The Future of Food Is on Instagram

And no, you can’t eat it

Jess Herrington
OneZero
Published in
5 min readJan 31, 2020

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A digital doughnut available in augmented reality. Image: Fresh Hot Delicious/Instagram

DDigital food is here, so you may as well get used to it. The recent boom in online food-based media has changed how we look at food online and seek out new restaurants, reviews, and recipes. We want to add new flavors and try new foods. Digital food is one way to make this even easier.

There’s no consensus about what the term “digital food” really means. To some, it’s the sharing of images of food on social media to represent culture, calories, presentation, preparation, and taste. A plethora of food bloggers show status by filling our social feeds with images of perfectly arranged gustatory delights. Food can be basic, or it can be luxurious and exclusive. By showing specific types of food, we can signify ourselves as being a specific type of person.

Through this “digital food,” we can use new technologies to explore and represent who we are. Augmented reality (AR) provides a unique way to experience digital food. AR experiences by artists such as Robbie Conceptuel on Instagram allow you to become the food itself. With his filter, Bubble Tea, available on Instagram, your face is transformed into a trendy drink, and jelly bubbles pour out of your mouth when you open wide. With another filter, Papaya, your body is transformed into a tropical fruit that floats in nature.

Conceptuel describes digital food as a way to better connect with his audience and reduce waste: “I use food to make inanimate objects alive. And, it’s also universal. We all played with food when we were babies; I’m just playing without waste.”

Designers also create photo-realistic 3D food models specifically for AR. Design company QReal has created several AR experiences, such as Lobster, an Instagram filter where a user can place a…

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Jess Herrington
OneZero

Artist, writer, neuroscientist. Digital thing-maker. Innovation do-er. www.Jess herrington.com