Food-Tech – The Future of Food With Growing Technology

In Artificial Intelligence, Columns, Technology

A line from a British show by the name of ‘Utopia’ once said that our planet wasn’t meant to house a population of 7 billion humans. Personally, I agree with that line. There are too many people taking up too little space and resources, and now we’re facing the problems associated with that.

In an age of overpopulation and food shortage, we need to try to look for solutions to these problems which could spell trouble for a number of people on the earth. Also, eating healthy has become a serious priority for a lot of people. Here, we will focus primarily on the field of IoT and its contributions to how we eat and what changes we’ve made which are directly caused by the growing usage of IoT through the multiple phases of a food product’s life:

Agricultural phase: Food’s ‘infancy stage’

With the global population expected to reach over 8 billion by 2020, our food production would have to go up considerably. More farms is not a solution due to the lack of space, so we’ll have to improve efficiency and productive output. Here, IoT comes in. Now we can use sensors to check soil quality, weather conditions, the right watering patterns, and a variety of other things that are important for growing food properly. Furthermore, the collected information can be used to find the best conditions to grow particular crops to maximize yield. Using these technologies, farmers can also prevent wastage. This type of farming is popularly being called precision farming.

Processing, packaging and storage phase: Food’s ‘childhood and teenage years’

The safe transportation and packaging of food are the most critical points of food production. This is what predominantly determines how much food gets damaged or wasted, similar to having a bad childhood for kids.

Sensors are used to keep a check on temperature sensitive foods so that they don’t get ruined and their shelf life remains the same as is mentioned (usually on the packaging for packaged goods). Sensors can also be employed to track the weight of food in different stages and this helps to keep a check on any food being eaten away by pests.

For restaurants, weight sensors can also be used to understand when they need to order more food to keep in their pantries, this will ensure availability of food products at all times. This can also be used by warehouses and supermarkets on their shelves and this data can be collected to forecast shortages.

Cooking and serving phase: Food’s ‘adulthood’

Not a lot can go wrong while cooking unless the people cooking the food don’t know what they’re doing, similar to adulthood. Now we can use IoT to control our stoves and other devices which also save energy, this makes IoT extremely useful for the environment too. There are also smart scales which help us get the exact weight and calorie content in the food we eat which also helps us improve the quality of our dish since we get to know the exact weight of the ingredients we’re adding.

After cooking, we should store the leftover food to prevent wastage. There are smart refrigerators for that which alert you when there’s a leak or when your food has started to go bad.

Eating phase: Food’s ‘death and burial’

There are apps that track eating habits like the number of bites a person takes, and the total intake of calories and the nutrient content in what you eat. These apps often help people reach their target weight, and they often generate a diet plan for you to achieve that elusive goal.

First we eat, then we do everything else.

The article is authored by Nishant Nijhawan, Intern, Nishant is a student of computer engineering at Delhi Technical University who believes in optimal usage of technology.)

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