Digital taste and smell may be closer than we think
by Danae Bersi, Content Creator, New Agriculture New Generation

Our beneficiaries:

Meet Digital Bites, one of the winners of the Trophy-Τροφή Challenge

A discussion with Theodoros Sofianos

Theodoros Sofianos, together with Loukas Kakalis and Michalis Tziortzis, participated in the Ideas category of the Trophy-Τροφή Challenge competition which was once again implemented with great success by the organization "New Agriculture New Generation". The team presented an idea that can be a real innovation in the agri-food sector.

Digital Bites is working to create a gadget that can digitally reproduce the senses of taste and smell, enabling users to experience any taste digitally and remotely, even from their home.

About the team:

Theodoros, Loukas and Michalis, they all come from Thessaloniki. Theodoros studied at the School of Agriculture of the Aristotle University in the Department of Food Technology, while at the same time he has specialized in the organoleptic evaluation of food. Lucas, on the other hand, is an Electrical Engineer, a graduate of the Aristotle University, and Michalis is a Mechanical Engineer, graduate of the same university.

The funny thing is, according to Theodoros, that their acquaintance happened completely by chance in the army, where they served together and since then, they have remained close friends. "At the beginning of 2021, as we were on a watch with Lucas early in the morning, we talked about concepts such as innovation, ideas related to artificial intelligence and much more, mainly to idle away time," says Theodoros. "Somehow, at some point we wondered what it would be like if someone could somehow digitize taste or smell?"

So somehow the idea came to their mind and, although it remained in the drawer for some time, the Trophy-Τροφή Challenge competition arise and they decided to go for it.

Making things happen:

A few months ago, Theodoros saw an announcement for the launch of the Trophy-Τροφή Challenge, implemented by “New Agriculture New Generation”, and this served as a springboard to communicate with his friends, Loukas and Michalis. "I felt that there was an opportunity here, that we could finally begin our application and make things happen through the competition”, he says.

The device that 'hacks' the biology of human sensors

The truth is that we live in a world that gets ‘more digital’ every day. However, in the field of agri-food, technology does not seem to have advanced that much, Theodoros mentions. "If you want to buy a food product, why not try it digitally first and then see if you are really interested?" he says.

Digital Bites has started creating a small peripheral device that reproduces three senses together, taste, smell and some aspects connected to the sense of touch, such as temperature for example. This device communicates with the tongue or nasal cavity and sends the necessary electrical signals to the user's brain, giving the 'sense of these senses', that is, how the human brain perceives them.


"The competition was the trigger we needed to get started"

The team managed to be one of the winners of the Ideas category of the Trophy-Τροφή Challenge and Theodoros is really happy for their distinction.

"I think it was a great experience and a big opportunity for us. Our participation in the Trophy-Τροφή Challenge was something that kept us going and finally united us in a common goal and purpose," he says.

He also states that the team has finally stood on its own feet and that they were particularly helped by all the advice and knowledge they received from distinguished scientists and professionals in the agri-food sector, through their participation in the competition.

"We feel the coaches and the team of the organization are always there to help us. They offer us encouragement and guidance on how to continue our project"

The team has now almost perfected its business model with the help of the mentors assigned to them by the “New Agriculture New Generation” organization as part of their prize. At the same time, they have already ordered, through the cash prize they received, a large part of the necessary equipment in order to build the necessary software and start creating the various ‘profiles’ of flavors, as Theodoros says.

"We focus first on food companies and industry professionals. We believe that on the one hand they would be more receptive to using such technology and on the other hand it would be something that might help them in the field of research and product development" says Theodoros while adding "Ideally, in some years we want to make it an integral part of e-commerce for food and why not, to be part of the increasingly emerging metaverse".