In the last couple of weeks, we've seen several science-fiction technologies become science-fact, or at least, start to become science-fact.
In one of these articles, I postulated that a Star Trekian food replicator would also be an incredible piece of technology to behold. It seems my dreams have been answered, because that's what Nestlé are developing. Kind of.
Apparently, Nestlé's Institute of Health Sciences has conducted a program which they have, for some reason, dubbed the 'Iron Man'. It aims to study the effects of nutrients on the brain and body, in particular how certain bio-markers can indicate the onset of obesity or illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This seems like a noble cause, but one wonders if Nestlé's Institute of Heath Sciences is the same body which advocated aggressively selling milk formula to developing countries in order to stop mothers breastfeeding. A move which was internationally condemned and has been claimed to have led to the deaths of countless children. Who knows?
Anyway, the idea is that a piece of technology will scan your 'nutrient' profile and dictate what nutrients your diet is lacking. Then, using synthesized proteins and other techno-wizardry, the machine will create the food you are lacking. Nestlé's Institute of Health Sciences director Ed Baetge stated:
In the past, food was just food. We’re going in a new direction.
Currently, the idea - like that of the warp drive and holographic communicator - is only in the research phase, with Nestlé hypothesizing that it could 10-15 years to become a reality. However, they claim that once it's been perfected the products will be more effective than vitamins because of their 'customized approach'. Of course, as GiantFreakinRobot points out, recent studies have shown that supplementary vitamins actually have very little impact on overall health. Something Nestlé wouldn't be eager to endorse considering they make all these vitamin and mineral supplements.
Indeed, at the end of the day it seems like the potential to make money is at the forefront of the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences' collective minds, with Baetge going on to state that the concept could result in "business propositions that today we cannot imagine." He continued:
Out comes your food at the press of a button. If we do this right, it can be the next microwave in your kitchen.
Call me old fashioned, but until I can order 'Earl Grey, Hot' without even needing to push a button, I might stick with the more traditional foodstuffs.
What do you think? Great idea or waste of time and resources?
Does this sound like a good idea to you?