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ÓSK Squirrel

An Open Smart Kitchen (OSK) assistant for saving resources and meeting dietary goals by better utilizing the food you squirrel away

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Whether squirrel or human, the food cycle of foraging, stashing, preparing, consuming, sharing and foraging again is a complicated, time-consuming process. Coordinating with the whole family makes for some dramatic chatter.

There needs to be a “hub” that can process data locally that gives users control and respects user privacy. An open solution needs to be created before big business dominates the kitchen.

We are working on a software framework that will run locally on a smart kitchen device. While we will provide an example hardware device, we hope others can use this framework to hack the kitchen with networked devices from the pantry to the fridge.

CHALLENGE:

The food cycle consumes our time and attention across a range of touch points. This food cycle  directly impacts how we plan what to eat, where we purchase food, how we store items, how we share our food, and our health and well-being.

The challenge is to provide a hub which enables users to better manage the food in their lives.  This hub is a physical device that hosts a framework for managing the food cycle. We will work on a nominal hardware system and create a software framework that can integrate with other pantry inventory management and recipe software.

GOAL:

We aim to create an example of a minimally viable product that serves as a host device for a lightweight, open source framework for kitchen IoT devices.  We want our device to serve as an example of what could be created and used as a template for other devices.  Our key contribution is actually the software framework that will tie different projects together.  We don't want to recreate another load cell based smart container or another app for grocery lists (though these are cool and useful--- we just want to connect them all together to be more useful!).  We want to create a common interface layer for these smart kitchen products to tie them all together in a useful system.

Forming a bridge between sensors and advanced computing algorithms to connect with users must be accomplished in a private, convenient way. Any such approach needs to provide practical solutions to food lifecycle management. Part of the challenge is to explore which emerging sensors and computer technologies can aid the process.

DESIGN PHILOSOPHIES:

  • Any “solution” that requires changing user habits or enforcing a specific routine is not a solution. Flexible and adoptable systems are necessary to satisfy the needs of different people. 
  • While a hackable API should be made available for advanced users, the basic device should improve the life of a neophyte (a technologically challenged squirrel).
  • The kitchen is a complicated and dynamic environment with a scurry (multiple) of users, thus information should be shareable.
  • Products should be designed to give users control over their own data and objectives.

BACKGROUND:

Often technology which simplifies the grocery shopping process is created by businesses who gather user data. While some businesses strive to provide convenient shopping list building and inventory tracking applications, they really profit off of  user data.  Such data gathered about a user's behavior patterns is used to maximize the business's profits, rather than genuinely improve the user's quality of life and related objectives. (Convincing you to buy another donut may be profitable for them, but not good for you!)

CANDIDATE SOLUTION:

Create a “hub” that can process product data locally that gives users control and respects their privacy.  An open solution needs to be created before big business dominates the kitchen.

For example, the Nvidia Jetson Nano is a candidate for affordable, local, high end data capture and processing.  Such a small, energy efficient GPU-enable platform could allow for the data to be kept in a private network without a requirement to use a remote server for data processing.

PRIOR ART:

As Isaac Newton paraphrased “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” There have been several previous projects that have attempted to improve or automate part of the...

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  • 1 × Nvidia Jetson Nano GPU-enabled, quad-core ARM development board

  • Design Thinking Exploration 2: Define

    ManyHats07/29/2019 at 21:37 0 comments

    The next step in design thinking is Define. We spent time trying to further define the problems in the kitchen based on the Empathize step.  Define is determining users' needs, their problem and related insights.

    Some of the things we came up with:

    • Overworked and tight-budget users need an assistant to help save money and time because they want to take advantage of sales but don't have enough time to run all over the place to a bunch of different stores.

    • Environmentally conscious chefs want ways to prevent waste of food and waste of food packaging to help them feel like they are contributing to saving the environment. 

    • Parents needs help making quick cooking decisions when they're hungry so they can avoid the pitfalls of making decision that don't meet their goals.

    • People want group collaboration/input in meal planning, help in making menu decisions to that the family can enjoy what they eat and actually be able to sit down together and eat.

    • Parents need fast and easy shopping assistance because bringing the kids to the store is difficult. Speeding up the food shopping and delivery processes is important.

    • Shoppers need notification when products are used up by others. They are not the only one consuming the product and don't necessarily know when items are consumed/emptied.

    • Cooks with restricted diets need an assistant to help stick with their diet so they can be healthy and live longer.

    • Cooks with small space need to remember what is in the pantry so they have enough of the ingredients to cook specific recipes.

    • Cooks want fast and easy meals to save money be eating out less and purchasing less prepared foods.

    Cooks need some way to track what is consumed (eaten or spoiled) so that they have up-to-date information on what's available in the pantry.

  • Technical Log: Software Structure

    ManyHats07/28/2019 at 20:28 0 comments

    As we began prototyping, we wanted to create a scalable software architecture.

    Each smart kitchen contains smart gadgets (appliances, pantries, etc.). Each smart gadget is composed of one or more devices (cameras, weight sensors, humidity sensors, etc.). These devices all store some data and can act either as an input and/or output for the gadget.  

    Different gadgets in the OSK ecosystem can talk to each other, but they cannot directly access another gadget's device. If data needs to be shared, the appropriate API should be incorporated into the host device's logic.

    This is our diagram for the gadgets.  Software development has started, but is still very minimal as we want to keep the framework flexible at this stage. More information can be found on our Github.

  • Design Thinking Exploration 1: Empathy

    --marc05/21/2019 at 00:39 0 comments

    As we start playing with, testing the Jetson Nano, we are also trying to understand how this technology fits in the kitchen by conducting a mini design thinking exercise.  The first step in design thinking is Empathy. We spent time understanding the different habits, attitudes, and problems experienced in the kitchen.

    Common themes were: variety, health, inspiration/recommendation, time, budget, waste, privacy, and social.

    Our three key takeaways are:

    1. While food underpins everything we do (we need energy to work, play, and create), people often dread spending excessive amount of time in the kitchen.

    2. People strive to eat and live healthy lives, but often trade a healthy diet for convenience.

    3. Though people feel bad creating extra waste (excess packaging, forgotten leftovers, and rotten fruits), chefs make choices that save time and money in the short term in an effort to reduce stress in the kitchen.

    We've included photographs from our brainstorming sessions and a text summary of our findings.  Click the Read More link below if you're interested.

    Is there anything else you think we should add?

    We would love your input.

    Read more »

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