Somewhat surprising is that these reactions resemble how humans react to taste. Another neuroscientist published reviews and papers that observed similarities in how humans' faces, rats' faces and different primates' faces contort after tasting different flavors. Fontanini says that facial expressions may be a better way to gauge palatability.
While that might be something for Opertech Bio to look into for MOG 2.0, the current version has already produced some useful results for the flavor industry. "We've already identified multiple novel sweeteners that our clients have validated in human studies," said CEO Scott Horvitz.
"We are confidential, but I can say we interact with major players in the food and beverage industry."
Though the MOG is meant to get a better sense of the human palate, Fido and Whiskers might also benefit from the technology as well. "There's a lot of interest [in the MOG] from the pet food industry," said Horvitz.
But while the MOG might have a lot of financial promise, Opertech Bio is still a startup in its infancy waiting for its big breakthrough. "It's only a year and a half old," said Horvitz. "I mean, our website is designed by my teenage daughter."