Technology is taking over many areas of 21st century life: our educational experiences, our financial businesses and purchases, and our connection with friends and family on an international scale showcase that we have progressed so far from humanity’s position one hundred years ago. But what about the future of one of the most common actions of our human daily life? We can expect a lot of development in the next few decades in this field: from ordering to staff to food preparation, your restaurant experience is about to get a lot more high-tech.
Automated Waitstaff: Do You Have to Leave a Tip for a Robot?
Many restaurants post their menus on their websites as a marketing tool – but can we imagine a more technological method of ordering our meals? Today, the typical late-night pizza or take-out order can be completed online, and many prefer to build their at-home delivery orders in an internet browser without having to call anyone or speak to an employee. Imagine taking this to the next level, pre-ordering a meal that would be ready-to-eat by the time you enter the restaurant and sit down. One could use a smartphone or other technological device, not necessarily a computer, in order to secure an order ahead of time.
Or even more odd, imagine a restaurant experience where your waiters are not humans, but highly-functional robots that send your orders to the kitchen. Already, this idea is imaginable in some futuristic restaurants where high-tech devices, or even simple iPhone apps, are used to record orders and send complex requests to the kitchen. This technology can be embedded in social media platforms and can add an additional layer of marketing to this restaurant environment.
Technological Test Kitchens: Cooking on Auto-Pilot
Can you imagine a kitchen that requires no human labor? An order would be sent automatically from a robo-waiter to the kitchen, which through complex, multi-step Rube Goldberg machines or through other flexible cooking mechanisms puts together a meal methodologically. Ingredients are never estimated, but measured precisely, portions are balanced, and mistakes are impossible to be generated by the high-tech programming. Each dish leaves the kitchen in a state of aesthetic, calculated perfection.
Food Printers: Incredible Instant food capabilities
Restaurant equipment today allows for many endless possibilities for culinary creativity, but we can expect really large developments on our horizon from the industry of 3D printing. Creative chefs with a penchant for technology have begun to design entire menus that take edible materials and print them into complex and highly ornamented edible treats, customized to order and in forms and shapes that are unnatural and exotic. Futuristic restaurants – surely at a high price – will begin to adopt this technology as soon as 3D printing becomes more common in a household context, especially since many “foodies” enjoy novelty foods and exotic edible experiences.
Though these ideas are fascinating and exciting, it is difficult to imagine that someday the humanity of the restaurant experience will be completely removed and replaced by automated technological processes. For thousands of years, the process of cooking special, traditional, and meaningful meals has helped to bond families and friends, strengthen cultural identity and personal relationships, and to serve as a fruitful expression of one’s self in an edible way. Surely technological dining experiences might be fun, but one can predict that the technology will never replace the inherent human nature of the act of preparing food for others to enjoy.