Litigation against the food industry has left massive controversy in its wake and it’s the consumer who has been the real winner. But in-body computing looks set to change all that.
Intel’s new, personal ‘under-skin’ chip, appropriately named, ChippIE, knows what food you like and what’s good for you personally, before you eat it. This neat device is your own personal dietician available 24×7, wher-ever you are.
Designed to be implanted under your skin, ChippIE provides wireless access to the nutritional data that all food providers now have to furnish. It links to your own DNA, diet and healthcare data and tracks your daily consumption of food. It provides information and advice about the food choices you make, before you make them, and alerts you of foods inappropriate for your blood type or weight.
ChippIE fits your lifestyle and works via your cell phone, wristwatch, spectacles or what-ever other devices you choose. The best yet is that it can be installed on any other chip implant technology that you already have in use.
It is personal and private, and it is your choice. And as far as the food industry and the insurance companies are con-cerned, it puts the responsibility for what you eat back where it belongs – in the consumer’s hands.
ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be
1998: Tobacco companies respond to litigation
The USA’s four major tobacco companies reach an unprecedented $246 billion legal settlement with state governments, to help cover costs of smoking-related illnesses.
2002: Fast-food industry faces litigation
Jazlyn Bradley, a 19-year old Bronx teenager weighing 268lbs, sues McDonalds for making her fat. The prospect of a mountain of obesity lawsuits frightens the US fast-food industry.
‘Fast Food Nation’, Eric Schlosser’s groundbreaking exposé on the fast-food industry is published, sending ripples of alarm through the USA.
The human genome is unlocked.
2003: Gene chips developed
In May, 192 members of the World Health Organisation sign an unprecedented international treaty to clamp down on smoking. On the same day, an appeals court in Florida overturns a $145 billion compensation award granted by a lower court, to a group of smokers suing America’s five biggest tobacco companies.
In June, more than 100 US lawyers and consumer advocates pledge a broad series of lawsuits against fast-food chains, food manufacturers and even school boards that sell high-calorie soft drinks without offering healthier choices. The goal is not to put fast food out of business, but to get the industry to offer healthier choices and give the consumer more product information. 65% of adults and 13% of children in America are either overweight or obese.
In October, the ‘genome on a chip’ arrives. With pieces of all 30,000 or so, known human genes, the new integrated gene chip, or ‘microarray’, allows scientists to scan all genes in a human tissue sample at once to determine which genes are active (turned on) in a diseased organ, compared with those active in a healthy organ. Pharmaceutical companies will use them to predict drug effects. The new ‘whole-genome’ chips lower costs and increase the speed of testing, to achieve the genomics equivalent of Moore’s Law.
2004: Healthy fast-food demanded
Sales at fast-food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King decline further, despite massive changes in products and marketing strategies to reflect the need for more healthy food alternatives. ‘Fast casual’ food, comprising gourmet sandwich, salad and soup chains, increase their sales. Fast casual offers healthier menus, higher-quality, fresher, more varied food and a more tempting ambience than plastic chairs and garish lighting. With sales of $5 billion a year, fast-casual is tiny compared with the $153 billion fast-food market, but it is growing by 30% a year.
2005: Under-skin chip production begins
Intel teams up with sensor specialists, Cyberkinetics, to develop ‘under-skin’ chips, entering a market previously dominated by small venture capital firms. Analysts predict their entry will add credulity and popularize the use of the technology.
2006: Insurance industry pressurizes food industry>
Intel begins discussion with the fast-food industry and leading food companies to address the issue of the increasing number of class action law suits cases relating to diet. The food industry is under increasing pressure from the insurance industry to place responsibility back on the individual.
2007: Mass market for under-skin chip
Intel tests the first ‘under-skin’ chip. The 1mm chip is designed to replace your passport, ID card and mobile phone. It provides wireless access to all your personal health-care information, financial services and some voice and email communications.
The insurance industry proposes to offer substantially reduced premiums to people prepared to have Intel’s chip, when it is launched next year. Human Rights organizations protest vigorously about the issue of personal freedom around ‘under-skin’ chips, and what they perceive as coercion by the insurance companies.
Food labeling technology now provides realtime input to the implanted chip. This, in turn, provides recommendations and warnings to the individual based on their personalized diet plan, their consumption to date on the day, their food allergies etc.
2008: Chip passports in UK
The UK becomes the first country to implement ‘under-skin’ chip technology for use as passports. Participation is optional at this stage, and based on the success over the last ten years with ‘chip passports’ for pets. A take-up of more than one million citizens is expected in the first year.
2009: Custom-made fast food
Intel launches ChippIE, backed by a massive marketing campaign from new fast-food chain, Vitality. Simultaneously, Vitality launches custom-made fast food, designed to cater for specific nutritional needs. The move towards ‘implanted dieticians’ represents a massive service opportunity for retail stores which offer tailored customer advice and specific product ranges.
2012: Chip renders cell phone redundant
Intel’s under-skin chip replaces all the functions of the cell phone. In five years, Intel estimates we will be able to make a call just by ‘thinking’ about the person we want to call. We hear their response by direct stimulation of our nervous system and ‘see’ the latest movie by direct stimulation of the optic nerve.