US20130269537A1 - Conditioning system for nutritional substances - Google Patents

Conditioning system for nutritional substances Download PDF

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Publication number
US20130269537A1
US20130269537A1 US13485866 US201213485866A US2013269537A1 US 20130269537 A1 US20130269537 A1 US 20130269537A1 US 13485866 US13485866 US 13485866 US 201213485866 A US201213485866 A US 201213485866A US 2013269537 A1 US2013269537 A1 US 2013269537A1
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nutritional
substance
information
conditioning
system
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US13485866
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Eugenio Minvielle
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ICEBERG LUXEMBOURG S.A.R.L.
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Eugenio Minvielle
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01NINVESTIGATING OR ANALYSING MATERIALS BY DETERMINING THEIR CHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
    • G01N33/00Investigating or analysing materials by specific methods not covered by the preceding groups
    • G01N33/02Food
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A23FOODS OR FOODSTUFFS; THEIR TREATMENT, NOT COVERED BY OTHER CLASSES
    • A23LFOODS, FOODSTUFFS, OR NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, NOT COVERED BY SUBCLASSES A23B - A23J; THEIR PREPARATION OR TREATMENT, e.g. COOKING, MODIFICATION OF NUTRITIVE QUALITIES, PHYSICAL TREATMENT; PRESERVATION OF FOODS OR FOODSTUFFS, IN GENERAL
    • A23L3/00Preservation of foods or foodstuffs, in general, e.g. pasteurising, sterilising, specially adapted for foods or foodstuffs
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A23FOODS OR FOODSTUFFS; THEIR TREATMENT, NOT COVERED BY OTHER CLASSES
    • A23LFOODS, FOODSTUFFS, OR NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, NOT COVERED BY SUBCLASSES A23B - A23J; THEIR PREPARATION OR TREATMENT, e.g. COOKING, MODIFICATION OF NUTRITIVE QUALITIES, PHYSICAL TREATMENT; PRESERVATION OF FOODS OR FOODSTUFFS, IN GENERAL
    • A23L5/00Preparation or treatment of foods or foodstuffs, in general; Food or foodstuffs obtained thereby; Materials therefor
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A23FOODS OR FOODSTUFFS; THEIR TREATMENT, NOT COVERED BY OTHER CLASSES
    • A23PSHAPING OR WORKING OF FOODSTUFFS, NOT FULLY COVERED BY A SINGLE OTHER SUBCLASS
    • A23P10/00Shaping or working of foodstuffs characterised by the products
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05BCONTROL OR REGULATING SYSTEMS IN GENERAL; FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS OF SUCH SYSTEMS; MONITORING OR TESTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUCH SYSTEMS OR ELEMENTS
    • G05B15/00Systems controlled by a computer
    • G05B15/02Systems controlled by a computer electric
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/10Office automation, e.g. computer aided management of electronic mail or groupware; Time management, e.g. calendars, reminders, meetings or time accounting
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05BELECTRIC HEATING; ELECTRIC LIGHTING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05B6/00Heating by electric, magnetic, or electromagnetic fields
    • H05B6/64Heating using microwaves
    • H05B6/6447Method of operation or details of the microwave heating apparatus related to the use of detectors or sensors
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05BELECTRIC HEATING; ELECTRIC LIGHTING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05B6/00Heating by electric, magnetic, or electromagnetic fields
    • H05B6/64Heating using microwaves
    • H05B6/647Aspects related to microwave heating combined with other heating techniques
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05BELECTRIC HEATING; ELECTRIC LIGHTING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05B6/00Heating by electric, magnetic, or electromagnetic fields
    • H05B6/64Heating using microwaves
    • H05B6/66Circuits
    • H05B6/68Circuits for monitoring or control
    • H05B6/687Circuits for monitoring or control for cooking
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H05ELECTRIC TECHNIQUES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05BELECTRIC HEATING; ELECTRIC LIGHTING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H05B6/00Heating by electric, magnetic, or electromagnetic fields
    • H05B6/64Heating using microwaves
    • H05B6/66Circuits
    • H05B6/68Circuits for monitoring or control
    • H05B6/688Circuits for monitoring or control for thawing
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A23FOODS OR FOODSTUFFS; THEIR TREATMENT, NOT COVERED BY OTHER CLASSES
    • A23VINDEXING SCHEME RELATING TO FOODS, FOODSTUFFS OR NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
    • A23V2002/00Food compositions, function of food ingredients or processes for food or foodstuffs
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02BCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES RELATED TO BUILDINGS, e.g. HOUSING, HOUSE APPLIANCES OR RELATED END-USER APPLICATIONS
    • Y02B40/00Technologies aiming at improving the efficiency of home appliances
    • Y02B40/10Technologies aiming at improving the efficiency of home appliances relating to domestic cooking
    • Y02B40/14Microwave ovens
    • Y02B40/143Control circuit or magnetron power supply

Abstract

Disclosed herein is a conditioning system for nutritional substances. The conditioning system obtains information regarding the nutritional substance to be conditioned, the desired conditioning, and the desired properties, including nutritional content, of the conditioned nutritional substance, and dynamically controls the conditioning in response to this information optimize the organoleptic properties of the conditioned nutritional substance, while minimizing any detrimental changes to the nutritional content.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS OR PRIORITY CLAIM
  • [0001]
    This application claims benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/624,745, filed Apr. 16, 2012; U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/624,765, filed Apr. 16, 2012; and U.S. Provisional Patent Application, 61/624,788, filed Apr. 16, 2012, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    The present inventions relate to condition systems for preparation of nutritional substances using information regarding source, preservation and current information, prior transformation information, consumer preference information, including recipe information to control one or more conditioning systems.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    Nutritional substances are traditionally grown (plants), raised (animals) or synthesized (synthetic compounds). Additionally, nutritional substances can be found in a wild, non-cultivated form, which can be caught or collected. While the collectors and creators of nutritional substances generally obtain and/or generate information about the source, history, caloric content and/or nutritional content of their products, they generally do not pass such information along to the users of their products. One reason is the nutritional substance industries have tended to act like “silo” industries. Each group in the food and beverage industry: growers, packagers, processors, distributors, retailers, and preparers work separately, and either shares no information, or very little information, between themselves. There is generally no consumer access to, and little traceability of, information regarding the creation and/or origin, preservation, processing, preparation, or consumption of nutritional substances. It would be desirable for such information be available to the consumers of nutritional substances, as well as all participants in the food and beverage industry—the nutritional substance supply system.
  • [0004]
    While the nutritional substance supply system has endeavored over the last 50 years to increase the caloric content of nutritional substances produced (which has help reduce starvation in developing countries, but has led to obesity problems in developed countries), maintaining, or increasing, the nutritional content of nutritional substances has been a lower priority. Caloric content refers to the energy in nutritional substances, commonly measured in calories. The caloric content could be represented as sugars and/or carbohydrates in the nutritional substances. The nutritional content of foods and beverages, as used herein, refers to the non-caloric content of these nutritional substances which are beneficial to the organisms which consume these nutritional substances. For example, the nutritional content of a nutritional substance could include vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other non-caloric components which are necessary, or at least beneficial, to the organism consuming the nutritional substances.
  • [0005]
    While there has recently been greater attention by consumer organizations, health organizations and the public to the nutritional content of foods and beverages, the food and beverage industry has been slow in responding to this attention. One reason for this may be that since the food and beverage industry operates as silos of those who create nutritional substances, those who preserve and transport nutritional substances, those who transform nutritional substances, and those who finally prepare the nutritional substances for consumption by the consumer, there has been no coordination of management of nutritional content. While each of these silo industries may be able to maintain or increase the nutritional content of the foods and beverages they handle, each silo industry has only limited information and control of the nutritional substances they receive, and the nutritional substances they pass along.
  • [0006]
    As consumers better understand their need for nutritional substances with higher nutritional content, they will start demanding that the food and beverage industry offer products which include higher nutritional content, and/or at least information regarding nutritional content of such products. In fact, consumers are already willing to pay higher prices for higher nutritional content. This can be seen at high-end grocery stores which offer organic, minimally processed, fresh, non-adulterated nutritional substances. Further, as societies and governments seek to improve their constituents' health and lower healthcare costs, incentives and/or mandates will be given to the food and beverage industry to track, maintain, and/or increase the nutritional content of nutritional substances they handle. There will be a need, not only within each food and beverage industry silo to maintain or improve the nutritional content of their products, but an industry-wide solution to allow the management of nutritional content across the entire cycle from creation to consumption. In order to manage the nutritional content of nutritional substances across the entire cycle from creation to consumption, the nutritional substance industry will need to identify, track, measure, estimate, preserve, transform, condition, and record nutritional content for nutritional substances. Of particular importance is the measurement, estimation, and tracking of changes to the nutritional content of a nutritional substance from creation to consumption. This information could be used, not only by the consumer in selecting particular nutritional substances to consume, but could be used by the other food and beverage industry silos, including creation, preservation, transformation, and conditioning, to make decisions on how to create, handle and process nutritional substances. Additionally, those who sell nutritional substances to consumers, such as restaurants and grocery stores, could market and price nutritional substances with higher nutritional content, or minimally degraded nutritional content.
  • [0007]
    For example, the grower of sweet corn generally only provides basic information as the variety and grade of its corn to the packager, who preserves and ships the corn to a producer for use in a ready-to-eat dinner. The packager may only tell the producer that the corn has been frozen as loose kernels of sweet corn. The producer may only provide the consumer with rudimentary instructions how to cook or reheat the ready-to-eat dinner in a microwave oven, toaster oven or conventional oven, and only tell the consumer that the dinner contains whole kernel corn among the various items in the dinner. Finally, the consumer of the dinner will likely keep her opinions on the quality of the dinner to herself, unless it was an especially bad experience, where she might contact the producer's customer support program to complain. Very minimal, or no, information on the nutritional content of the ready-to-eat dinner is passed along to the consumer. The consumer knows essentially nothing about changes (generally degradation) to the nutritional content of the sweet corn from creation, processing, packaging, cooking, preservation, preparation by consumer, and finally consumption by the consumer.
  • [0008]
    Consumers' needs are changing as consumers are demanding healthier foods, such as “organic foods.” Customers are also asking for more information about the nutritional substances they consume, such as specific characteristics' relating not only to nutritional content, but to allergens or digestive intolerances. For example, nutritional substances which contain lactose, gluten, nuts, dyes, etc. need to be avoided by certain consumers. However, the producer of the ready-to-eat dinner, in the prior example, has very little information to share other than possibly the source of the elements of the ready-to-eat dinner and its processing steps in preparing the dinner. Generally, the producer of the ready-to-eat dinner does not know the nutritional content and organoleptic state of the product after it has been reheated or cooked by the consumer. For example, the consumer may want to know what proportion of organoleptic properties and/or nutritional content the corn in the ready-to-eat dinner remain after cooking or reheating, and the change in nutritional content (usually a degradation). There is a need to preserve, measure, estimate, store and/or transmit such nutritional content information throughout the nutritional substance supply system.
  • [0009]
    The caloric and nutritional content information for a prepared food that is provided to the consumer is often minimal. For example, when sugar is listed in the ingredient list, the consumer generally does receive any information about the source of the sugar, which can come from a variety of plants, such as sugarcane, beets, or corn, which will affect its nutritional content. Conversely, some nutritional information that is provided to consumers is so detailed, the consumer can do little with it. For example, this of ingredients is from a nutritional label on a consumer product: Vitamins—A 355 IU 7%, E 0.8 mg 4%, K 0.5 mcg, 1%, Thiamin 0.6 mg 43%, Riboflavin 0.3 mg 20%, Niacin 6.0 mg 30%, B6 1.0 mg 52%, Foliate 31.5 mcg 8%, Pantothenic 7%; Minerals Calcium 11.6 1%, Iron 4.5 mg 25%, 211 mg 53%, Phosphorus 349 mg 35%, Potassium 476 mg 14%, Sodium 58.1 mg 2%, Zinc 3.7 mg 24%, Copper 0.5 mg 26%, Manganese 0.8 mg 40%, Selenium 25.7 mcg 37%; Carbohydrate 123 g, Dietary fiber 12.1 g, Saturated fat 7.9 g, Monosaturated Fat 2, 1 g, Polysaturated Fat 3.6 g, Omega 3 fatty acids 108 g, Omega 6 fatty acids 3481, Ash 2.0 g and Water 17.2 g. (%=Daily Value). There is a need to provide information about nutritional substances in a meaningful manner. Such information needs to be presented in a manner that meets the specific needs of a particular consumer. For example, consumers with a medical condition, such as diabetes, would want to track specific information regarding sugar and nutrients in the foods and beverages they consume.
  • [0010]
    If fact, each silo in the food and beverage industry already creates and tracks some information, including caloric and nutritional information, about their product internally. For example, the framer who grew the corn knows the variety of the seed, condition of the soil, the source of the water, the fertilizers and pesticides used, and can measure the caloric and nutritional content at creation. The packager of the corn knows when it was picked, how it was transported to the packaging plant, how the corn was preserved and packaged before being sent to the ready-to-eat dinner producer, when it was delivered to the producer, and what degradation to caloric and nutritional content has occurred. The producer knows the source of each element of the ready-to-eat dinner, how it was processed, including the recipe followed, and how it was preserved and packaged for the consumer. Not only does such a producer know what degradation to caloric and nutritional occurred, the producer can modify its processing and post-processing preservation to minimally affect nutritional content. The preparation of the nutritional substance for consumption can also degrade the nutritional content of nutritional substances. Finally, the consumer knows how she prepared the dinner, what condiments were added, and whether she did or did not enjoy it.
  • [0011]
    If there was a mechanism to share this information, the quality of the nutritional substances, including caloric and nutritional content, could be preserved and improved. Consumers could be better informed about nutritional substances they select and consume, including the state of the nutritional substance throughout its lifecycle from creation to consumption. The efficiency and cost effectiveness of nutritional substances could also be improved. Feedback within the entire chain from creator to consumer could provide a closed-loop system that could improve quality (taste, appearance, and caloric and nutritional content), efficiency, value and profit. For example, in the milk supply chain, at least 10% of the milk produced is wasted due to safety margins included in product expiration dates. The use of more accurate tracking information, measured quality (including nutritional content) information, and historical environmental information could substantially reduce such waste. Collecting, preserving, measuring and/or tracking information about a nutritional substance in the nutritional substance supply system, would allow needed accountability. There would be nothing to hide.
  • [0012]
    As consumers are demanding more information about what they consume, they are asking for products that have higher nutritional content and more closely match good nutritional requirements, and would like nutritional products to actually meet their specific nutritional requirements. While grocery stores, restaurants, and all those who process and sell food and beverages may obtain some information from current nutritional substance tracking systems, such as labels, these current systems can provide only limited information.
  • [0013]
    Consumers of nutritional substances are sometimes given options on how to prepare nutritional substances they have obtained from the store, such as different cooking devices: microwave ovens, conventional ovens, etc., and/or limited taste preferences such as crunchy or soft. However, if the consumer desires to prepare a specific recipe, they must obtain all the proper ingredients themselves, as well as prepare the recipe themselves including which cooking appliances need to be used.
  • [0014]
    An important issue in the creation, preservation, transformation, conditioning, and consumption of nutritional substances are the changes that occur in nutritional substances due to a variety of internal and external factors. Because nutritional substances are composed of biological, organic, and/or chemical compounds, they are generally subject to degradation. This degradation generally reduces the nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic values of nutritional substances. While not always true, nutritional substances are best consumed at their point of creation. However, being able to consume nutritional substances at the farm, at the slaughterhouse, at the fishery, or at the food processing plant is at least inconvenient, if not impossible. Currently, the food and beverage industry attempts to minimize the loss of nutritional value (often through the use of additives or preservatives), and/or attempts to hide this loss of nutritional value from consumers.
  • [0015]
    Overall, the examples herein of some prior or related systems and their associated limitations are intended to be illustrative and not exclusive. Other limitations of existing or prior systems will become apparent to those of skill in the art upon reading the following Detailed Description.
  • OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION
  • [0016]
    It is an object of the present invention to obtain information regarding the source, packaging and transformation of the nutritional substance to provide to the consumer.
  • [0017]
    It is another object of the present invention to obtain information regarding the source, packaging and transformation of the nutritional substance, and the conditioning of the nutritional substance to provide to the consumer.
  • [0018]
    It is a further object of the present invention to modify the conditioning of the nutritional substance according to the source, packaging and/or transformation information.
  • [0019]
    It is a further object of the present invention to use source, packaging and transformation information to appropriately select the conditioning settings for a single conditioning apparatus and/or multiple conditioning apparatuses.
  • [0020]
    It is another object of the present invention to select the conditioning settings according to the preferences and/or needs of the consumer.
  • [0021]
    It is a further object of the present invention to use external recipe information to modify the conditioning of a nutritional substance according to the needs and/or tastes of the consumer.
  • [0022]
    It is an object of the present invention to minimize and/or track degradation of nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value of nutritional substances, and/or collect, store, and/or transmit information regarding this degradation.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0023]
    In an embodiment of the present invention, information regarding the source, packaging and transformation of a nutritional substance is transmitted to the consumer following the conditioning of the product.
  • [0024]
    In another embodiment of the present invention, information regarding the source, packaging and transformation of a nutritional substance is used in the conditioning of the nutritional substance to preserve nutritional value and/or improve the quality of the conditioned nutritional substance.
  • [0025]
    In a further embodiment of the present invention, that one or more conditions apparatuses use source, packaging and/or transformation information to modify the conditioning of the nutritional substance.
  • [0026]
    In another embodiment of the present invention, the consumer's needs and/or preferences are used by the conditioning apparatus in the preparation of the nutritional substance.
  • [0027]
    In a further embodiment of the present invention, external recipe information is used by the conditioning apparatus to modify the conditioning of the nutritional substance.
  • [0028]
    The an embodiment of the present invention provides a system for the creation, collection, storage, transmission, and/or processing of information regarding nutritional substances so as to improve, maintain, or minimize degradation of nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value of nutritional substances. Additionally, the present invention provides such information for use by the creators, preservers, transformers, conditioners, and consumers of nutritional substances. The nutritional information creation, preservation, and transmission system of the present invention should allow the nutritional substance supply system to improve its ability to minimize degradation of nutritional, organoleptic and/or aesthetic value of the nutritional substance, and/or inform the consumer about such degradation. While the ultimate goal of the nutritional substance supply system is to minimize degradation of nutritional, organoleptic and/or aesthetic value, an interim goal should be providing consumers with significant information regarding degradation of nutritional substances consumers select and consume. Entities within the nutritional substance supply system who provide such information regarding nutritional substance degradation will be able to differentiate their products from those who obscure and/or hide such information. Additionally, such entities should be able to charge a premium for products which either maintain their nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value, or supply more complete information.
  • [0029]
    Other advantages and features will become apparent from the following description and claims. It should be understood that the description and specific examples are intended for purposes of illustration only and not intended to limit the scope of the present disclosure.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0030]
    The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, exemplify the embodiments of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain and illustrate principles of the invention. The drawings are intended to illustrate major features of the exemplary embodiments in a diagrammatic manner. The drawings are not intended to depict every feature of actual embodiments nor relative dimensions of the depicted elements, and are not drawn to scale.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 1 shows a schematic functional block diagram of a nutritional substance supply relating to the present invention;
  • [0032]
    FIG. 2 shows a graph representing a value of a nutritional substance which changes according to a change of condition for the nutritional substance;
  • [0033]
    FIG. 3 shows a schematic functional block diagram of the conditioning module 500 according to the present invention;
  • [0034]
    FIG. 4 shows a schematic functional block diagram of the conditioning module 500 according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0035]
    FIG. 5 shows a schematic functional block diagram of the conditioning module 500 according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention; and
  • [0036]
    FIG. 6 shows a schematic functional block diagram of the conditioning module 500 according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0037]
    In the drawings, the same reference numbers and any acronyms identify elements or acts with the same or similar structure or functionality for ease of understanding and convenience. To easily identify the discussion of any particular element or act, the most significant digit or digits in a reference number refer to the Figure number in which that element is first introduced.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0038]
    Various examples of the invention will now be described. The following description provides specific details for a thorough understanding and enabling description of these examples. One skilled in the relevant art will understand, however, that the invention may be practiced without many of these details. Likewise, one skilled in the relevant art will also understand that the invention can include many other obvious features not described in detail herein. Additionally, some well-known structures or functions may not be shown or described in detail below, so as to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the relevant description.
  • [0039]
    The terminology used below is to be interpreted in its broadest reasonable manner, even though it is being used in conjunction with a detailed description of certain specific examples of the invention. Indeed, certain terms may even be emphasized below; however, any terminology intended to be interpreted in any restricted manner will be overtly and specifically defined as such in this Detailed Description section.
  • [0040]
    The following discussion provides a brief, general description of a representative environment in which the invention can be implemented. Although not required, aspects of the invention may be described below in the general context of computer-executable instructions, such as routines executed by a general-purpose data processing device (e.g., a server computer or a personal computer). Those skilled in the relevant art will appreciate that the invention can be practiced with other communications, data processing, or computer system configurations, including: wireless devices, Internet appliances, hand-held devices (including personal digital assistants (PDAs)), wearable computers, all manner of cellular or mobile phones, multi-processor systems, microprocessor-based or programmable consumer electronics, set-top boxes, network PCs, mini-computers, mainframe computers, and the like. Indeed, the terms “controller,” “computer,” “server,” and the like are used interchangeably herein, and may refer to any of the above devices and systems.
  • [0041]
    While aspects of the invention, such as certain functions, are described as being performed exclusively on a single device, the invention can also be practiced in distributed environments where functions or modules are shared among disparate processing devices. The disparate processing devices are linked through a communications network, such as a Local Area Network (LAN), Wide Area Network (WAN), or the Internet. In a distributed computing environment, program modules may be located in both local and remote memory storage devices.
  • [0042]
    Aspects of the invention may be stored or distributed on tangible computer-readable media, including magnetically or optically readable computer discs, hard-wired or preprogrammed chips (e.g., EEPROM semiconductor chips), nanotechnology memory, biological memory, or other data storage media. Alternatively, computer implemented instructions, data structures, screen displays, and other data related to the invention may be distributed over the Internet or over other networks (including wireless networks), on a propagated signal on a propagation medium (e.g., an electromagnetic wave(s), a sound wave, etc.) over a period of time. In some implementations, the data may be provided on any analog or digital network (packet switched, circuit switched, or other scheme).
  • [0043]
    In some instances, the interconnection between modules is the internet, allowing the modules (with, for example, WiFi capability) to access web content offered through various web servers. The network may be any type of cellular, IP-based or converged telecommunications network, including but not limited to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDM), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE), Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS), Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX), Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), Evolution-Data Optimized (EVDO), Long Term Evolution (LTE), Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA), etc.
  • [0044]
    The modules in the systems can be understood to be integrated in some instances and in particular embodiments, only particular modules may be interconnected.
  • [0045]
    FIG. 1 shows the components of a nutritional substance industry 10. It should be understood that this could be the food and beverage and beverage ecosystem for human consumption, but could also be the feed industry for animal consumption, such as the pet food industry. A goal of the present invention for nutritional substance industry 10 is to create, preserve, transform and trace the qualitative, organoleptic and nutritional properties of nutritional substances through their creation, preservation, transformation, conditioning and consumption. While the nutritional substance industry 10 can be composed of many companies or businesses, it can also be integrated into combinations of business serving many roles, or can be one business or even individual.
  • [0046]
    Module 200 is the creation module. This can be system, organization, or individual which creates and/or originates nutritional substances. Examples of this module include a farm which grows produce. It can be a ranch which raises beef. It can be an aquaculture far for growing shrimp. It could be a factory with synthesizes nutritional compounds. It could be collector of wild truffles. If could be a deep sea crab trawler.
  • [0047]
    Preservation module 300 is a preservation system for preserving and protecting the nutritional substances created by creation module 200. Once the nutritional substance has been created, generally, it will need to be packaged in some manner for its transition to other modules in the nutritional substances industry 10. While preservation module 300 is shown in a particular position in the nutritional substance industry 10, following the creation module 200, it should be understood that the preservation module 300 actual can be placed anywhere nutritional substances need to be preserved during their transition from creation to consumption.
  • [0048]
    Transformation module 400 is a nutritional substance processing system, such as a manufacturer who processes raw materials such as grains into breakfast cereals. Transformation module 400 could also be a ready-to-eat dinner manufacturer who receives the components for a ready-to-eat dinner from preservation module 300 and prepares them into a frozen dinner. While transformation module 400 is depicted as one module, it will be understood that nutritional substances may be transformed by a number of transformation modules 400 on their path to consumption.
  • [0049]
    Conditioning module 500 is a consumer preparation system for preparing the nutritional substance immediately before consumption by the consumer. Conditioning module 500 can be a microwave oven, a blender, a toaster, a convection oven, a cook, etc. It can also be systems used by commercial establishments to prepare nutritional substance for consumers such as a restaurant, an espresso maker, pizza oven, and other devices located at businesses which provide nutritional substances to consumers. Such nutritional substances could be for consumption at the business or for the consumer to take out from the business. Conditioning module 500 can also be a combination of any of these devices used to prepare nutritional substances for consumption by consumers.
  • [0050]
    Consumer module 600 collects information from the living entity which consumes the nutritional substance which has passed through the various modules from creation to consumption. The consumer can be a human being, but could also be an animal, such as pets, zoo animals and livestock, which are they themselves nutritional substances for other consumption chains. Consumers could also be plant life which consumes nutritional substances to grow.
  • [0051]
    Information module 100 receives and transmits information regarding a nutritional substance between each of the modules in the nutritional substance industry 10 including, the creation module 200, the preservation module 300, the transformation module 400, the conditioning module 500, and the consumer module 600. The nutritional substance information module 100 can be an interconnecting information transmission system which allows the transmission of information between various modules. Information module 100 contains a database where the information regarding the nutritional substance resides. Information module 100 can be connected to the other modules by a variety of communication systems, such as paper, computer networks, the internet and telecommunication systems, such as wireless telecommunication systems.
  • [0052]
    FIG. 2 is a graph showing the function of how a value of a nutritional substance varies over the change in a condition of the nutritional substance. Plotted on the vertical axis of this graph can be either the nutritional value, organoleptic value, or even the aesthetic value of a nutritional substance. Plotted on the horizontal axis can be the change in condition of nutritional substance over a variable such as time, temperature, location, and/or exposure to environmental conditions. This exposure to environmental conditions can include exposure to air, including oxygen, exposure to moisture, exposure to radiation such as heat or sunlight, or exposure to materials such as packaging. The function plotted as nutritional substance A could show the degradation of in the nutritional value of milk over time. Any point on this curve can be compared to another point to measure and/or describe the change in nutritional value. The plot of the degradation in nutritional value of nutritional substance B describes a nutritional substance which starts out with a higher nutritional value than nutritional substance A, but degrades over time more quickly than nutritional substance A.
  • [0053]
    If, in this example, where nutritional substance A and nutritional substance B are milk, this information regarding the nutritional substance degradation profile of each milk could be used by the consumer in the selection and/or consumption of the milk. If the consumer has this information at time zero when selecting a milk product for purchase, the consumer could consider when the consumer plans to consume the milk, whether that is on one occasion or multiple occasions. For example, if the consumer planned to consume the milk prior to the point when the curve represented by nutritional substance B crosses the curve represented by nutritional substance A, then the consumer should choose the milk represented by nutritional substance B because it has a higher nutritional value until it crosses the curve represented by nutritional substance A. However, if the consumer expects to consume at least some of the milk at a point in time after the time when the curve represented by nutritional substance B crosses the curve represented by nutritional substance A, then the consumer might choose to select the milk represented by the nutritional substance A, even though milk represented by nutritional substance A has a lower nutritional value than the milk represented by nutritional substance B at an earlier time. This change to a desired value in a nutritional substance over a change in the nutritional substance described in FIG. 2 can be measured and/or controlled throughout nutritional substance supply system 10 in FIG. 1.
  • [0054]
    In FIG. 1, Creation module 200 can dynamically encode nutritional substances to enable the tracking of nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value of the nutritional substance. This dynamic encoding can replace and/or complement existing nutritional substance marking systems such as barcodes, labels, and/or ink markings. This dynamic encoding can be used to make nutritional substance information from creation module 200 available to information module 100 for use by preservation module 300, transformation module 400, conditioning module 500, and/or consumption module 600, which includes the ultimate consumer of the nutritional substance. One method of marking the nutritional substance by creation module 200 (or actually any other module in nutritional supply system 10) could include an electronic tagging system, such as the tagging system manufactured by Kovio of San Jose, Calif., USA. Such thin film chips can be used not only for tracking nutritional substances, by can include components to measure attributes of nutritional substances, and record and transmit such information. Such information may be readable by a reader including a satellite-based system. Such a satellite-based nutritional substance information tracking system could comprise a network of satellites with coverage of some or all the surface of the earth, so as to allow information module 100 real time, near real time updates about a particular nutritional substance.
  • [0055]
    Preservation module 300 includes packers and shippers of nutritional substances. The tracking of nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic values during the preservation period within preservation module 300 allows for dynamic expiration dates for nutritional substances. For example, expiration dates for dairy products are currently based generally only on time using assumptions regarding minimal conditions at which dairy products are maintained. This extrapolated expiration date is based on a worst-case scenario for when the product becomes unsafe to consume during the preservation period. In reality, the degradation of dairy products may be significantly less than this worst-case. If preservation module 300 could measure or derive the actual degradation information, the actual expiration date could be significantly later in time. This would allow the nutritional substance supply system to dispose of fewer products due to expiration dates. This ability to dynamically generate expiration dates for nutritional substances is of particular significance when nutritional substances contain few or no preservatives. Such products are highly valued throughout nutritional substance supply system 10, including consumers who are willing to pay a premium for nutritional substances with few or no preservatives.
  • [0056]
    By law, in many localities, food processors such as those in transformation module 400 are required to provide nutritional substance information regarding their products. Often, this information takes the form of a nutritional table applied to the packaging of the nutritional substance. Currently, the information in this nutritional table is based on averages or minimums for their typical product. Using the nutritional substance information from information module 100 provided by creation module 200, preservation module 300, and/or information from the transformation of the nutritional substance by transformation module 400, the food processor could include a nutritional table for the actual nutritional substance being supplied. The information in such a dynamically generated nutritional table could be used by conditioning module 500 in the preparation of the nutritional substance, and/or used by consumption module 600, so as to allow the ultimate consumer the ability to select the most desirable nutritional substance which meets their needs, and/or to track information regarding nutritional substances consumed.
  • [0057]
    The change in nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value by conditioning module 500 is currently not tracked or provided to the consumer. However, using information provided by information module 100 from creation module 200, preservation module 300, transformation module 400, and/or information measured or generated by conditioning module 500, conditioning module 500 could provide consumer with the actual, and/or estimated change in nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic values of the nutritional substance. Such information regarding the change to nutritional, organoleptic and/or aesthetic value of the nutritional substance could be provided not only to the consumer, but could also be provided to information module 100 for use by creation module 200, preservation module 300, transformation module 400, so as to track, and possibly improve nutritional substances throughout the entire nutritional substance supply system 10.
  • [0058]
    The information regarding nutritional substances provided by information module 100 to consumption module 600 can replace or complement existing information sources such as recipe books, food databases like www.epicurious.com, and Epicurious apps. Through the use of specific information regarding a nutritional substance from information module 100, consumers can use consumption module 600 to select nutritional substances according to nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic values. This will allow consumers to make informed decisions regarding nutritional substance additives, preservatives, genetic modifications, origins, traceability, and other nutritional substance attributes. This information can be provided by consumption module 600 through personal computers, laptop computers, tablet computers, and/or smartphones. Software running on these devices can include dedicated computer programs, modules within general programs, and/or smartphone apps. An example of such a smartphone app regarding nutritional substances is the iOS ShopNoGMO from the Institute for Responsible Technology. This iPhone app allows consumers access to information regarding non-genetically modified organisms they may select. Additionally, consumption module 600 may provide information for the consumer to operate conditioning module 500 in such a manner as to preserve nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value.
  • [0059]
    Through the use of nutritional substance information available from information module 100, nutritional substance supply system 10 can track nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value. Using this information, nutritional substances travelling through nutritional substance supply system 10 can be dynamically valued and priced according to nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic values. For example, nutritional substances with longer expiration dates (longer shelf life) may be more highly valued than nutritional substances with shorter expiration dates. Additionally, nutritional substances with higher nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic values may be more highly valued, not just by the consumer, but also by each entity within nutritional substance supply system 10. This is because each entity will want to start with a nutritional substance with higher nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value before it performs its function and passes the nutritional substance along to the next entity.
  • [0060]
    During the period of implementation of the present inventions, there will be nutritional substances being marketed which include nutritional information (information-enabled nutritional substances), and nutritional substances which are not information enabled, dumb nutritional substances. Information-enabled nutritional substances would be available in virtual internet marketplaces, as well as traditional marketplaces. Because of information provided by information-enabled nutritional substances, entities within the nutritional substance supply system 10, including consumers, would be able to review and select information-enabled nutritional substances for purchase. It should be expected that, initially, the information-enabled nutritional substances would enjoy a higher market value and price than dumb nutritional substances. However, as information-enabled nutritional substances become more the norm, the cost savings from less waste due to degradation of information-enabled nutritional substances could lead to their price actually becoming less than dumb nutritional substances.
  • [0061]
    For example, the producer of a ready-to-eat dinner would prefer to use corn of a high nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value in the production of its product, the ready-to-eat dinner, so as to produce a premium product of high nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value. Depending upon the levels of the nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic values, the ready-to-eat dinner producer may be able to charge a premium price and/or differentiate its product from that of other producers. When selecting the corn to be used in the ready-to-eat dinner, the producer will seek corn of high nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value from preservation module 300 that meets its requirements for nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value. The packager/shipper of preservation module 300 would also be able to charge a premium for corn which has high nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic values. And finally, the packager/shipper of preservation module 300 will select corn of high nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value from the grower of creation module 200, who will also be able to charge a premium for corn of high nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic values.
  • [0062]
    The nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value for a nutritional substance tracked through nutritional substance supply system 10 through nutritional substance information from information module 100 can be preferably measured information. However, some or all such nutritional substance information may be derived through measurements of environmental conditions of the nutritional substance as it travelled through nutritional substance supply system 10. Additionally, some or all of nutritional substance information can be derived from data of other nutritional substances which have travelled through nutritional substance supply system 10. Finally, nutritional substance information can also be derived from laboratory experiments performed on other nutritional substances, which may approximate conditions and/or processes to which the actual nutritional substance has been exposed.
  • [0063]
    For example, laboratory experiments can be performed on bananas to determine effect on nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value for a variety of environmental conditions bananas may be exposed to during packaging and shipment in preservation module 300. Using this experimental data, tables and/or algorithms could be developed which would predict the level of nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic values for a particular banana based upon information collected regarding the environmental conditions to which the banana was exposed during its time in preservation module 300. While the ultimate goal for nutritional substance supply system 10 would be the actual measurement of nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic values, use of derived nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic value from experimental information would allow more accurate tracking of nutritional, organoleptic, and/or aesthetic values while technology and systems are put in place to allow actual measurement.
  • [0064]
    FIG. 3 shows an embodiment of conditioning module 500 of the present invention. Conditioner system 510 receives nutritional substance 520 for conditioning before it is delivered to consumer 540. Controller 530 is operably connected to conditioner system 510. In fact, controller 530 may be integrated within conditioner system 510, although in FIG. 2, it is shown as a separate device. When conditioner system 510 receives nutritional substance 520 for conditioning, nutritional substance reader 590 either receives or references information regarding nutritional substance 520, and provides it to controller 530. In the case where nutritional substance 520 contains a label which includes information about nutritional substance 520, nutritional substance reader 590 reads this information, provides it to controller 530 and makes it available to consumer 540 by means of consumer interface 560.
  • [0065]
    For example, if nutritional substance 520 is a ready-to-eat frozen dinner which needs to be heated by conditioner system 510, nutritional substance reader 590 would read a label on nutritional substance 520, provide it to controller 530. This information could include creation information as to the creation of the various components which constitute the ready-to-eat dinner. This information could include information about where and how the corn in the ready-to-eat dinner was grown, including the corn seed used, where it was planted, how it was planted, how it was irrigated, when it was picked, and information on fertilizers and pesticides used during its growth. Additionally, this information could include the cattle lineage, health, immunization, dietary supplements that were fed to the cattle that were slaughtered to obtain the beef in the ready-to-eat dinner.
  • [0066]
    The information on nutritional substance 520 could also include information on how the components were preserved for shipment from the farm or slaughterhouse on their path to the nutritional substance transformer who prepared the ready-to-eat dinner. Additional information could include how the nutritional substance transformer transformed the components into the ready-to-eat dinner, such as recipe used, additives to the dinner, and actual measured conditions during the transformation into the ready-to-eat dinner.
  • [0067]
    While such information could be stored on a label located on the packaging for nutritional substance 520 so as to be read by nutritional substance reader 590, provided to controller 530, and provided to consumer interface 560 for display to consumer 540, preferably, the label on the nutritional substance package includes reference information which is read by nutritional substance reader 590 and provided to controller 530 that allows controller 530 to retrieve the information about nutritional substance 520 from nutritional substance database 550.
  • [0068]
    Nutritional substance database 550 could be a database maintained by the transformer of nutritional substance 520 for access by consumers of such nutritional substance 520. However, preferably, nutritional substance database 550 is a database maintained by the nutritional substance industry for all such information regarding nutritional substances grown, raised, preserved, transformed, conditioned and consumed by consumer 540.
  • [0069]
    In an alternate embodiment of the present invention, controller 530, in addition to providing information regarding nutritional substance 520 to consumer 540, controller 530 also receives information from conditioner system 510 on how nutritional substance 520 was conditioned. Additionally, conditioner system 510 may also measure or sense information about nutritional substance 520 during its conditioning by conditioner system 510, and provide such information to controller 530, so that such information could also be provided to consumer 540, via consumer interface 560.
  • [0070]
    In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, controller 530 organizes and correlates the information it receives regarding nutritional substance 520 from the various sources of such information, including nutritional substance database 550 and conditioner system 510, and presents such information through consumer interface 560 to consumer 540 in a manner useful to consumer 540. For example, such information may be provided in a manner that assists consumer 540 in understanding how nutritional substance 520 meets consumer's 540 nutritional needs. It could organize information regarding nutritional substance 520 to track consumer's 540 weight loss program. Controller 530 could have access to, or maintain, information regarding consumer 540, so as to track and assist consumer 540 in meeting their specific nutritional needs.
  • [0071]
    In another embodiment of the present invention conditioner system 510 could be a plurality of conditioner devices which can be selectively operated by controller 530 to prepare nutritional substance 520. Conditioner system 510 can be either a single conditioning device, such as a microwave oven, conventional oven, toaster, blender, steamer, stovetop, or human cook. Conditioner system 510 may be a plurality of conditioners 570. In the case where a plurality of conditioners 570 comprise conditioner system 510, nutritional system 520 may be manually or automatically transferred between conditioners 570 for eventual transfer to consumer 540.
  • [0072]
    Nutritional substance reader 590 may be an automatic reader such as a barcode reader or RFID sensor which receives information from nutritional substance 520 or a reference code from nutritional substance 520 and provides this information to controller 530. Nutritional substance reader 590 might also be a manual entry system where the reference code for nutritional substance 520 is manually entered into nutritional substance reader 590 for controller 530.
  • [0073]
    Nutritional substance database 550 could be a flat database, relational database or, preferably, a multi-dimensional database. Nutritional substance database 550 could be local but, preferably, it would be located remotely, such as on the internet, and accessed via a telecommunication system, such as a wireless telecommunication system. Controller 530 can be implemented using a computing device, such as a micro-controller, micro-processor, personal computer, or tablet computer. Controller 530 could be integrated to include nutritional substance reader 590, consumer interface 560, and/or nutritional substance database 550. Additionally, controller 530 may be integrated in conditioner system 510, including integration into conditioner 570.
  • [0074]
    Consumer interface 560 can be implemented as a display device mounted on controller 530, conditioner system 510, or conditioner 570. However, consumer interface 560 is preferably a tablet computer, personal computer, personal assistant, or smart phone, running appropriate software, such as an app.
  • [0075]
    While conditioner module 500 can be located in the consumer's home, conditioner module 500 may be located at a restaurant or other food service establishment for use in preparing nutritional substances 520 for consumers who patronize such an establishment. Additionally, conditioner module 500 could be located at a nutritional substance seller such as a grocery store or health food store for preparation of nutritional substances 520 purchased by consumers at such an establishment. It could be foreseen that conditioner modules 500 could become standalone businesses where consumers select nutritional substances for preparation at the establishment or removal from the establishment for consumption elsewhere.
  • [0076]
    FIG. 4 shows an embodiment of conditioning module 500 of the present invention. Conditioner system 510 receives nutritional substance 520 for conditioning before it is delivered to consumer 540. Controller 530 is operably connected to conditioner system 510. In fact, controller 530 may be integrated within conditioner system 510, although in FIG. 2, it is shown as a separate device. When conditioner system 510 receives nutritional substance 520 for conditioning, nutritional substance reader 590 either receives or references information regarding nutritional substance 520, an provides it to controller 530. In the case where nutritional substance 520 contains a label which includes information about nutritional substance 520, nutritional substance reader 590 reads this information, provides it to controller 530 and makes it available to consumer 540 by means of consumer interface 560.
  • [0077]
    In an embodiment of the present invention, conditioner system 510 comprises conditioner 570. Conditioner 570 is a conditioning apparatus which can perform a number of operations on nutritional substance 520, separately and/or at the same time. For example, conditioner 570 could be a combination microwave oven, convection oven, grill, and conventional oven. Controller 530 could operate conditioner 570 to execute a sequence of conditioning cycles on nutritional substance 520 to complete its conditioning.
  • [0078]
    For example, if nutritional substance 520 is a whole frozen turkey to be prepared for dinner, consumer 540 would place the turkey in conditioner 570, the combination cooking unit suggested above. Controller 530 would receive and/or create a protocol of conditioning cycles. Such a protocol could be read by nutritional substance reader 590 from a label on nutritional substance 520. Alternately, a protocol of conditioning cycles could be obtained from nutritional substance database 550 through reference information obtained by nutritional substance reader 590 by nutritional substance 520. For example, a label on the turkey, could be read by nutritional substance reader 590, providing reference information for the turkey which controller 530 uses to obtain a conditioning protocol for the turkey from nutritional substance database 550.
  • [0079]
    An example of such a conditioning protocol for a frozen turkey could be to operate conditioner 570, the combination cooking unit in the following fashion. First, controller 530 instructs conditioner 570 to use the microwave function of the combination cooking unit to defrost the turkey according to the protocol and possibly according to conditioner information provided by conditioner 570, such as the weight of the turkey and information regarding the defrosting process as measured by conditioner 570. Following defrosting of the turkey, controller 530 next instructs the combination cooking unit to operate as a convection oven to cook the turkey for a sufficient length of time so as to ensure that the turkey reaches the proper internal temperature to meet safety requirements, and to maximize organoleptic and/or nutritional properties. Following the convection oven cooking of the turkey, controller 530 could instruct the combination cooking unit to grill the turkey for a sufficient period of time to create a desirable golden and crispy skin. Finally, controller 530 could instruct the combination cooking unit to use all three cooking functions at the same time to prepare the turkey for optimal consumption.
  • [0080]
    Alternately, conditioner system 510 could be composed of a plurality of conditioners 570. While an automated system for moving a nutritional substance between such conditioners would be optimal, conditioner system 510 could be operated manually by consumer 540 from instructions provided to consumer interface 560. In this embodiment, controller 530 could provide consumer 540 with instructions as to where to move the turkey after each step in the conditioning protocol. In this example, controller 530 instructs consumer 540 through consumer interface 560 to first place the frozen turkey in conditioner 570, a microwave oven. Controller 530 instructs the microwave oven to defrost the turkey based on information possibly provided by nutritional substance reader 590, nutritional substance database 550 and/or conditioner 570. Upon completion of defrosting by the microwave oven, controller 530 could instruct consumer 540 through interface 560 to move the defrosted turkey from the microwave oven to another conditioner 570, a convection oven. Controller 530 would operate the convection oven to cooke the turkey for a sufficient length of time so as to ensure that the turkey reaches the proper internal temperature to meet safety requirements, and to maximize organoleptic and/or nutritional properties. Finally, following the cooking cycle in the convection oven, controller 530 could instruct consumer 540 through consumer interface 560 to move the turkey from the convection oven to another conditioner 570, a grill. Controller 530 would operate the grill so as to grill the turkey for a sufficient period of time to create a desirable golden and crispy skin.
  • [0081]
    In the case where conditioner system 510 is a plurality of conditioners 570, it would also be possible for controller 530 to manage conditioners 570 within conditioner system 510 so as to produce a complete meal. For example, controller 530 could select conditioning protocols which would maximize the use of each conditioner 570. For example, in a meal comprising a turkey, home baked bread, and acorn squash, controller 530 could stage and operate the microwave oven, convection oven, and grill to minimize preparation time for the meal by determining which item should be cooked in which conditioner 570, in which order, to maximize usage of each conditioner 570 in conditioning system 510. In this example, while the turkey is being defrosted in the microwave oven, controller 530 could instruct consumer 540 through interface 560 to place the bread dough in the convection oven and the acorn squash on the grill. Following the defrosting of the turkey, when the turkey is moved to the convection oven, which finished baking the bread, the bread could be moved to the grill for browning, and the acorn squash could be moved to microwave oven to keep warm, until the entire meal is ready.
  • [0082]
    For example, if nutritional substance 520 is a ready-to-eat frozen dinner which needs to be heated by conditioner system 510, nutritional substance reader 590 would read a label on nutritional substance 520, provide it to controller 530. This information could include creation information as to the creation of the various components which constitute the ready-to-eat dinner. This information could include information about where and how the corn in the ready-to-eat dinner was grown, including the corn seed used, where it was planted, how it was planted, how it was irrigated, when it was picked, and information on fertilizers and pesticides used during its growth. Additionally, this information could include the cattle lineage, health, immunization, dietary supplements that were fed to the cattle that was slaughtered to obtain the beef in the ready-to-eat dinner.
  • [0083]
    The information on nutritional substance 520 could also include information on how the components were preserved for shipment from the farm or slaughterhouse on their path to the nutritional substance transformer who prepared the ready-to-eat dinner. Additional information could include how the nutritional substance transformer transformed the components into the ready-to-eat dinner, such as recipe used, additives to the dinner, and actual measured conditions during the transformation into the ready-to-eat dinner.
  • [0084]
    While such information could be stored on a label located on the packaging for nutritional substance 520 so as to be read by nutritional substance reader 590, provided to controller 530, and provided to consumer interface 560 for display to consumer 540, preferably, the label on the nutritional substance package includes reference information which is read by nutritional substance reader 590 and provided to controller 530 that allows controller 530 to retrieve the information about nutritional substance 520 from nutritional substance database 550.
  • [0085]
    Nutritional substance database 550 could be a database maintained by the transformer of nutritional substance 520 for access by consumers of such nutritional substance 520. However, preferably, nutritional substance database 550 is a database maintained by the nutritional substance industry for all such information regarding nutritional substances grown, raised, preserved, transformed, conditioned and consumed by consumer 540.
  • [0086]
    In an alternate embodiment of the present invention, controller 530, in addition to providing information regarding nutritional substance 520 to consumer 540, controller 530 also receives information from conditioner system 510 on how nutritional substance 520 was conditioned. Additionally, conditioner system 510 may also measure or sense information about nutritional substance 520 during its conditioning by conditioner system 510, and provide such information to controller 530, so that such information could also be provided to consumer 540, via consumer interface 560.
  • [0087]
    In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, controller 530 organizes and correlates the information it receives regarding nutritional substance 520 from the various sources of such information, including nutritional substance database 550 and conditioner system 510, and presents such information through consumer interface 560 to consumer 540 in a manner useful to consumer 540. For example, such information may be provided in a manner that assists consumer 540 in understanding how nutritional substance 520 meets consumer's 540 nutritional needs. It could organize information regarding nutritional substance 520 to track consumer's 540 weight loss program. Controller 530 could have access to, or maintain, information regarding consumer 540, so as to track and assist consumer 540 in meeting their specific nutritional needs.
  • [0088]
    In another embodiment of the present invention conditioner system 510 could be a plurality of conditioner devices which can be selectively operated by controller 530 to prepare nutritional substance 520. Conditioner system 510 can be either a single conditioning device, such as a microwave oven, conventional oven, toaster, blender, steamer, stovetop, or human cook. Conditioner system 510 may be a plurality of conditioners 570. In the case where a plurality of conditioners 570 comprise conditioner system 510, nutritional system 520 may be manually or automatically transferred between conditioners 570 for eventual transfer to consumer 540.
  • [0089]
    Nutritional substance reader 590 may be an automatic reader such as a barcode reader or RFID sensor which receives information from nutritional substance 520 or a reference code from nutritional substance 520 and provides this information to controller 530. Nutritional substance reader 590 might also be a manual entry system where the reference code for nutritional substance 520 is manually entered into nutritional substance reader 590 for controller 530.
  • [0090]
    Nutritional substance database 550 could be a flat database, relational database or, preferably, a multi-dimensional database. Nutritional substance database 550 could be local but, preferably, it would be located remotely, such as on the internet, and accessed via a telecommunication system, such as a wireless telecommunication system. Controller 530 can be implemented using a computing device, such as a micro-controller, micro-processor, personal computer, or tablet computer. Controller 530 could be integrated to include nutritional substance reader 590, consumer interface 560, and/or nutritional substance database 550. Additionally, controller 530 may be integrated in conditioner system 510, including integration into conditioner 570.
  • [0091]
    Consumer interface 560 can be implemented as a display device mounted on controller 530, conditioner system 510, or conditioner 570. However, consumer interface 560 is preferably a tablet computer, personal computer, personal assistant, or smart phone, running appropriate software, such as an app.
  • [0092]
    While conditioner module 500 can be located in the consumer's home, conditioner module 500 may be located at a restaurant or other food service establishment for use in preparing nutritional substances 520 for consumers who patronize such an establishment. Additionally, conditioner module 500 could be located at a nutritional substance seller such as a grocery store or health food store for preparation of nutritional substances 520 purchased by consumers at such an establishment. It could be foreseen that conditioner modules 500 could become standalone businesses where consumers select nutritional substances for preparation at the establishment or removal from the establishment for consumption elsewhere.
  • [0093]
    Additionally, controller 530 uses nutritional substance information provided by nutritional substance database 550 from reference information from nutritional substance reader 590 to dynamically modify the operation of conditioner system 510 to maintain organoleptic and nutritional properties of nutritional substance 520. For example, if the nutritional substance 520 is a ready-to-eat dinner, controller 530 could modify the instructions to conditioner system 530 in response to information regarding the corn used in the ready-to-eat dinner such that a temperature and cooking duration can be modified to affect the organoleptic, nutritional, taste, and/or appearance of the corn.
  • [0094]
    In an embodiment of the present invention, the label on nutritional substance 520 could contain the conditioning instructions for nutritional substance 520, or a reference to such conditioning instructions in nutritional substance database 550. In operation, this would allow nutritional substance ready 590 to obtain information nutritional substance 520 on how controller 530 dynamically operations conditioner system 510 to condition nutritional substance 520, without consumer intervention. Additionally, conditioning instructions for nutritional substance 520 could be provided for a variety of different conditions systems 510, or conditioners 570, and controller could select the proper conditioning instructions.
  • [0095]
    In a further embodiment of the present invention, nutritional substance reader 590 and/or conditioner system 510 measures or senses information about the current state of nutritional substance 520 and provides such information to controller 530 to allow controller 530 to dynamically modify operation of conditioner system 510.
  • [0096]
    In an additional embodiment of the present invention, consumer 540 provides information regarding their needs and/or desires with regard to the nutritional substance 520 to consumer interface 560. Consumer interface 560 provides this information to controller 530 so as to allow controller 530 to dynamically modify conditioner system 510 in the conditioning of nutritional substance 520. Consumer's 540 needs and/or desires could include nutritional parameters, taste parameters, aesthetic parameters. For example, consumer 540 may have needs for certain nutrients which are present in nutritional substance 520 prior to conditioning. Controller 530 could modify operation of conditioner system 510 so as to preserve such nutrients. For example, conditioner system 500 can cook the nutritional substance at a lower temperature and/or for a shorter duration so as to minimize nutrient loss.
  • [0097]
    Consumer 540 aesthetic desires could include how rare or well done they prefer a particular nutritional substance to be prepared. For example, consumer 540 may prefer his vegetables to be crisp or pasta to be prepared al dente. With such information provided by consumer 540 to consumer interface 560, controller 530 can dynamically modify operation of conditioner system 510.
  • [0098]
    In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, controller 530 receives information regarding the history of nutritional substance 520, current information on nutritional substance 520, and consumer 540 needs and/or desires, and dynamically modifies operation of conditioner system 510. For example, if nutritional substance 520 is a steak, controller 530 would receive reference information regarding the steak, nutritional substance 520, from nutritional substance reader 590. Controller 530 would use this reference information to obtain information about the steak from nutritional substance database 550. Controller 530 could also receive current information about the steak from nutritional substance reader 590 and/or conditioner 510. Additionally, controller 530 could receive consumer 540 preferences from consumer interface 560. Finally, controller 530 could receive information from conditioner system 510 during the conditioning of the steak, nutritional substance 520. Using some or all of such information, controller 530 would dynamically modify the cooking of the steak to preserve organoleptic, nutritional, and aesthetic properties to meet consumer 540 needs. For example, the steak could be cooked slowly to preserve iron levels within the meat, and also cooked to well-done to meet consumer's 540 taste.
  • [0099]
    FIG. 5 shows an embodiment of conditioning module 500 of the present invention. Conditioner system 510 receives nutritional substance 520 for conditioning before it is delivered to consumer 540. Controller 530 is operably connected to conditioner system 510. In fact, controller 530 may be integrated within conditioner system 510, although in FIG. 2, it is shown as a separate device. When conditioner system 510 receives nutritional substance 520 for conditioning, nutritional substance reader 590 either receives or references information regarding nutritional substance 520, an provides it to controller 530. In the case where nutritional substance 520 contains a label which includes information about nutritional substance 520, nutritional substance reader 590 reads this information, provides it to controller 530 and makes it available to consumer 540 by means of consumer interface 560.
  • [0100]
    In an embodiment of the present invention, conditioner system 510 comprises conditioner 570. Conditioner 570 is a conditioning apparatus which can perform a number of operations on nutritional substance 520, separately and/or at the same time. For example, conditioner 570 could be a combination microwave oven, convection oven, grill, and conventional oven. Controller 530 could operate conditioner 570 to execute a sequence of conditioning cycles on nutritional substance 520 to complete its conditioning.
  • [0101]
    For example, if nutritional substance 520 is a whole frozen turkey to be prepared for dinner, consumer 540 would place the turkey in conditioner 570, the combination cooking unit suggested above. Controller 530 would receive and/or create a protocol of conditioning cycles. Such a protocol could be read by nutritional substance reader 590 from a label on nutritional substance 520. Alternately, a protocol of conditioning cycles could be obtained from nutritional substance database 550 through reference information obtained by nutritional substance reader 590 by nutritional substance 520. For example, a label on the turkey, could be read by nutritional substance reader 590, providing reference information for the turkey which controller 530 uses to obtain a conditioning protocol for the turkey from nutritional substance database 550.
  • [0102]
    An example of such a conditioning protocol for a frozen turkey could be to operate conditioner 570, the combination cooking unit in the following fashion. First, controller 530 instructs conditioner 570 to use the microwave function of the combination cooking unit to defrost the turkey according to the protocol and possibly according to conditioner information provided by conditioner 570, such as the weight of the turkey and information regarding the defrosting process as measured by conditioner 570. Following defrosting of the turkey, controller 530 next instructs the combination cooking unit to operate as a convection oven to cook the turkey for a sufficient length of time so as to ensure that the turkey reaches the proper internal temperature to meet safety requirements, and to maximize organoleptic and/or nutritional properties. Following the convection oven cooking of the turkey, controller 530 could instruct the combination cooking unit to grill the turkey for a sufficient period of time to create a desirable golden and crispy skin. Finally, controller 530 could instruct the combination cooking unit to use all three cooking functions at the same time to prepare the turkey for optimal consumption.
  • [0103]
    Alternately, conditioner system 510 could be composed of a plurality of conditioners 570. While an automated system for moving a nutritional substance between such conditioners would be optimal, conditioner system 510 could be operated manually by consumer 540 from instructions provided to consumer interface 560. In this embodiment, controller 530 could provide consumer 540 with instructions as to where to move the turkey after each step in the conditioning protocol. In this example, controller 530 instructs consumer 540 through consumer interface 560 to first place the frozen turkey in conditioner 570, a microwave oven. Controller 530 instructs the microwave oven to defrost the turkey based on information possibly provided by nutritional substance reader 590, nutritional substance database 550 and/or conditioner 570. Upon completion of defrosting by the microwave oven, controller 530 could instruct consumer 540 through interface 560 to move the defrosted turkey from the microwave oven to another conditioner 570, a convection oven. Controller 530 would operate the convection oven to cooke the turkey for a sufficient length of time so as to ensure that the turkey reaches the proper internal temperature to meet safety requirements, and to maximize organoleptic and/or nutritional properties. Finally, following the cooking cycle in the convection oven, controller 530 could instruct consumer 540 through consumer interface 560 to move the turkey from the convection oven to another conditioner 570, a grill. Controller 530 would operate the grill so as to grill the turkey for a sufficient period of time to create a desirable golden and crispy skin.
  • [0104]
    In the case where conditioner system 510 is a plurality of conditioners 570, it would also be possible for controller 530 to manage conditioners 570 within conditioner system 510 so as to produce a complete meal. For example, controller 530 could select conditioning protocols which would maximize the use of each conditioner 570. For example, in a meal comprising a turkey, home baked bread, and acorn squash, controller 530 could stage and operate the microwave oven, convection oven, and grill to minimize preparation time for the meal by determining which item should be cooked in which conditioner 570, in which order, to maximize usage of each conditioner 570 in conditioning system 510. In this example, while the turkey is being defrosted in the microwave oven, controller 530 could instruct consumer 540 through interface 560 to place the bread dough in the convection oven and the acorn squash on the grill. Following the defrosting of the turkey, when the turkey is moved to the convection oven, which finished baking the bread, the bread could be moved to the grill for browning, and the acorn squash could be moved to microwave oven to keep warm, until the entire meal is ready.
  • [0105]
    For example, if nutritional substance 520 is a ready-to-eat frozen dinner which needs to be heated by conditioner system 510, nutritional substance reader 590 would read a label on nutritional substance 520, provide it to controller 530. This information could include creation information as to the creation of the various components which constitute the ready-to-eat dinner. This information could include information about where and how the corn in the ready-to-eat dinner was grown, including the corn seed used, where it was planted, how it was planted, how it was irrigated, when it was picked, and information on fertilizers and pesticides used during its growth. Additionally, this information could include the cattle lineage, health, immunization, dietary supplements that were fed to the cattle that was slaughtered to obtain the beef in the ready-to-eat dinner.
  • [0106]
    The information on nutritional substance 520 could also include information on how the components were preserved for shipment from the farm or slaughterhouse on their path to the nutritional substance transformer who prepared the ready-to-eat dinner. Additional information could include how the nutritional substance transformer transformed the components into the ready-to-eat dinner, such as recipe used, additives to the dinner, and actual measured conditions during the transformation into the ready-to-eat dinner.
  • [0107]
    While such information could be stored on a label located on the packaging for nutritional substance 520 so as to be read by nutritional substance reader 590, provided to controller 530, and provided to consumer interface 560 for display to consumer 540, preferably, the label on the nutritional substance package includes reference information which is read by nutritional substance reader 590 and provided to controller 530 that allows controller 530 to retrieve the information about nutritional substance 520 from nutritional substance database 550.
  • [0108]
    Nutritional substance database 550 could be a database maintained by the transformer of nutritional substance 520 for access by consumers of such nutritional substance 520. However, preferably, nutritional substance database 550 is a database maintained by the nutritional substance industry for all such information regarding nutritional substances grown, raised, preserved, transformed, conditioned and consumed by consumer 540.
  • [0109]
    In an alternate embodiment of the present invention, controller 530, in addition to providing information regarding nutritional substance 520 to consumer 540, controller 530 also receives information from conditioner system 510 on how nutritional substance 520 was conditioned. Additionally, conditioner system 510 may also measure or sense information about nutritional substance 520 during its conditioning by conditioner system 510, and provide such information to controller 530, so that such information could also be provided to consumer 540, via consumer interface 560.
  • [0110]
    In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, controller 530 organizes and correlates the information it receives regarding nutritional substance 520 from the various sources of such information, including nutritional substance database 550 and conditioner system 510, and presents such information through consumer interface 560 to consumer 540 in a manner useful to consumer 540. For example, such information may be provided in a manner that assists consumer 540 in understanding how nutritional substance 520 meets consumer's 540 nutritional needs. It could organize information regarding nutritional substance 520 to track consumer's 540 weight loss program. Controller 530 could have access to, or maintain, information regarding consumer 540, so as to track and assist consumer 540 in meeting their specific nutritional needs.
  • [0111]
    In another embodiment of the present invention conditioner system 510 could be a plurality of conditioner devices which can be selectively operated by controller 530 to prepare nutritional substance 520. Conditioner system 510 can be either a single conditioning device, such as a microwave oven, conventional oven, toaster, blender, steamer, stovetop, or human cook. Conditioner system 510 may be a plurality of conditioners 570. In the case where a plurality of conditioners 570 comprise conditioner system 510, nutritional system 520 may be manually or automatically transferred between conditioners 570 for eventual transfer to consumer 540.
  • [0112]
    Nutritional substance reader 590 may be an automatic reader such as a barcode reader or RFID sensor which receives information from nutritional substance 520 or a reference code from nutritional substance 520 and provides this information to controller 530. Nutritional substance reader 590 might also be a manual entry system where the reference code for nutritional substance 520 is manually entered into nutritional substance reader 590 for controller 530.
  • [0113]
    Nutritional substance database 550 could be a flat database, relational database or, preferably, a multi-dimensional database. Nutritional substance database 550 could be local but, preferably, it would be located remotely, such as on the internet, and accessed via a telecommunication system, such as a wireless telecommunication system. Controller 530 can be implemented using a computing device, such as a micro-controller, micro-processor, personal computer, or tablet computer. Controller 530 could be integrated to include nutritional substance reader 590, consumer interface 560, and/or nutritional substance database 550. Additionally, controller 530 may be integrated in conditioner system 510, including integration into conditioner 570.
  • [0114]
    Consumer interface 560 can be implemented as a display device mounted on controller 530, conditioner system 510, or conditioner 570. However, consumer interface 560 is preferably a tablet computer, personal computer, personal assistant, or smart phone, running appropriate software, such as an app.
  • [0115]
    While conditioner module 500 can be located in the consumer's home, conditioner module 500 may be located at a restaurant or other food service establishment for use in preparing nutritional substances 520 for consumers who patronize such an establishment. Additionally, conditioner module 500 could be located at a nutritional substance seller such as a grocery store or health food store for preparation of nutritional substances 520 purchased by consumers at such an establishment. It could be foreseen that conditioner modules 500 could become standalone businesses where consumers select nutritional substances for preparation at the establishment or removal from the establishment for consumption elsewhere.
  • [0116]
    Additionally, controller 530 uses nutritional substance information provided by nutritional substance database 550 from reference information from nutritional substance reader 590 to dynamically modify the operation of conditioner system 510 to maintain organoleptic and nutritional properties of nutritional substance 520. For example, if the nutritional substance 520 is a ready-to-eat dinner, controller 530 could modify the instructions to conditioner system 530 in response to information regarding the corn used in the ready-to-eat dinner such that a temperature and cooking duration can be modified to affect the organoleptic, nutritional, taste, and/or appearance of the corn.
  • [0117]
    In an embodiment of the present invention, the label on nutritional substance 520 could contain the conditioning instructions for nutritional substance 520, or a reference to such conditioning instructions in nutritional substance database 550. In operation, this would allow nutritional substance ready 590 to obtain information nutritional substance 520 on how controller 530 dynamically operations conditioner system 510 to condition nutritional substance 520, without consumer intervention. Additionally, conditioning instructions for nutritional substance 520 could be provided for a variety of different conditions systems 510, or conditioners 570, and controller could select the proper conditioning instructions.
  • [0118]
    In a further embodiment of the present invention, nutritional substance reader 590 and/or conditioner system 510 measures or senses information about the current state of nutritional substance 520 and provides such information to controller 530 to allow controller 530 to dynamically modify operation of conditioner system 510.
  • [0119]
    In an additional embodiment of the present invention, consumer 540 provides information regarding their needs and/or desires with regard to the nutritional substance 520 to consumer interface 560. Consumer interface 560 provides this information to controller 530 so as to allow controller 530 to dynamically modify conditioner system 510 in the conditioning of nutritional substance 520. Consumer's 540 needs and/or desires could include nutritional parameters, taste parameters, aesthetic parameters. For example, consumer 540 may have needs for certain nutrients which are present in nutritional substance 520 prior to conditioning. Controller 530 could modify operation of conditioner system 510 so as to preserve such nutrients. For example, conditioner system 500 can cook the nutritional substance at a lower temperature and/or for a shorter duration so as to minimize nutrient loss.
  • [0120]
    Consumer 540 aesthetic desires could include how rare or well done they prefer a particular nutritional substance to be prepared. For example, consumer 540 may prefer his vegetables to be crisp or pasta to be prepared al dente. With such information provided by consumer 540 to consumer interface 560, controller 530 can dynamically modify operation of conditioner system 510.
  • [0121]
    In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, controller 530 receives information regarding the history of nutritional substance 520, current information on nutritional substance 520, and consumer 540 needs and/or desires, and dynamically modifies operation of conditioner system 510. For example, if nutritional substance 520 is a steak, controller 530 would receive reference information regarding the steak, nutritional substance 520, from nutritional substance reader 590. Controller 530 would use this reference information to obtain information about the steak from nutritional substance database 550. Controller 530 could also receive current information about the steak from nutritional substance reader 590 and/or conditioner 510. Additionally, controller 530 could receive consumer 540 preferences from consumer interface 560. Finally, controller 530 could receive information from conditioner system 510 during the conditioning of the steak, nutritional substance 520. Using some or all of such information, controller 530 would dynamically modify the cooking of the steak to preserve organoleptic, nutritional, and aesthetic properties to meet consumer 540 needs. For example, the steak could be cooked slowly to preserve iron levels within the meat, and also cooked to well-done to meet consumer's 540 taste.
  • [0122]
    Conditioner system 510 can prepare a nutritional substance for consumer 540 which contains a plurality of nutritional substances 520. Conditioner module 500 includes recipe database 555 which is operably connected to controller 530. Recipe database 555 can be part of nutritional substance database 550, or it can be a stand-alone database. While recipe database 555 can be located locally, it is preferably accessible to many conditioner modules 500 through a telecommunications system such as the internet, including wireless telecommunications systems.
  • [0123]
    Controller 530 is also preferably connected to consumer database 580. Consumer database 580 may be additionally connected to consumer interface 560. Consumer database 580 could include consumer's 540 organoleptic and nutritional needs, and consumer 540 preferences. Consumer database 580 may receive input regarding consumer 540 from consumer 540, but could also include information supplied by consumer's 540 medical records, exercise records for the consumer's gym, and other information sources. Additionally, consumer database 580 could include information regarding consumer's 540 preferences provided by controller 530 for previous nutritional substance 520 conditionings. Finally, consumer database 580 could include consumer preferences from external sources such as restaurants and grocery stores where consumer 540 purchases nutritional substances 520. Finally, consumer database 580 could include information from consumer module 600, in FIG. 1.
  • [0124]
    Consumer database 580 could be a local database maintained by controller 530 and/or consumer interface 560. Preferably, consumer database 580 is part of a nutritional substance industry database containing such information regarding a plurality of consumers 540.
  • [0125]
    For example, controller 530 can operate conditioner system 510 to select the necessary ingredients, nutritional substance 520, to prepare a meal. In this case, nutritional substance 520 could be a plurality of nutritional substances 520. In operation, consumer 540 could select a dinner menu using consumer interface 560. Additionally, consumer 540 could select a specific recipe from recipe database 555 or could select a recipe source within database 555, such as low salt meals and/or recipes by a certain well-known chef Controller 530 could prepare a shopping list for consumer 540 through consumer interface 560. Alternatively, controller 530 could transmit a shopping list to a nutritional substance 520 such as a grocery store, so consumer 540 could pick up such items already selected or could have such items delivered.
  • [0126]
    Alternatively, if instructed by consumer 540 to utilize nutritional substances on hand, which have been logged into controller 530 through nutritional substance reader 590, controller 530 could modify or suggest a recipe that used only nutritional substances 520 available to conditioner module 500. For example, if consumer 540 instructs conditioner module 500 through conditioner interface 560 that consumer 540 would like Italian food in the style of a well-known Italian chef, controller 530 would utilize information in its various databases to prepare such a meal. In this case, controller 530 would match its inventory of available nutritional substances with recipes from the well-known Italian chef in recipe database 555 and find available recipes. Controller 530 could select a recipe that optimized consumer's 540 needs and preferences and prepare a meal using conditioner system 510. Alternatively, controller 530 could present various options to consumer 540 using consumer interface 560, highlighting features of each available meal from the standpoint of consumer's 540 nutritional needs and/or preferences.
  • [0127]
    In FIG. 6, nutritional substance database 550, recipe database 555, and consumer database 580 are part of nutritional substance industry database 558. Controller 530 would communicate with nutritional substance industry database 558 through a communication system such as the internet, and preferably a telecommunications system such as wireless telecommunications.
  • [0128]
    Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, throughout the description and the claims, the words “comprise,” “comprising,” and the like are to be construed in an inclusive sense (i.e., to say, in the sense of “including, but not limited to”), as opposed to an exclusive or exhaustive sense. As used herein, the terms “connected,” “coupled,” or any variant thereof means any connection or coupling, either direct or indirect, between two or more elements. Such a coupling or connection between the elements can be physical, logical, or a combination thereof. Additionally, the words “herein,” “above,” “below,” and words of similar import, when used in this application, refer to this application as a whole and not to any particular portions of this application. Where the context permits, words in the above Detailed Description using the singular or plural number may also include the plural or singular number respectively. The word “or,” in reference to a list of two or more items, covers all of the following interpretations of the word: any of the items in the list, all of the items in the list, and any combination of the items in the list.
  • [0129]
    The above Detailed Description of examples of the invention is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed above. While specific examples for the invention are described above for illustrative purposes, various equivalent modifications are possible within the scope of the invention, as those skilled in the relevant art will recognize While processes or blocks are presented in a given order in this application, alternative implementations may perform routines having steps performed in a different order, or employ systems having blocks in a different order. Some processes or blocks may be deleted, moved, added, subdivided, combined, and/or modified to provide alternative or sub-combinations. Also, while processes or blocks are at times shown as being performed in series, these processes or blocks may instead be performed or implemented in parallel, or may be performed at different times. Further any specific numbers noted herein are only examples. It is understood that alternative implementations may employ differing values or ranges.
  • [0130]
    The various illustrations and teachings provided herein can also be applied to systems other than the system described above. The elements and acts of the various examples described above can be combined to provide further implementations of the invention.
  • [0131]
    Any patents and applications and other references noted above, including any that may be listed in accompanying filing papers, are incorporated herein by reference. Aspects of the invention can be modified, if necessary, to employ the systems, functions, and concepts included in such references to provide further implementations of the invention.
  • [0132]
    These and other changes can be made to the invention in light of the above Detailed Description. While the above description describes certain examples of the invention, and describes the best mode contemplated, no matter how detailed the above appears in text, the invention can be practiced in many ways. Details of the system may vary considerably in its specific implementation, while still being encompassed by the invention disclosed herein. As noted above, particular terminology used when describing certain features or aspects of the invention should not be taken to imply that the terminology is being redefined herein to be restricted to any specific characteristics, features, or aspects of the invention with which that terminology is associated. In general, the terms used in the following claims should not be construed to limit the invention to the specific examples disclosed in the specification, unless the above Detailed Description section explicitly defines such terms. Accordingly, the actual scope of the invention encompasses not only the disclosed examples, but also all equivalent ways of practicing or implementing the invention under the claims.
  • [0133]
    While certain aspects of the invention are presented below in certain claim forms, the applicant contemplates the various aspects of the invention in any number of claim forms. For example, while only one aspect of the invention is recited as a means-plus-function claim under 35 U.S.C. §112, sixth paragraph, other aspects may likewise be embodied as a means-plus-function claim, or in other forms, such as being embodied in a computer-readable medium. Any claims intended to be treated under 35 U.S.C. §112, ¶ 6 will begin with the words “means for.” Accordingly, the applicant reserves the right to add additional claims after filing the application to pursue such additional claim forms for other aspects of the invention.

Claims (80)

  1. 1. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    conditioner for conditioning the nutritional substance; and
    transmitter for transmitting the source information after conditioning.
  2. 2. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    conditioner for conditioning the nutritional substance;
    sensor for obtaining conditioning information regarding the conditioning; and
    transmitter for transmitting the source information and conditioning information after conditioning.
  3. 3. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned; and
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information.
  4. 4. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information; and
    transmitter for transmitting the source information after conditioning.
  5. 5. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information; and
    transmitter for transmitting the source information after conditioning.
  6. 6. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information;
    sensor for obtaining conditioning information regarding the conditioning; and
    transmitter for transmitting the conditioning information and source information after conditioning.
  7. 7. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    detector for obtaining conditioning specifications;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information and the conditioning specifications; and
    transmitter for transmitting the source information after conditioning.
  8. 8. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    detector for obtaining conditioning specifications;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information and the conditioning specifications; and
    transmitter for transmitting the source information after conditioning.
  9. 9. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    detector for obtaining conditioning specifications;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information and the conditioning specifications;
    sensor for obtaining conditioning information regarding the conditioning; and
    transmitter for transmitting the source information and conditioning information after conditioning.
  10. 10. A conditioning system of claim 9 wherein said retriever comprises:
    identifier associated with a particular nutritional substance;
    information storage containing said source information referenced to said identifier; and
    locator for retrieving said source information for said particular nutritional substance from said information storage.
  11. 11. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein information storage comprises an electronic storage device or system.
  12. 12. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein information storage comprises a computer.
  13. 13. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein information storage comprises a computer database.
  14. 14. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein such an identifier is a human readable label.
  15. 15. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein such an identifier is a computer readable label.
  16. 16. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein such an identifier is a computer readable label comprising a barcode label.
  17. 17. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein such an identifier is a computer readable label comprising a OR code label.
  18. 18. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein such an identifier is a computer readable label comprising a radio frequency label.
  19. 19. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein such an identifier is a computer readable label comprising an electronically readable label.
  20. 20. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein such reader comprises an optical reader.
  21. 21. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein such reader comprises a radio frequency reader.
  22. 22. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein such reader comprises an electronic reader.
  23. 23. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein such information locator comprises a computer.
  24. 24. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 10 wherein such information locator comprises a database.
  25. 25. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 9 wherein said conditioner comprises a food processing system.
  26. 26. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 9 wherein said conditioner comprises an oven.
  27. 27. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 9 wherein said transformer comprises a microwave oven.
  28. 28. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 9 wherein said transformer comprises a fryer.
  29. 29. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 9 wherein said transformer comprises a steamer.
  30. 30. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 9 wherein said transformer comprises a computer controlled food processing system.
  31. 31. A conditioning system of claim 9, wherein said sensor comprises a chemical sensor.
  32. 32. A conditioning system of claim 9, wherein said sensor comprises a biological sensor.
  33. 33. A conditioning system of claim 9, wherein said sensor comprises a electronic sensor.
  34. 34. A conditioning system of claim 9, wherein said sensor comprises a mechanical sensor.
  35. 35. A conditioning system of claim 9, wherein said sensor comprises a combination of chemical, biological, electrical, and/or mechanical sensors.
  36. 36. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 9 wherein the means for obtaining conditioning specifications comprises:
    a consumer interface for receiving consumer specifications; and
    means for transmitting consumer specifications to conditioning means.
  37. 37. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned; and
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information.
  38. 38. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information; and
    transmitter for transmitting the source information after conditioning.
  39. 39. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information; and
    transmitter for transmitting the source information after conditioning.
  40. 40. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information;
    sensor for obtaining conditioning information regarding the conditioning; and
    transmitter for transmitting the conditioning information and source information after conditioning.
  41. 41. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    means for obtaining conditioning specifications;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information and the conditioning specifications; and
    transmitter for transmitting the source information after conditioning.
  42. 42. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    means for obtaining conditioning specifications;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information and the conditioning specifications; and
    transmitter for transmitting the source information after conditioning.
  43. 43. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining source information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    means for obtaining conditioning specifications;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the source information and the conditioning specifications;
    means for obtaining conditioning information regarding the conditioning; and
    transmitter for transmitting the source information and conditioning information after conditioning.
  44. 44. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 7 wherein the means for obtaining conditioning specifications comprises:
    a consumer interface for receiving consumer specifications; and
    means for transmitting consumer specifications to conditioning means.
  45. 45. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 7 wherein the means for obtaining conditioning specifications comprises:
    a consumer interface for receiving consumer specifications;
    a recipe information storage information system;
    a selection means for obtaining recipe information in response to consumer information; and
    transmitter for transmitting recipe information to conditioning means.
  46. 46. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 7 wherein the means for obtaining conditioning specifications comprises:
    a consumer interface for receiving consumer specifications;
    a recipe information storage information system;
    a selection means for obtaining recipe information in response to consumer information; and
    transmitter for transmitting consumer specifications and recipe information to conditioning means.
  47. 47. A conditioning system for nutritional substances comprising:
    retriever for obtaining nutritional, organoleptic and/or aesthetic information regarding a nutritional substance to be conditioned;
    detector for obtaining conditioning specifications;
    conditioner for adaptively conditioning the nutritional substance according to the nutritional, organoleptic and/or aesthetic information and the conditioning specifications;
    sensor for obtaining conditioning information regarding the conditioning; and
    transmitter for transmitting the nutritional, organoleptic and/or aesthetic information and conditioning information after conditioning.
  48. 48. A conditioning system of claim 47 wherein said retriever comprises:
    identifier associated with a particular nutritional substance;
    information storage containing said nutritional, organoleptic and/or aesthetic information referenced to said identifier; and
    locator for retrieving said nutritional, organoleptic and/or aesthetic information for said particular nutritional substance from said information storage.
  49. 49. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein information storage comprises an electronic storage device or system.
  50. 50. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein information storage comprises a computer.
  51. 51. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein information storage comprises a computer database.
  52. 52. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein such an identifier is a human readable label.
  53. 53. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein such an identifier is a computer readable label.
  54. 54. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein such an identifier is a computer readable label comprising a barcode label.
  55. 55. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein such an identifier is a computer readable label comprising a OR code label.
  56. 56. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein such an identifier is a computer readable label comprising a radio frequency label.
  57. 57. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein such an identifier is a computer readable label comprising an electronically readable label.
  58. 58. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein such reader comprises an optical reader.
  59. 59. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein such reader comprises a radio frequency reader.
  60. 60. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein such reader comprises an electronic reader.
  61. 61. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein such information locator comprises a computer.
  62. 62. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 48 wherein such information locator comprises a database.
  63. 63. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 47 wherein said conditioner comprises a food processing system.
  64. 64. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 47 wherein said conditioner comprises an oven.
  65. 65. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 47 wherein said transformer comprises a microwave oven.
  66. 66. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 47 wherein said transformer comprises a fryer.
  67. 67. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 47 wherein said transformer comprises a steamer.
  68. 68. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 47 wherein said transformer comprises a computer controlled food processing system.
  69. 69. A conditioning system of claim 47, wherein said sensor comprises a chemical sensor.
  70. 70. A conditioning system of claim 47, wherein said sensor comprises a biological sensor.
  71. 71. A conditioning system of claim 47, wherein said sensor comprises a electronic sensor.
  72. 72. A conditioning system of claim 47, wherein said sensor comprises a mechanical sensor.
  73. 73. A conditioning system of claim 47, wherein said sensor comprises a combination of chemical, biological, electrical, and/or mechanical sensors.
  74. 74. A conditioning system for nutritional substances according to claim 47 wherein the locator for obtaining conditioning specifications comprises:
    a consumer interface for receiving consumer specifications; and
    transmitting for transmitting consumer specifications to conditioning means.
  75. 75. A method of dynamically conditioning a nutritional substance comprising the steps of:
    obtaining source information regarding the nutritional substance;
    obtaining conditioning instructions for the nutritional substance;
    modifying the conditioning instructions using the source information.
  76. 76. A method of dynamically conditioning a nutritional substance of claim 75 wherein the conditioning instructions are modified so as to preserve nutritional, organoleptic and/or aesthetic value of the nutritional substance.
  77. 77. A method of generating nutritional information for a conditioned nutritional substance comprising the steps of:
    obtaining source information regarding the nutritional substance;
    obtaining conditioning information for the nutritional substance;
    calculating any change in nutritional information using the source information and the conditioning information.
  78. 78. A method of generating nutritional information of claim 77 wherein calculating the change includes calculating any change nutritional, organoleptic and/or aesthetic value of the nutritional substance.
  79. 79. A method of estimating a change in a selected nutritional, organoleptic, or aesthetic value of a nutritional substance following conditioning comprising the steps of:
    retrieving at least two of a source information, dynamically generated information, and
    currently observed information regarding a selected nutritional value of a nutritional substance to be conditioned; and
    obtaining a conditioning specification for conditioning the nutritional substance; and
    calculating a value associated with the change in the selected nutritional value using at least two of said source information, said dynamically generated information, said currently observed information, and said conditioning specification.
  80. 80. A method of estimating a change in a selected nutritional, organoleptic, or aesthetic value of a nutritional substance following conditioning according to claim 79 further comprising the steps of:
    providing information regarding the calculated value for local or remote review.
US13485866 2012-04-16 2012-05-31 Conditioning system for nutritional substances Pending US20130269537A1 (en)

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US201261624788 true 2012-04-16 2012-04-16
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US13485866 US20130269537A1 (en) 2012-04-16 2012-05-31 Conditioning system for nutritional substances
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US14044851 US9080997B2 (en) 2012-04-16 2013-10-02 Local storage and conditioning systems for nutritional substances
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US14286627 US9497990B2 (en) 2012-04-16 2014-05-23 Local storage and conditioning systems for nutritional substances
US14306111 US9069340B2 (en) 2012-04-16 2014-06-16 Multi-conditioner control for conditioning nutritional substances
US14466824 US9460633B2 (en) 2012-04-16 2014-08-22 Conditioner with sensors for nutritional substances
US14466805 US9564064B2 (en) 2012-04-16 2014-08-22 Conditioner with weight sensors for nutritional substances
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US14860340 US20160180739A1 (en) 2012-04-16 2015-09-21 Local storage and conditioning system for nutritional substances
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US15276736 US9892657B2 (en) 2012-04-16 2016-09-26 Conditioner with sensors for nutritional substances
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