In order to bring our cooking technologies to the digital age, MIT researchers have developed three concept designs: The Virtuoso Mixer, The Robotic Chef and The Digital Fabricator. The Digital Gastronomy machines attempt to use the most advanced food technologies and techniques to retain the freshness of ingredients, increase the potential for personal creative expression and develop a new and tighter connection between food production and our digital lives.
Each one addresses a fundamental process that lies at the heart of cooking, namely the mixing of ingredients; the physical and chemical transformation of these ingredients into new compounds; and finally their modeling into aesthetically pleasing and delectable textures and shapes. Our hope is that these designs will provide a glimpse at the new aesthetic and cultural possibilities, which can be brought forth by a new, digital gastronomy.
The Digital Fabricator is a personal, three-dimensional printer for food, which works by storing, precisely mixing, depositing and cooking layers of ingredients. Its cooking process starts with an array of food canisters, which refrigerate and store a user’s favorite ingredients. These are piped into a mixer and extruder head that can accurately deposit elaborate food combinations with sub-millimeter precision. While the deposition takes place, the food is heated or cooled by the Fabricator’s chamber or the heating and cooling tubes located on the printing head. This fabrication process not only allows for the creation of flavors and textures that would be completely unimaginable through other cooking techniques, but, through a touch-screen interface and web connectivity, also allows users to have ultimate control over the origin, quality, nutritional value and taste of every meal.
The Robotic Chef is a mechanical arm designed to physically and chemically transform a single solid food object, such as a steak, fish or a fruit. It allows for two types of transformations: localized and precise manipulations performed with an array of tools located in the toolhead; and global transformations performed through the underlying bed and two 5-degree of freedom robotic arms
The Virtuoso Mixer is a machine composed of a three-layer rotating carousel that provides cooks with an efficient way to mix multiple ingredient variations and experiment with subtle differences in taste and composition. At the top layer, we find eight containers that can be filled with off-the-shelf ingredients and are outfitted with weight scales, as well as temperature and humidity sensors for monitoring the properties and quantity of food they contain. The middle layer houses eight mixing containers with several types of crushing and mixing devices. The final, lower layer, functions as an extrusion tray where the final ingredient mixture is deposited. It is outfitted with an array of thermoelectric heating and cooling elements and an insulating glass cover for quickly baking and modifying the temperature of the produced mixtures.