The way in which we create and consume food is changing now faster than ever. So what is just around the corner?
A new three-part special on LifeStyle FOOD, Tomorrow's Food, will change the way you think about the food you grow, buy and eat.
From future-facing farms to space-age supermarket aisles and restaurants staffed by robots, here are just a few of the food innovations in store for us.
- Restaurants Staffed by Robots
In a Shanghai restaurant, robots run the show, waiting tables and working with the chefs. The waiters glide around using optical sensors that follow a clear black line on the floor. They deliver your food and are even programmed to say nice things.
- Pizza Vending Machines
The world's 'fastest' take away pizza can be found in London - freshly made straight out of a machine! The machine mixes fresh dough for every order, sprays on tomato sauce, adds toppings, then cooks for a minute in a infra-red oven. Bellissimo!
- Robot Farmers
A farm just outside of Sydney, right here in Australia, is testing out a new breed of farmer - robots. From a solar-powered weed hunter (called a Ladybird) to flying drones that can find missing cattle or tell you when your crops are ready, these robots are designed to make farming quicker and cheaper.
“Ladybird” robot weedkiller at robot farm in Australia
- A Sonic Wine Decanter that can make wine taste better (um.. yes please!)
Can you only afford a cheap bottle of plonk? No problem. The inventors of this sonic device claim their machine can mimic the aging process. Usually over time chemicals in wine break down, smoothing and enhancing the flavour but this can take years. The sonic decanter claims to do the same thing using sound waves, in just minutes.
- An Electrical Taste Machine
At City University in London, a machine has been developed that can trick the brain into thinking it’s tasting something that isn’t there. How? By producing an electrical current which stimulates your taste neurons - so, for example you can have a virtual sour, salty, sweet taste experience. Simulating taste electronically could lead to all sorts of intriguing possibilities, like sharing it over the internet or email.
- Everlasting Food
The military have created pizza that can withstand helicopter drops, being shaken on the back of a truck, and the trickiest thing of all - sit on a shelf in 27 degrees heat for three years and still be edible. The secret ingredient? Glycerol, which binds to water in the sauce, locking it away from bacteria.
- A Talking Frying Pan
Are you a novice in the kitchen but want a perfectly-cooked medium rare steak? Then you might like the sound of this talking frying pan that will instruct you through every step. Linked to an app, a sensor in the pan measures the temperature of its surface and sends the information to the app, letting you know when your meal is just right!
- Smart Shopping Trolleys
Meet the world's most intelligent shopping trolley – it knows how and where you shop better than you. It can navigate seamlessly around the store and make helpful suggestions about what you might like to buy. It’s powered by electric motors in the wheels and it sees the world through a pair of motion sensitive cameras. Its creators believe the trolley will be in your supermarkets within five years.
The smart trolley
- 3D Printed Food
3D printers have already made headlines, printing everything from prosthetics to hand guns, but how do you feel about printed food? The idea is that one day you’ll be able to click a button and print almost any meal you like - tailored to your own taste and even your dietary needs. In the Netherlands, they are creating pasta with a computer and a printer - in any shape you want!
- Pay for Food with your Face
At a supermarket in Shanghai they’ve got a checkout payment system that uses cutting edge technology where you actually pay for your food with your face! The system uses thermal imaging to scan the network of capillaries and veins under the skin of your face and hand and matches them to a stored image.