Over the years, there have been many technological advances in areas like communication, entertainment and even vehicles. Yet, step into the kitchen and you’ll likely see many of the same tools, gadgets and appliances that have been in use for decades. But while innovation in food technology has been relatively slow, it’s still happening and it’s already beginning to have an impact on how we prepare and enjoy meals. Let’s take a look at five specific ways tech is enhancing the eating experience.
3D Food Printing
Don’t feel like making the trip to the supermarket? Why not just print your food instead? Sounds a bit farfetched, but thanks to innovative new machines, like the Foodini, soon we’ll be able to print up our meals using real, fresh ingredients. With 3D food printing, consumers will be able to have more control over what they’re putting in their bodies, and since you only print the exact amount you need, it’ll cut waste as well. What’s more, with the ability to produce “meatless” meat, these printers also have the potential to help reduce carbon emissions.
Did you know that nearly 80% of what we taste can actually be attributed to smell? Some innovators are taking this concept to a whole new level by using scent to replicate the taste of food without having to actually consume anything. Believe it or not, spraying scents of a tastier food while eating bland or low-calorie foods has actually been proven to improve the taste and/or quality of what’s being eaten. Great news for dieters everywhere! Where will the smells come from? Some companies are already working on mobile plug-ins and apps that will emit the scent of whatever food you’re craving.
Waiting for your turn at a busy restaurant might become a thing of the past, thanks to artificial intelligence technology. Robotic waiters are already being used around the world, and some restaurants are even introducing technology into the kitchen. One restaurant in China has robotic chefs preparing meals that are then delivered by a robotic wait staff. To a lesser degree, many eateries are utilizing tools like self-service tablets to enable customers to do everything from order another round of drinks to paying the tab – all without having to hail down a human server.
Ever wonder what’s actually in the food on your plate? Some of the more in-depth foodie apps that are being developed will enable the use of infrared technology to identify the food, its weight and even its caloric value. Companies, like Consumer Physics, are creating food scanners that use IR spectrometry. When the IR beam is aimed at food, it bounces back and the scanner then analyzes the food’s makeup and nutritional details.
Virtual Reality (VR)
We already use virtual reality in video games and even some types of marketing, but now the technology seems to be making its way into our dining experiences as well. Imagine being able to enjoy all the sights, smells and feelings associated with your favorite foods (especially the indulgent or forbidden ones) without having to worry about any of the downsides. This technology combines the use of a VR headset with an aromatic diffuser, a gyroscopic utensil, a 3D printer and a device known as a bone conduction transducer, which transfers the sounds a mouth makes when chewing to the eardrums.
Technology has infiltrated every area of our lives, and now it seems it’s even beginning to push the boundaries of food. From 3D printers to scent and virtual eating experiences, the way we eat tomorrow promises to be markedly different from the way things are today.