Wednesday 18 July 2018

Our festive future: virtual hugs and 3D-printed food

Improvements in hydroponics technology, where vegetables can be grown in mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent, could enable people to grow Christmas dinner in their kitchen. Stock photo: Getty Images
Improvements in hydroponics technology, where vegetables can be grown in mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent, could enable people to grow Christmas dinner in their kitchen. Stock photo: Getty Images

Martyn Landi

It is the stuff of Christmas future: 3D-printed dinners and LED wallpaper displaying wintry scenes could be part of festive seasons to come.

A new report by Amazon presents a world where food could be shaped into festive symbols, while artificial intelligence creates gift lists based on social media likes, and you could be getting a virtual hug from a loved-one abroad.

The report also suggested other parts of Christmas celebrations, including tree decorations such as baubles, could also be 3D-printed.

Improvements in hydroponics technology, where vegetables can be grown in mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent, could enable people to grow Christmas dinner in their kitchen.

Futurist William Higham of consultancy Next Big Thing and food trend researcher Dr Morgaine Gaye were part of the research team that looked up to 20 years into the future.

"For many, an impressive feast is what makes Christmas," Dr Gaye said.

"Soon we will be adding even more of a homemade touch to our Christmas spreads, from using hydroponic technology to help us grow fruit and vegetables in our kitchens, no matter how small, to 3D printing helping us to create stunning edible artworks for dessert."

Mr Higham added that virtual and augmented reality could also be used to help families kept apart at Christmas to simulate being together.

"One innovation we can expect to see used over the festive period is augmented reality in the home," he said.

"Christmas is a time for family, and advanced technology could allow families who live miles apart to celebrate and interact together.

"The introduction of haptic clothing, which recreates the sense of touch through vibrations or motions, will allow us to feel closer to overseas relatives by giving them a 'haptic hug' on Christmas morning.

"Holographic imaging will be a way to project 3D versions of our friends and family into our living rooms so they can get 'virtually' involved in the festivities."

Irish Independent

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Editors Choice

Also in Life