Food gadgets: the useful or the useless

comments on the weird and wonderful technology that awaits us in 2015

Image: Harriet Cheshire

Image: Harriet Cheshire

This year sees a rise in popularity of new gadgets designed to make eating food easier. As we become more tech-savvy, we look for increasingly novel ways of saving time and energy.

Although there may be a line to draw between beneficial technology and when it’s simply unnecessary, it’s up to us to decide just how much influence gadgets should have on our food habits.

This year, new eye scanning technology could provide a solution for those indecisive individuals who are notoriously slow at choosing a dish off a menu. This technology is currently being trialled on Pizza Hut’s ‘Subconscious Menu’: it can determine which item our eyes rest on for the longest period of time, taking advantage of a human survival mechanism in which we seek out the food highest in nutritional benefits. Of course, our minds may argue against the instinct that pushes us towards the more wholesome and fulfilling options. However, if sharing a pizza, this method of choosing could prove potentially problematic.

Another food-lover’s grievance is the issue of the expanding waistline, pushing uncomfortably against our belts as we eat. Although the sensible solution is to simply wear more accommodating clothes, there is now a belt on the market which will expand as the gut does. The product ‘Belty’, from the french company Emiota, works with the waistline to grant extra comfort in over-eating. A benefit, or a curse?

For all bakers, getting measurements right is often a difficult task. The new app, ‘Perfect Bake’, removes all possible human fallibility from a recipe. Sold with a ‘smart scale’ in synchronisation with the app, all you have to do is ‘pour’ when told to pour, and ‘mix’ when told to mix, measurement-free. All weights, temperatures, and yield scaling are performed by the computer, ensuring accuracy. Once guided through the process, all that remains for the baker is to slide the tray into the oven – presuming they’ve realised it’s their job to turn it on.

Can’t survive the morning without a cup of coffee? Completely reliant on the skills of Costa and Starbucks? The British-born ‘Smarter Coffee machine’ syncs with phones to provide what is essentially a loving parent’s morning wake-up call. Not only will it brew your drink at a specified time, sounding an alarm in the process to wake you up, but it can also have coffee brewed for when you arrive home. This is technology at its most reverent, fulfilling our needs and granting us that little extra time in bed.

In terms of improving our diets and overall health, new gadgets such as the ‘Smart Diet Scale’ could provide effective tools to help control calorie consumption. Users can place up to four items of food on the scale at once and have the full nutritional content of the meal sent to their phone. Although this could encourage obsessive calorie control, in theory, once the user has a general idea of what makes a portion a portion, the scale may not been needed.

Overall, it’s clear that in many respects technology can offer us nifty methods to make our lives easier, but there’s no doubt that such ease may only make us lazier. On the other hand, some gadgets could certainly help us to improve our overall wellbeing.