Gunter Blank goes out to eat: Internet of the body

The anecdote of the intelligent refrigerator that refuses to open the door to night-time visitors overwhelmed by cravings because their BMI or cholesterol levels are too high is a bit trite, and brings the fears associated with the digitization and networking of everyday life , but still pretty straight to the point. Because Industry 4.0, which couples the Internet of Things with the most diverse aspects of life of the individual, is producing developments at a breathtaking pace that have long since affected our diet.

The “Internet of the Body” postulated by the RAND think tank is no longer only of interest to the health care system and insurance companies, but also to the food industry. The refrigerator is just the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, not all revolutionary innovations are incapacitating. On the contrary, some can help us not only to eat more healthily, but also to make better use of the global resources.

The science journalists Olaf Deininger and Hendrik Haase have presented an overview volume on this complex. “Food Code. How we keep control over our food in the digital world ”shows the developments that will determine our eating habits in the near future. The spectrum of topics ranges from the Alexa echo skill “Beer before four” to food porn and Buycott apps, which use barcodes to expose environmental offenders, to killer bots that hunt nudibranchs in lettuce fields in order to target them with a targeted prick of their thorn to render harmless.

The chips from start-ups such as Viome or my.microbes, which are used invasively, work more gently, but less for thought manipulation than for analyzing the intestinal fora in order to provide the chronically ill with appropriate nutrition plans. The company DNA-Nudge is aiming in a similar direction – but the lifestyle DNA analyzes with which it draws up an individually configured shopping plan on a genome basis sound more like a clever method of giving customers the money out of their pockets in addition to their data draw.

Shutting down supermarkets and buying the products from producers is a thought worth thinking about

The rapid pace is certainly most noticeable in retail – just think of the adventurous offer from a delivery service to put ordered goods on the kitchen counter within ten minutes. The completely networked whole-food stores, which want to create a “third place” for slowing down and an informed exchange and which are now conquering the USA from San Francisco, are an alternative. In fact, you could call it the eco-green Xanadu, but the organic goods on sale there in a smooth, feel-good atmosphere are only affordable for a wealthy minority.

Alibaba owner Jack Ma was much smarter years ago without losing sight of the profits of his group. In his Hema stores, consumers can trace the products back to their place of origin and then either prepare them on site and deliver them to their homes or have them served by a robot in the connected Robot.He restaurant. Under the impression of the Covid pandemic, he linked this concept with his Taobao platform, on which small rural producers have been offering their goods since 2003. Now even smallholders who produce too little to be able to survive in the traditional markets can have their products delivered to the Hema stores and to customers far away via the Alibaba / Alipay network. Of course you can mock robotic waiters and denounce Alibaba as a data octopus – but switching off supermarkets and buying the products from the producer is a thought worth thinking about. Especially since there are already a few offers in Europe. The author’s mother, for example, now orders oranges only marginally more expensive from organic producers in Valencia.

SHAHID SAEED MIRZA AFP via Getty Images

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