Image analytics and IOT in the last place you'd expect: The Kitchen
Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), today’s household appliances are so smart that entire houses can be automated. Lights can be turned on or off, TV shows can be recorded and room temperatures adjusted with the touch of a single button. On the home security front, image analytics can be integrated into surveillance cameras or fingerprint-enabled door locks.
Yet despite the increasing prevalence of IoT and image analytics, the kitchen has yet to benefit from these developments. Most appliances are one-off devices for a single use case.
But imagine for a second that kitchen appliances got a digital makeover. Imagine if your home oven or fridge came with a camera, internet connection and image analytics pre-installed. What sort of impact could that have on our day-to-day lives?
Kitchens for the everyman
Great food is usually reserved for (a) professional chefs and stay-at-home caretakers with time to perfect their craft, or (b) families who can afford the luxury of dining out every night.
But this need not be the case. With a simple upgrade, kitchens with smart appliances can fix a challenge facing home cooks everywhere – standardised cooking that incorrectly assumes one size fits all – and help even novice chefs produce delicious meals every day.
Most recipes don’t account for differences in appliances which could affect variables such as temperature and cooking time. Research by scientists from N.C. State University studied almost 1,500 recipes from 29 cookbooks from a Best Sellers list and found that 99.7% of recipes gave unreliable, subjective metrics to indicate when a meal was cooked correctly.
A smart oven takes the guesswork out of cooking. Using image analytics, a camera-enabled oven could guess that you have, for instance, a whole chicken in the oven and suggest the best technique for your chosen recipe. Take it one step further, and you could even tell your oven to cook your meal for you. Using the ingredients’ colour and the appliance’s default settings as reference, a smart oven can identify what an under- or over-cooked meal looks like, and optimise the process from start to finish to ensure your dish turns out just right.
A recipe for better eating habits
Cooking good, healthy food takes valuable time and effort. To put food on the table, you could spend hours a week making grocery lists, buying the ingredients and preparing them – all before you even startcooking it. As a result, we compromise the quality of our diets and opt for ingredients with longer shelf lives (thanks to preservatives) or recipes with faster cooking times, such as microwaveable meals.
Smart kitchen appliances could take the burden of decision-making off individuals and onto the appliances itself. And it’s not just limited to ovens. Using image recognition technology, fridges can shorten the time spent managing meals and even pair with smartphone applications. Detecting when ingredients need restocking, instantly updating grocery lists and alerting users about expiry dates are just some of the tasks that smart appliances can perform to improve diets.