Tongji University, China
In a society where companies use the SDGs as ideological factors, manifesto pillars, or general premise, the effective implementation of what can contribute to sustainable development often remains only a theoretical scenario. Intending to guarantee a real impact on today’s and future society, this project focuses, in particular, on how emerging technologies contribute to healthy and sustainable lifestyles, by proposing a design solution for the food sector that involves the macro-areas of sustainability, technology, and interaction design. The project offers a personalized food 3D printing service for school canteens (or similar space of collective and scheduled food consumption) that use AI to manage food waste. The combination of Artificial Intelligence and 3D food printing provides flexibility and scalability of the solution. 3D food printing allows for finished and ready-made food manufacturing that can quickly implement the requests handled by the AI.
The project is the outcome of a Master Thesis in Interaction Design, which includes (1) literature review on the relationships between sustainability, technology, and interaction design, (2) definition and analysis of design direction for sustainable innovation in the food sector, (3) ideation of a design solution that combines feasibility and sustainable societal needs, (4) working prototype of UX, UI and technology schema realization, (5) test the solution to collect feedback and ideas for future improvements.
The prototype is called Treddik: a platform that allows primary and secondary school students to create and print their snacks from fruit leftovers. AI plays a fundamental role: it detects food availability and displays it directly on the platform, and it helps operators in managing the snack production flow according to the required timing. The platform assumes both an educational and a ludic role for the primary user.
The impact of the solution is multifaceted and addresses the needs of different stakeholders. The child can educate himself on how to eat better and which behaviors positively and negatively impact the environment and society. They have the opportunity to carry out an alternative and different activity from the traditional classroom, an activity whose outcome is school is physical and tangible, and enjoyable. The system allows children to augment knowledge, be engaged in the food process, as well as the reduction of food waste.
Research suggested that the school (in Italy at least) is one of the places of more significant food waste. In addition, children do not have the proper awareness of nutrition and they are significantly influenced by the shape and aesthetic of what they eat.
Tests were carried out for the digital part of the designed system, a first MVP, with target users.
The solution not only demonstrated the interest of the users but also how the school food system can be improved from a more sustainable perspective.