YOUR toast pops up with a strange pattern burned into it. Pointing your phone's camera at the pattern pulls up a website showing the day's traffic news for your commute. Later, as you're wondering how to make a spring roll, you notice the instructions are etched into the rice paper itself.
These are just a couple of the applications of "laser cookery" envisaged by Kentaro Fukuchi and colleagues at Meiji University in Japan. They reckon laser cutters have done their time in industry and, like 3D printers before them, it's now time for them to come into our homes - as a new breed of laser-enabled kitchen appliances.
At a cookery technology workshop in Nara, Japan, in November, the researchers showed how a benchtop industrial laser cutter - normally used to cut or engrave patterns in plastic, wood and metal - could generate a variety of fascinating foodstuffs when hooked up to a computer running graphics software and a webcam.
One delicacy they have developed is the charmingly named "melt-fat raw bacon", an allegedly tasty sliver of uncooked bacon on which the fat is cooked by the laser, using a webcam trained on the bacon to guide the beam. "The well-cooked fat and the fresh taste of the meat can then be experienced at the same time," says Fukuchi. Don't all rush at once.