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Communications of the ACM


Machine Learning, Meet Whiskey

glass of whiskey

Credit: Getty Images

Picking out the differences between high-end whiskeys might be easy for a seasoned Scotch drinker, but until recently, this skill eluded artificial systems. Now researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed an artificial tongue capable of distinguishing between drams of Glen-fiddich, Glen Marnoch, and Laphroaig whiskeys with 99% accuracy.

The "tongue" itself consists of tiny gold receptors that measure just 100 nanometers across, or approximately one-thousandth the width of a human hair. These bits of gold, which exhibit unusual optical properties at the nanoscale, function as artificial taste buds. When exposed to a liquid, the receptors change color. The researchers measure and track the changes across multiple receptors, then build up a statistical model of a given liquid's attributes.


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