The Internet of Food: How tech will shape our food futures

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Say hello to the 'internet of food’. A new buzz term used to describe the interconnectedness of physical objects that collect and exchange data about food preparation, consumption and exercise.

Millennials believe that technology should play an important role in helping them make healthy food choices. A recent study by JWT Intelligence Group on food and drink trends, reported that 77% of US & UK millennials would like technology to offer more assistance in planning and cooking healthy meals. More than half, already use technology (apps, wearables etc) to help maintain a proper diet. Lucie Greene, Worldwide Director of the Innovation Group said: “We also found that millennials, despite their well-documented economic challenges, are demanding high-quality food, visual stimulation and technologically enhanced experiences.”


Im2Calories from Google aims to count calories for you

Wearable technology companies are racing to develop a product – set to be the first of its kind - that focuses on tracking calories-in rather than calories-out. Wearable Tech World counts over ten separate initiatives to develop calorie-intake measurement technology.

A major advancement in this field came recently, when Google added nutritional data to some chain restaurant’s search results. It is now concentrating its artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities on the calories-in problem and announced the app Im2Calories in June. The app uses AI to work out the calorie content of any given food. Users will take a photo and “sophisticated deep-learning algorithms” will do the counting. The project is still in its teething phase, but at its launch Google researcher Kevin Murphy was optimistic about the possibilities: “If it only works 30 percent of the time, it’s enough that people will start using it. We’ll collect data, and it’ll get better.”

140 million users logged 1 billion workouts and more than 5 billion foods in 2015

Streamlining data sources is also key to advancements in tracking calorie consumption. When fitness brand Under Armour acquired food-tracking app MyFitnessPal and fitness app Endomondo it made data from each platform accessible to the other within a single app. Company figures show that this represents a community of 140 million users who have logged 1 billion workouts and more than 5 billion foods in 2015.


GoBe wristband by Healbe, 2015

Likewise, Weight Watchers have linked their app with wearable devices from Fitbit and Jawbone. Exercise through these products can now be converted into Weight Watchers points, allowing users to be intuitive with thier own data.

Innovators are also looking to augment our cooking experiences with clever screens and connected objects in the kitchen. Ikea’s recent ‘Table for Living’ looked like an ordinary table, but acted like a screen as recipes and step-by-step instructions were projected from above. Induction coils for cooking were hidden beneath the table top.


Concept Kitchen 2025 by Ikea

Meanwhile, Whirlpool’s Interactive Kitchen of the Future 2.0 boasts an interactive cooktop, on which users can update social media, check emails and choose music on whilst they cook. It is also voice-controlled, meaning temperatures can be set while chopping vegetables, and its fully connected to the rest of the kitchen, so it can suggest recipes based on what is in the refrigerator.

Augmented food intake, exercise and cooking experiences are set to make the internet of food a very real presence in our daily lives over the coming years. It’s time to say goodbye to labour-intensive calorie counting and hello to all our fitness goals!

The full report is available for purchase here after the jump

Food + Drink: Trends and futures from J. Walter Thompson Intelligence

The 93-page report includes:

  • A survey of 1,000 US and UK consumers from SONAR™, J. Walter Thompson’s research unit 10 pages of infographics revealing surprising shifts in consumer attitudes toward food and drink
  • Analysis of the key factors driving shifting conceptions of food and drink
  • 18 key trends in the food and drink sectors reflecting changing consumer mindsets
  • Five in-depth case studies of innovators already responding to these shifts in dining and hospitality


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