The digital supermarket is part of the Future Food District. The 1500 products on display are positioned under digital mirrors that show information about the origins, manufacturing and ingredients of the food.
The architect, Carlo Ratti, says in the future, shoppers will know everything about the food item they’re considering buying.
“Every product has a precise story to tell. Today, this information reaches the consumer in a fragmented way,” Ratti says.
“In the near future, we will be able to discover everything there is to know about the apple we are looking at: the tree it grew on, the CO2 it produced, the chemical treatments it received, and its journey to the supermarket shelf.”
As customers peruse the produce, information about them is processed by a computer and fed to a “plotter” in the outside pavilion. The plotter is a large white screen with two mechanical arms spraying paint onto the canvas.
On the first day, customers’ faces adorned the walls.
Machines play a further part inside – robotic arms arrange food within the store, eliminating the need for human staff to do it.
The store also features a large wall of data customers can look at as they shop.
There’s also areas for producing food where plants and crops can grow. This promotes the idea that in the world of information and sharing via the internet, supermarkets could become like the Airbnb of produce.
Project leader Andrea Galanti says the combination of agriculture and a shop in the same place harks back to an older retail model.
“In a way, it is like a return to the old marketplace, where producers and consumers of food saw each other and had actual interactions,” Galanti says.