Brave New World

We’re delighted that the timing worked out so that we can bring you the National Restaurant Association 2013 Kitchen Innovations in this at-show issue. The KIs are among my favorite topics to cover. I had a great conversation with program consultant Alan Plassche and our feature intro on page 58 talks about how KIs through the years have in turn inspired foodservice operators in everything from new concept development to energy conservation.

The timing of the KI announcements coincides in an odd and wonderful way with two other “innovation” exposures I’ve had in the last month—they’re related to each other, and I wanted to share them.

My son John, 12, called me over one evening to take a look at a couple of YouTube videos he’d found. The first was on 3D printing and he and I watched as a reporter visits Z Corp., (now owned by 3D Systems, Rock Hill, S.C.), to see what this incredible technology is all about (I really encourage you to click the link or search Z Corp. 3D printing on YouTube).

If you’re unfamiliar with 3D printing, as I was, it’s mind blowing. You watch as a printer creates complete, usable replicas of objects, moving parts and all. In this case, the “ink” is any combination of various plastic resins.

Then John pulled up another video featuring Dr. Lawrence Bonassar from Cornell University. He and his team are using 3D printing to create human body parts and the “ink” in this case includes living cells ( Cornell’s first foray is human cartilage—an ear actually—but I’d make a bet hearts and kidneys are in the pipeline somewhere. Unbelievable; doctors are printing living tissue!

My first encounter with 3D printing was followed with a second one just a week later at the FEDA Annual Convention in San Antonio. World-renowned entrepreneur Dr. Peter Diamandis was FEDA’s keynoter and shared with us all kinds of reasons to look forward to the future, including extraordinary innovations. Not only did he mention 3D printing (turns out you can add metal “ink” to the list; will we be printing foodservice equipment?), but he turns us on to the brilliance of crowd sourcing, Google’s self-driving car, an invention that turns any water into drinking water, supercomputers and more. It was an incredible presentation and I actually found a link to a shorter version Diamandis delivered at the TED (Ideas Worth Spreading) 2012 conference ( Take a few minutes to hear him talk about what’s coming.

This stuff just makes me happy and optimistic. We live in a world of wonder, and I can’t even imagine what’s ahead for our children!


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