These days, restaurant dishes can’t be customized too far beyond requests to hold the dressing or to cook the meat medium-rare.
But thanks to 3D printing technology, along with the proliferation of sensors tracking our activities and tastes, future meals — even mass-produced ones — could be tailored specifically to suit an individual’s dietary needs. A dish someone is served might even be calibrated to the calories she burned that day.
Jeffrey Lipton, a doctoral candidate at Cornell University’s Creative Machines Lab and chief technology officer of Seraph Robotics, argues that the emerging category of data-driven food is destined to make up a much larger part of our diet in the years to come.
Lipton predicts that cloud computing, 3D printing and the explosion in digitized personal data will together allow for the mass customization of meals, letting chefs instantly produce dishes that offer the recommended quantities of sugar, fat or sodium when given diners’ health records.
Instead of eating a quarter of a donut to cut calories, you instead might be able to buy a whole pastry from the corner deli, then watch the donut 3D printed before your eyes — with one-fourth the calories and just the right amount of fiber to bring you up to your daily minimum.
“Once you have the automatic collection of what you’re eating and when, you can predict — based off your activity levels, your planned diet and your health records — exactly how much and what types of food you should be eating. That’s really ultimately the long-term potential of food printing,” explained Lipton during a lecture at the Inside 3D Printing conference in New York City on Tuesday. “It’s going to be about this automated production of food where you have the entire cloud of information helping to guide you forward.”
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