food choices."

He added: "Many children hate the taste of vegetables. So I knew that when I became an engineer, I wanted to make a device that could allow children to eat vegetables that taste like chocolate."

In its current early form the Taste Buddy consists of a 2cm wide tab that sits on the tongue and is wired to a bulky processor.

To enhance sweetness, the device warms up very rapidly and stimulates specific taste receptors that react to heat.

A weak electric current is used to target other taste buds responsible for salty flavours.

Members of the public will have a chance to try out the Taste Buddy for themselves at The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair.

The event, aimed at young people interested in science, technology and engineering, takes place from March 15 to 18 at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham.

Additional reporting by agencies