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June 1, 2017 AT 5:30 pm

Pop-up, Shape-Shifting Food: Just add water.

via Kurzweil.net

Researchers at MIT’s Tangible Media Group are exploring ways to make your dining experience interactive and fun, with food that can transform its shape by just adding water.

Think of it as edible origami or culinary performance art — flat sheets of gelatin and starch that instantly sprout into three-dimensional structures, such as macaroni and rotini, or the shape of a flower.

But the researchers suggest it’s also a practical way to reduce food-shipping costs. Edible films could be stacked together, IKEA-style, and shipped to consumers, then morph into their final shape later when immersed in water.

“We did some simple calculations, such as for macaroni pasta, and even if you pack it perfectly, you still will end up with 67 percent of the volume as air,” says Wen Wang, a co-author on the paper and a former graduate student and research scientist in MIT’s Media Lab. “We thought maybe in the future our shape-changing food could be packed flat and save space.”

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