Nestle foods is trying to make a real-life, Star Trek-style food replicator

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Jun 24, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT (Updated)

What better way to make sure we’re all perfectly healthy, be it on a starship or right here on Earth, than to create a machine that figures out exactly what we need, then let it make the food to fill it. Welcome to the future.

Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) has kicked off research and development on project “Iron Man,” which will investigate how essential nutrients affect the body, brain and gastrointestinal functions. They’ve already added 100 new scientists for the initiative. The goal? To develop a device to scan our nutrient needs, then design food around those needs, not unlike the replicators/previous models for food production featured in the various Star Trek series.

In an interview with Bloomberg, NIHS director Ed Baetge said these proposed foods would be more effective at treating vitamin and nutrient deficiency than the supplements we currently use. According to Baetge, the goal would be for these devices to pop up in kitchens across the world over the next few decades, eventually becoming as ubiquitous as all our other creature comforts:

“Out comes your food at the press of a button. If we do this right, it can be the next microwave in your kitchen.”

This is a fascinating concept, and the applications are positively endless. Not only could this thing be a huge boon to health right here at home — with people finally having the access and knowledge to consume the exact items needed for optimal health -- but, looking toward the future, you could pop one of these devices on a future Enterprise and keep your space explorers nice and healthy as they explore the stars.

But the big questions — can it make a good cup of Earl Grey tea? How’s the ice cream? Can I get a martini?

(Via The Verge, Bloomberg)