Opertech's Pioneering Approach
Opertech has created an entirely new technology platform for sensory measurement, called TāStation® (Taste + Station).
Although scientific understanding of taste biology has advanced dramatically in recent years, taste testing methods have remained essentially unchanged over the last century. Human taste panels are typically comprised of 20 to 60 participants and require large quantities of compounds, ingredients, or formulations to carry out a taste evaluation. Additionally, only a few samples can be evaluated per test, which can take an entire day or more to conduct, and results may be unreliable given the many factors that influence a person’s daily subjective experience of taste.
Before TāStation®, taste testing required many subjects, large amounts of test samples, and days to weeks for evaluation of only a few samples, all adding up to extensive expenditures in resources and dollars. TāStation® accomplishes taste testing on hundreds of samples in an afternoon, using far fewer subjects and much less sample, at a fraction of the cost and with greater accuracy and consistency than previously possible.
The TāStation® system is a groundbreaking approach to quantifying sensory characteristics of novel compounds, flavor ingredients, and new formulations, that surpasses the shortcomings of traditional taste testing. TāStation® operates under a common set of unique principles:
Every aspect of the TāStation® system is automated—sample delivery, recording a subject’s responses, data storage and analysis—minimizing variability and mistakes due to manual operations that normally occur in traditional taste tests.
TāStation® is the first high throughput taste evaluation system, with a capacity for evaluating hundreds of samples in a day. Sample volumes are typically only 0.2 milliliters (mL), minimizing the costs of ingredients needed for testing.
The high throughput nature of TāStation® enables the rapid generation of large, robust datasets. As a result, only a few subjects are needed for any given test. TāStation® automatically moves the data from all tests, along with subject variables and details on samples and test protocols, into a database where it can be mined and analyzed through directed queries.
The TāStation® system is designed for objective measurement of taste—no subjective ranking scales or verbal reports.
TāStation® accommodates as many configurations of experimental design as possible, with its capacity to simultaneously measure multiple dimensions of taste properties.
TāStation® is the first automated high throughput system for rapid characterization of taste sensory properties.
The TāStation® system dramatically reduces the reliance on traditional taste panel testing and the associated expenditure of resources in time and costs. TāStation® technology enables our customers to make informed decisions, which can lead to accelerated timelines.
The TāStation® system includes a portable work station with an automated system for delivering small samples in rapid succession to a subject. An individual is trained through an interactive algorithm, which operates like a game, to respond on a touch sensitive monitor using his or her ability to detect and distinguish taste stimuli.
Responses are rewarded with an incremental point system that incentivizes sensory acuity. The subjects are focused on the game and may not even be aware that their taste sensitivities and preferences are being recorded.
More data means greater informative power. The comparatively large datasets rapidly generated by the TāStation® system are amenable to sophisticated computational and analytic tools not practical for the limited information gained through traditional taste assessment.
Among the many advantages include: vastly reduced errors, greater precision in detecting taste effects, improved consistency and predictive value of test outcomes, and the ability to more quickly and broadly test across a diversity of human subjects.
Quantifies multiple taste dimensions
Tastant discovery—any taste system
Flavor formulation optimization
Small quantities of test compound required
Enables testing of blends, mixtures, and natural products
Particularly useful for revealing synergistic combinations of ingredients
Throughput of hundreds of test samples per day
This project is supported by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA, an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.