What if your food were as rich in information as it is in nutrients? That’s the vision of an art student who recently demonstrated online a prototype of a system where an edible chip embedded in your lunch communicates its nutritional information, provenance, travel miles, and so on to your phone via a reader in the plate. With this system, people could check ingredient lists for allergens, tally up the carbon footprint of their meal, or figure out whether they’ll still have calories left for dessert.
Sound fanciful? Perhaps. But such radio-frequency identification chips, which are best known for use in automatic toll-paying devices and some credit cards, can be found in all sorts of unlikely places today, from hotel towels to casino chips to people. And there is in fact an edible version— Kodak patented it in 2007. The day when cupcakes reveal their secrets to your phone might not be as far off as you think.