Okay, they are two passions that likely worlds apart. But if you happen to love food and are an enthusiast for 3-D technology, there’s a project underway at MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group that you should make note of. The group, whose charter is to “radically rethink the human-machine interactive experience,” has just kicked off a project called Cornucopia, which lab researchers Marcelo Coelho and Amit Zoran bill as digital gastronomy.
Cornucopia is a concept design for a personal digital food factory. Essentially a 3-D printer for food, the idea is to store, precisely mix, deposit and cook layers of ingredients. The design for Cornucopia’s cooking process starts with an array of food canisters, which refrigerate and store your favorite ingredients. These ingredients are then piped into the printer’s mixer and extruder head with the precise combinations deposited based on the individual recipe. Cornucopia heats and cools the food via a chamber module or via print heads, which designers say will let users have ultimate control over the origin and quality of every meal, not to mention the taste and nutritional value.
There’s even more technology at work. When ingredients run out in Cornucopia’s canisters, the printer will automatically order a new one or suggest an equivalent ingredient. User controls are also high-tech. The design calls for a multitouch translucent screen, which will display the meal being assembled while allowing the user to adjust in real-time things like calories or carb content. Right now Cornucopia is just a project, but in time, it may just get cooking.
There is currently much discussion around the term "platform," which may be preceded by the adjectives "mobile," "wearable," "medical," "healthcare," etc. However, regardless of the platform being discussed, they usually have one key aspect in common: They tend to be wireless. So, why is this one aspect so fairly universal? The answer is convenience.
Everyone has a MEMS story. For most of us it’s probably the airbag that saved our lives or the life of a loved one. Perhaps it’s the tire pressure sensor that alerted us about deflation before we were stranded alone on a dark muddy road.
Bioimimicry is not merely a helpful design tool -- it also encourages designers to think not only about how to solve design problems by imitating nature, but how to make the products, materials, and systems they design more ecologically sound and nature-friendly.
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