By Janet Burns | PSFK
Kinneir Dufort, an integrated research, innovation, design and product development company, recently applied its skill-set to the task of developing technology for 3D-printed, portrait-bearing pancakes.
By combining its computer numerical control tech (CNC) with embedded face recognition and tracking software, the experimental system is designed to “[dispense] layers of batter directly onto a hot plate allowing the creation of detailed and complex images within the pancake surfaces.”
The prototype tech uses image processing and a digital camera for face tracking and extraction, while the firm’s “bespoke software turns this into contours for the batter dispenser.”
The result of this data is that the printer dispenses batter intended for an image’s darkest areas first, allowing it to cook longer, and can progress through a full four shades of batter color to create pictures. Ian Hollister, the group’s prototyping director, explained,
The real challenge was to create a program that enables the picture to be completed from start to finish within the exact timescale for the overall pancake to cook. Too little time and the darker tones wouldn’t be achieved, too long and the pancake would burn.
It should be noted, the prototype isn’t currently able to produce pancakes like the one shown here in the team’s photoshopped images, but the group’s experiments may lead to various advances in the fields of 3D-printing and fancy dessert-making.
The project’s breakthrough step, Kinneir Dufort noted, was the “conversion of brightness from the face image into layered X-Y data that [the firm] has incorporated into the design.” Bic Bicknell, brand and packaging head, said,
"Even though the first results we achieved with abstract patterns were exciting, we wanted to go a step further and create a unique dining experience that really involved the consumer.
We brought in our technology center and tasked them with this tough assignment. It’s one of the advantages we have here—to integrate technology and engineering skills to solve some of the many challenges brands face."
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