The Rise of Synthetic Food
As the world gets more populated, and in turn our natural resources and our climate are stretched to the limit, how and what we eat will change as the year rolls on. The world needs to think of ways to feed itself, and the answer might be mixed into synthetic food.
Solyent is a high-profile example. While the nutritional powder has been around for just about two years, in 2016 it gained momentum. Soylent has all the nutrients the average person needs, but there’s one big problem: it’s kind of unappetizing.
The world needs to think of ways to feed itself.
That’s something scientists are working on. One possibility is Beyond Meat, a company that started to demo its pea protein, yeast extract, beet juice, and coconut oil burger-like substance late last year to the press; it’s available in select Whole Foods supermarkets right now. Another company, Impossible Foods, is working towards a similar goal — and you can grab its plant-based burger from New York City restaurant Momofoku Nishi for $13. Sure, you can tell it’s not the real thing, but both burgers have gotten surprisingly good reviews.
Others are working on growing foods, like eggs and meat, in laboratory environments. Consumers are increasingly pushing for more cruelty-free and environmentally friendly foods, and lab-grown food addresses that problem.
One thing is for certain: by the end of the New Year, your veggie burger should make its way out of the vegetarian aisle at the supermarket. Hopefully other synthetic foods will crop up too, answering the ever bigger problem of feeding the world, helping us eat healthier — and letting us enjoy guilt-free comfort food.
The Physical and Digital World Blur
Virtual reality was a big hit in 2016. But you can’t walk around the real world with a headset on. The dramatic rise and equally precipitous fall of Google Glass sites that walking around with space age glasses won’t work either.
Look for navigation services to get even more specific — maps in a store’s app, for example, to direct you to a specific aisle to find exactly what you’re looking for. So called “augmented reality,” where virtual objects and information are displayed on top of the physical world, will make its way to our phones. Search engines are already expanding on image search, allowing you to point your camera at something and search for information based on what the lens takes in.
And as Pokémon Go showed us in 2016, there’s a huge appetite for well-designed augmented reality games. While we can’t predict what game will get kids off the couch this coming summer, it wouldn’t be surprising if it comes in the mold of Pokémon Go.
3D Printing For All
Consumer-grade 3D printers have been around for close to a half decade, yet prices are well above the level that most of us can afford. That should change this year, given what we’ve already seen.
A decent 3D printer can now be found for $200-300; less than half of what they cost just a year ago. These prices should drop further, and new models will launch — like the $99 101Hero and the $149 PocketMaker 3D — that will drive costs down even further.
It isn’t too far-fetched to think that by the time the 2017 holiday season rolls around, 3D printers will be the must-have gift. With 3D printers accessible to anyone, the way we accumulate things will change. Who needs to buy it anymore when you can just print it?
These are just the highlights of what we think will be hot in the New Year. Do you think we’ve missed something? Discuss it below in the comments. What do you think will be the hot tech trend in 2017?