Open Meals is teleporting 3D-printed sushi to the ends of the earth

In Star Trek, food magically appeared via miraculous “food replicators.” In Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan, our anti-hero Spider Jerusalem used a “maker” to generate everything from home-cooked meals to body armor. Now comes a futuristic platform from Japan that can already transmit and generate pixelated made-to-order sushi.

The company is called Open Meals, which demonstrated its concept at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, showcasing the generating technology and 3D printer that can make what it calls “8-bit sushi.” While it may sound like something of a gimmick, the platform’s creators have ambitious plans for a concept that could mark radical changes in how food is created and delivered.

The basic concept of 3D-printed food isn’t so novel — a variety of creators are working in the space to make faux meat, ice cream, and even fruit. However, Open Meals is employing some unique technology that allows it to customize food down to mere millimeters. Where most food printers produce layers of pureed ingredients, Open Meals uses a water-based creation system that adds flavors, nutrients, and colors as the “cube” is assembled.

The creative side for wannabe chefs comes in the company’s “Food Base,” a digital storage and delivery platform that keeps granular information on different types of foods including taste, texture, color, shape, and ingredients. Open Meals envisions even more applications for the Food Base, such as re-creating traditional or cultural recipes or having celebrity chefs create custom recipes that could then be sold as additional content for a user’s home Food Base.

open meals 3d printed sushi foodbase

The other component is the “Pixel Food Printer,” a complex food creation platform that uses digital technology, a robotic arm, and a series of cartridges that inject flavor, color, nutrition and gelatinizing agents into the sushi or other foods. According to the company’s website, the printer can effectively make simple reproductions of just about any food, but also encourages users to “design and create any dishes desired to greatly expand the possibilities for food.”

At SXSW, the company made good on its promise by creating high-end sushi that was designed in Japan and printing it on the spot in Austin. Futurists are very keen on the idea, which could have long-ranging repercussions on the way humans consume food. Because the injected gels can be customized, they could potentially be used to deliver vital nutrients to the elderly, the ill, or professional athletes. Open Meals believes they could beam measurements and dimensions directly to remote outposts like the International Space Station, where astronauts could potentially print out a “home-cooked” meal.

Because the sushi is currently printing in five-millimeter blocks, the result is a bit old-school, resembling tasty tidbits that wouldn’t be out of place in a video game. However, Open Meals believes it can eventually reach sizes of one millimeter or less, resulting in better-looking and more malleable designs.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Product Review

Putting on the grits with the Instant Pot pressure cooker

If you want to dip your toe into the low-temperature waters of sous vide, the Anova precision cooker is a good way to start. It has a robust app and an easy-to-use interface that just may convert you to a whole new way of cooking.
Smart Home

These accessories take your already awesome Instant Pot to a whole new level

If you're familiar with the Instant Pot, you know that this bad boy acts as a pressure cooker, rice cooker, cake maker, egg boiler, and a lot more. Here are some must-have accessories to make Instant Pot cooking even better.
Smart Home

Amazon shows off compact cashier-free store that could show up at airports

Amazon is testing its smallest Amazon Go store to date as it considers taking the grab-and-go technology to new venues such as airports and train stations. The compact store is a quarter the size of its current locations.
Smart Home

Amazon sent me a Christmas tree. Did it leave me pining for more?

Is driving to a Christmas tree lot or farm to get some fresh pine a daunting task that you dread every year? Good news: Amazon is now selling real Christmas trees with free shipping. We decided to order one to see how it went.
Smart Home

Cops go after porch pirates with dummy Amazon boxes and GPS trackers

Amazon is helping police in Jersey City to catch thieves who steal delivered packages from outside people's homes. Within just minutes of the operation's launch this week, cops nabbed their first porch pirate.
Smart Home

A couple’s recalled dishwasher caught on fire — and now they’re warning others

A Wisconsin couple has been using the dishwasher in their house for a year, unaware that it was recalled in 2009. Then the appliance caught fire. Now they are warning others to check appliances for risks when buying or renting a home.
Smart Home

Amazon has some killer deals on vacuums through the holidays

Whether you're buying for someone else or for yourself, Amazon has some great deals on vacuums running through the holidays. Score them while you can and keep your home cleaner than ever.
Smart Home

Got an Emerson thermostat? 135,000 of them are being recalled due to fire risk

Most recalls are relatively benign but if you own an Emerson-branded thermostat, we encourage you to check your model number because the company has alerted consumers to the potential of the device starting a fire.
Deals

You don't want to sleep on these red-hot bedding deals

We've rounded up some of the best discounts and sales happening right now, so you can buy yourself (or your loved ones) new bedding without breaking your budget. Trust us when we say these are deals worth losing sleep over.
Deals

Best deals for smart home plugs that control your lights and appliances

Smart hubs and speakers play central communication and management roles in your home, but smart plugs let you add lights and appliances to your system. Any smart plug you buy must support one feature or anything you plug in stays dumb.
Mobile

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.