They see what you feel
Texture - the totality of all palpable or tactile qualities - as opposed to other properties such as visual appearance, odor, and in some cases taste - is a very important feature which influences the acceptance of such products as e.g. margarine, mayonnaise and ice-cream. It is the result of different ingredients and the way in which those ingredients are combined and processed to form a given material with a characteristic microstructure.
This microstructure is the key to specific changes. As could be shown by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, SIK, the palpable properties of a material can be visualized under the microscope and these pictures can than be systematically evaluated by the help of image analyses.
Interestingly, this task can be done only partly by computer software. Human eyes and brains are much better equipped for recognizing slight differences in complex patterns and structures. Thus human experts are able to recognize small details more reliably than can modern digital techniques - details which serve as important clues for the product designers as to precisely where changes are necessary. This method, which is called "sensory image analysis" by SIK-researchers, in contrast to "digital image analysis", is suitable not only for texture research on emulsion-products but also research on many other materials.
The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology
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