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Carst and Walker
RFID for food

Edible technology to whet the appetite

RFID tags are already used to trace everything from poker chips to hotel towels, but what if these little pellets were embedded directly within your lunch, providing everything you’d ever wanna know about that ham sandwich you’re about to beast? That’s the idea behind NutriSmart — a food tracking system that revolves around edible RFID tags.

WHAT IF YOUR FOOD COULD TALK? A design engineering student at the Royal College of Art in London, Hannes Harms [who name sounds South African], has dared to ask that question — with a straight face. He envisions embedding food with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. “What if there were a way to embed data directly into food?” he asks in a video demonstrating the concept. [See video here]

Why would you want to put RFID tags in food? Harms sees a whole host of reasons; RFID-tagged food would in fact enable a whole new food system, which he terms “NutriSmart.” Bar codes on food packaging would become obsolete. The supply chain would be monitored, shopping would become automated, and smart refrigerators would be able to warn us when our food is about to spoil.

The NutriSmart concept also calls for a “smart plate”, which Harms describes as an “invisible diet management system.” Just put your meal on the plate and an embedded reader will analyze your grub, tell you how many miles it travelled before arriving at your kitchen and transmit all of its history, allergen risks and caloric data to your phone, via Bluetooth

When our food is ready to talk, our entire kitchen will need to listen. To that end, Harms envisions an array of smart appliances — an oven that knows just what temperature to heat to in order to bake that filet of salmon, for instance.

The whole thing, of course, sounds almost so outlandish as to be a prank. But edible RFID tags are already in use in some medicines. RFID tech keeps cropping up in unlikely places — poker tables, golf balls, toilets. A Honolulu hotel recently claimed to be saving $16,000 per month by catching departing guests who “accidentally” try to make off with RFID-embedded towels (hotels in Miami and Manhattan are joining in in the experiment.

Source: MIT Technology Review

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