You may have some go-to techniques for whipping up a meal, but have you considered adding some maker innovation to your routine? For inspiration, check out these over the top food-centric inventions.
BBQ Smoker… for Science
GE brought a 12-foot-tall smoker — built by our friends at Sheet Metal Alchemist in Oakland, California — to their Science of Barbecue Experience at SXSW 2015. While a local pitmaster took care of the meat, GE tricked out the inside of the smoker with sensors. Thermocouplers at the top, middle, and bottom of the stack report the temperature of the smoker, while two more monitor the meat itself. Humidity and velocity sensors in the smoke stack help measure the smoke’s characteristics.
So what do you do with such refined sensors? Experiments! The pitmaster and pit chemist were able to precisely maintain variables to research which techniques made the best brisket.
Bistrobot, Make Me a Sandwich
This sandwich-making robot takes large-scale, conveyor belt-style food processing and tailors it for made-to-order lunches. After you customize your request, the machine sends your bread down a conveyor belt to get squirted with toppings, toasted, and neatly closed within a little box. Currently there’s only one Bistrobot in the wild (at Andi’s Market in San Francisco). It’s worth a few bucks just to see the machine work its magic, though you’d be hard pressed to convince us to eat a sandwich with “the works,” which currently would be a messy peanut butter with blackberry and strawberry jams, apple butter, Nutella, cinnamon, and chai powder.
Breakfast Goes BOOM
Cereal became the most ubiquitous breakfast staple of the American diet thanks to the puffing gun. Grains are loaded into the chamber of these cannon-like pressure cookers and rotated over heat until the pressure reaches 100psi, at which point the lid is literally hammered open and everything inside explodes outward.
Like popcorn, the pressure is too high to allow the boiling moisture inside the grains to escape until the gun is opened and the moisture releases all at once, puffing the grain. The Museum of Food and Drink in New York recently had a 3,200lb puffing gun built and mounted on a trailer for an exhibition on cereal. It is, after all, an important piece of culinary history. Plus, the big boom it makes sure can draw a crowd.
Green Thumbs Need Not Apply
While lots of innovation happens in the kitchen, there’s opportunity for growth in garden technology, too. One of the coolest backyard setups we’ve seen is FarmBot’s Genesis, an app-controlled, planter-mounted x, y, and z plotter that can plant seeds and water them. It even has self-changing tool heads for checking the soil’s moisture level and detecting and removing unwanted weeds. Reminiscent of desktop CNC machines familiar to many makers, the creators hope their open source system will facilitate iterative designs from the community.