Smart Hybrid Food and Experience Design

There are many associations and connotations related to the term "smart food". Our focus here addresses the following main issues:

First, it emphasizes the multi-sensory and cross-modal experience of food (and beverages) and how to design the food and its experience in the real world. Beyond the traditional approach of creating and preparing fantastic and stunning dishes that last in the sensory memory of people (e.g., guests in a restaurant or bar), the idea is to enhance and transform this basic experience by multimedia augmentation and/or by embedding it in an interactive ambient intelligent environment, including the room and its walls, the general furniture, the dining tables, etc..


Second, another aspect is that the food can be enabled in such a way that the experience is transformed to exist also in an additional local virtual/ digital world. In many cases, this provides the basics for the next step, i.e. to be able to communicate the food experience also to remote sites where distant people can participate and share the experience with the local people. Thus, the food experience will be a hybrid experience composed of real and virtual features. There are several open questions to the psychological and physiological implications of this type of experience design.


Third, generalizing the idea of moving beyond the place of the restaurant (as above), we extend the context of the experience to the neighbourhood of the restaurant/ bar/ café incorporating concepts like "third places" and public spaces as contributions to our efforts of moving beyond "smart-only" cities towards humane and sociablle cities where people can enjoy themselves and have comprehensive experiences. 

Fourth, there is another focus emphasizing the augmentation of products in general and food (and beverages) in particular in order to record and communicate information about the product ('product memory'). The food "knows" when and under which conditions it was planted, harvested, packaged, cooled, and transported to the market where it is sold. Besides having a self-description of its features incl. how to prepare and to eat it, it also has a memory of what happened to it from its origin all the way to its current situation, e.g., in the market. Very simple examples are: the fish "knows" if the cooling chain was continuous or if it was interrupted and can communicate to the potential buyer; the food can inform the potential buyer about potential allergies it can cause, the food can communicate if it was produced under fair conditions, etc.

There are many more aspects to it, which are currently under investigation, especially also on the combination of the currently separated issues described above.