Since 2010, researchers at MIT have been working on “Cornucopia” which may be the next digital innovation to revolutionise modern life. Put simply, “Cornucopia” is a digital gastronomy concept in which food packaging machines can be used in the same way as a printer. Taking inspiration from 3D printing technology, MIT aim to bring cooking technology into the digital age by digitalising fundamental cooking processes to create food machines that are capable of creating complete meals from scratch.
One concept is the Digital Fabricator: a 3D food printing machine which functions by mixing, depositing and cooking layers of ingredients to create meals. Ingredients may be heated, cooled or combined during assembly allowing a level of control which is not achievable through other current means of cooking. Similarly, an at home food machine like this one would allow the user to have complete control over every element of their meals including the origin, nutritional content and even symmetry of their meals.
The Virtuoso Mixer is another food machine concept designed to aid the mixing of ingredients. The layered, multiple chambered carousel can be loaded by the user with their chosen ingredients. Each chamber of the food machine may be adapted to suit the humidity and temperature requirements of each ingredient, meaning that the food machine itself can be stored anywhere regardless of the contents.
Utilising the same carousel concept as the Virtuoso Mixer, another proposed digital food machine is the Digital Chocolatier. Users may select or custom design a chocolate from pre-loaded ingredients, which are then automatically assembled according to the instructions given to the food machine. The molten chocolate piped through the machine is rapidly cooled upon contact with the assembly plate meaning that the chocolate is immediately ready for consumption following assembly.
All three proposed food machine concepts have the potential to change not only the way that we prepare our food, but also have the potential to facilitate experimentation with food in a completely different way.