Whiskey-sipping artificial tongue has a taste for the good stuff
A dedicated human connoisseur can tell a 10 year old Glenfiddich from an 18 year old Macallan, but that kind of fine distinction has been beyond machines.
Thanks to Dr. Uwe Bunz, an organic chemist at Heildelberg University in Germany, the day of the robot whiskey connoisseur may soon be upon us. He's invented a new artificial tongue that can tell the good stuff from the rotgut. His sensor fluoresces differently depending on the unique properties of the whiskey he tests, and a machine learning algorithm has been able to take that pattern of glowing light, and associate it with particular whiskies, so that he can identify the spirits by type and age.
This research was partially self-funded, as Dr. Bunz hesitated to charge fine whiskey to his academic budget. So he spent nearly 1,000 Euros of his own money on samples. Fortunately there was lots left over for his liquor cabinet, so he has been able to enjoy the leftovers.
A sensitive chemical "tasting" sensor has a lot of potential applications, including spotting counterfeit products.