The Jetsons was a futuristic world in the 1980s that seemed ridiculous.
Although the idea of flying cars, machines to walk dogs and the ability to have dinner in outer space is still as bizarre today as it was then, the idea of food that can be made anytime and anywhere, just through a machine, is actually closer than many think.
The ‘Foodini’ machine allows users to create food through 3D printing without needing to prepare the food themselves. At the moment the machine does not actually cook the food, but instead just prepares it for the user to cook it later. However, the inventors, Barcelona startup Natural Machines, claim that they are going to have a model that can cook the food too.
They are not the first company to provide this kind of device though and even MIT and Cornell have been working on similar devices for the last few years.
There have been demonstrations of similar devices too, with Mondelez International using SXSW as a platform to create 3D printed Oreo cookies. The designs and flavours of these were based on tweets sent through under the hashtag #eatthetweet which included flavours such as mint, banana and birthday cake.
CES in Las Vegas last month also showcased some of the biggest innovations from companies within this space, one of them being 3D Systems, who arguably have the most advanced commercially available systems. These allowed people to create chocolate shapes that would normally be impossible to make by hand.
3D Systems are the most advanced company within this space as their founder, Chuck Hall invented the Stereolithography additive manufacturing process, the process on which 3D printing is formed. This process and the patents around it meant that 3D Systems and Stratasys (another 3D printing company) had little competition. This has changed recently as the patents on many of the aspects of the process have opened the door to allow many other companies to experiment with the process.
These kind of food creation systems have many people wondering about the health aspect, as having something made in this way seems unnatural and many would think that it was full of chemicals. The truth, as Natural Machines claim, is that the ingredients are actually fresh and healthy. In fact most of the ingredients used have a 5 day use by limit.
They claim they are even working with NASA to create 3D printers that can work in space to help feed astronauts.
Although this may not yet be at the same level as the Jetsons, it is the first steps in creating the systems that will allow the general public to have access to this kind of technology.