This month's FutureFood 2050 series explores how increasingly sophisticated science and technology will help consumers plan and shop for meals, monitor special dietary needs, and even produce customized food products at the touch of a 3-D printer button.
FutureFood 2050 is an initiative supported by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) that addresses how to feed the world's expected population of 9+ billion by 2050.One of this month's articles highlights the work of Thomas Johansson, Design Director for Sweden-based Electrolux, where "smart" kitchen appliances are already in the works. Johansson predicts that hyperconnection will define our relationship with the kitchen by the year 2050. Better data, he says, will be delivered by smart apps using increasingly sophisticated learning algorithms.
By the year 2050 Johansson believes the kitchen may no longer even be a kitchen as we know it. The fridge, for example, could be a series of a dozen hexagonal-shaped storage spaces set into a living room wall. Each container would use a vacuum system to extend the life of the food inside. The modules would set their own internal temperatures and humidity based on the types of foods they hold. In addition, a "smart" pantry would maintain a log of its contents while cameras would scan packages on the shelves so the pantry could consult with the refrigerator on recipes that require baking ingredients like flour or sugar. Meanwhile, a smart oven set into the wall next to the refrigerator modules might be able to detect the humidity and internal temperature of the food it cooks.
Johansson says the ultimate goal for the next generation of kitchen technologies is individual health and well-being. Linking kitchen appliances to personal devices that monitor blood sugar levels, dietary habits, and prescription or other medicines would enable the appliances to use this information in evaluating the family's food needs. This would require "smart" machines linked to larger systems via the Internet and internal information "clouds" that could make some decisions on their own.