Wine Robot: Auto-Sommelier

Wine RobotVia MSNBC.com:

The ability to discern good wine from bad, name the specific brand from a tiny sip and recommend a complementary cheese would seem to be about as human a skill as there is.

In Japan, robots are doing it.

Researchers at NEC System Technologies and Mie University have designed a robot that can taste — an electromechanical sommelier able to identify dozens of different wines, cheeses and hors d’oeuvres.

This is indeed a cute gizmo: “When it has identified a wine, the robot speaks up in a childlike voice. It names the brand and adds a comment or two on the taste, such as whether it is a buttery chardonnay or a full-bodied shiraz, and what kind of foods might go well on the side.”

Fortunately for human sommeliers, the winebot still needs a little work. It can be programmed to identify only a few dozen wines at the moment. In addition, the chemical changes in wines that occur when it breathes can confuse the wine’s “signature”.

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