Could Cookies With Baked-in QR Codes Be the Answer to Label Waste?

Could Cookies With Baked-in QR Codes Be the Answer to Label Waste?

Researchers at Osaka University in Japan have developed a method of embedding a QR code inside of a cookie using 3D printing. You know, in case you’ve dreamed of having QR-capable snacks in your kitchen.

Why? Well, look, it’s a weird idea, but it could actually have a use. In the press release, it’s suggested that this could cut down on waste produced by labels, boxes and other commercial materials, by having the prices and nutrition information embedded within the food itself.

“Many foods can now be produced using 3D printers,” said Yamato Miyatake, the lead author of the study.

“We realised that the insides of edible objects such as cookies could be printed to contain patterns of empty spaces so that, when you shine a light from behind the cookie, a QR code becomes visible and can be read using a cellphone.”

qr code cookies
Image: Miyatake et al., ACM UIST 2022

The method is called “Interiqr”. It involves an edible tag within a cookie, which is produced via a 3D printer, that is unobtrusive and doesn’t take away from the experience. It doesn’t change the outer appearance of the food or the taste at all.

The Interiqr method achieves this by making the tag part of the cookie itself. A backlight on the cookie makes the code visible to anyone in the store, which can then be identified by a QR code reader on a phone.

“Our 3D printing method is a great example of the digital transformation of foods, which we hope will improve food traceability and safety,” added Kosuke Sato, a senior author of the study.

“This technology can also be used to provide novel food experiences through augmented reality, which is an exciting new field in the food industry.”

I love this idea and it’d be great to see it rolled out in stores to reduce the production of labels and unnecessary commercial materials. Of course, depending on the product, there are safety and hygiene concerns, but it’s unlikely to be a solution for every food.

Personally, I think it would be fun to eat a cookie with a QR code in it. Food tech rules.

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