Founder, Chief Gastronaut
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
M.Sc. '19, Ph.D. '22
My name is Murat Onen. I am a research scientist, an inventor, and a Ph.D. candidate from MIT. Throughout my academic career, I worked on vastly different projects including clinical neuroscience, artificial intelligence, analog computing, superconductivity, and nanoionics in which I published numerous research articles and hold over a dozen patents. Having experience in these rather distant areas puts me in a unique position to undertake an equally multidimensional quest that has marveled me since childhood: unraveling the mysteries of flavor.
The sensory impression which we label as flavor comprises multiple levels of complexities all the way from organic chemistry, to neurophysiology and ultimately, to cognitive psychology. Even without knowing any specifics in such, all of us can accurately identify the artificiality or taintedness of food and beverages, redintegrate long-lost memories in split seconds, and have (rightfully) strong opinions regarding the superiority of our family recipes. This begs the question: what more can we do if we understand further? As an MIT-trained engineer and a self-proclaimed gastronaut, I decided to find an answer to this. In particular, I focused on a category that best exemplifies how intricate and diverse flavor profiles can get.
The Artefact explores the building blocks behind the complex flavors of whiskies, brandies, gins, and bitters. It uses a proprietary database that includes the chemical constituents and their respective sensory evaluations for bottled spirits and natural flavorants (such as fruits, botanicals, and woods). The analysis of this dataset yields three important outputs: (1) the fundamental flavorants to compose complex profiles, (2) structures explaining how individual aromatics behave when combined together, and (3) a language model that can bidirectionally translate between everyday descriptors and chemical concentrations. This technology not only allows mimicking existing expressions but can also revive forgotten recipes and even create ones that have never before existed. As fascinating as it readily is, I strongly believe the most enjoyable drink is still the one shared with fellow enthusiasts. Therefore, I am now designing a version that can bring this concept, to your home next.
The Artefact is the next generation drink-making machine that allows you to craft your own personalized spirits expressions at the touch of a button. Through an intuitive interface, the user freely determines the flavor profile by adjusting the concentration levels of a large set of natural aromatics that will be added to the base spirit. The built-in AI module learns the taste preferences of the user to personally guide them explore new expressions. Moreover, the software platform serves as a virtual tavern where the community can gather, discuss recipes, and run events such as remote blind tastings and flavor identification competitions. Ultimately, it serves as a guided vehicle to explore uncharted territories of the flavor matrix with companions all over the globe.
Ready to embark on an adventure?