In an era of handmade artisanal everything, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, held annually each January, is a refreshing reminder of the ever-increasing number of things that machines can do for you, without much, if any, effort on your part. This year's show is no different.
Why bother getting out of bed in the morning to make a fresh pot of coffee? Soon, you can start the percolation process while still snug under the covers, simply by using your smartphone. Smarter Coffee this week unveiled a wifi-connected coffee maker that even lets you adjust the cup output and strength of brew from the same comfy remote location. Lest you feel left out, tea drinkers, the company also produces an iKettle that operates much the same way.
Worried you don't have the required "green thumb" to raise fresh produce at home? Don't be. Another newfangled debut, the Edyn Garden Sensor, gathers and analyzes weather and soil data, then sends alerts and suggestions to your phone. So you know when to water your plants. The insatiable parsley and cilantro, especially, will thank you.
But, maybe the buzziest technological advancement at this year's show, the one most likely to nullify making anything from scratch in the future, is the expanding capablities of the 3-D printer. Two manufacturers announced food-themed printing machines this year. One, the CocoJet, a partnership between 3D Systems and the Hershey Company, is capable of making chocolates. (Watch the promotional video below.) During a demo, it reportedly produced a bonbon in about 15 minutes.
This is a pretty big step from simply printing out plastics, as the Wall Street Journal notes:
"The chemical composition of chocolate requires a quick cooling process to make sure you don’t end up with a deliciously messy chocolate puddle. The last thing you want is a chocolate jam in your printer."
A similar machine, rolled out by XYZprinting, showed how it can assemble ready-to-bake cookies and also decorate cakes.
As impressive as these strides toward full foodie automation might seem, it could be years before modern technology allows you to Xerox an entire meal. These high-tech printers still can't make a pizza. Not yet, anyway.
When that day finally arrives, mankind might finally answer the question: What's worse, a machine fouled up with gooey chocolate, or stringy mozzarella?
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