Kitchens of the Not Too Distant Future

Imagine it’s the not-too-distant-future, and you’re at home and hungry. You decide to cook dinner, so you say “Hey Google, what can I make tonight?” (Or Alexa, but Google Home emerged victorious in my Epic IoT Battle). Your phone and a fridge-mounted screen suddenly display a list of meals that you can prepare. Each meal is based on the number of servings you need, the available ingredients you have in your fridge and pantry, and your personal preferences.

Once you’ve committed to a meal choice, the voice assistant will talk you through the preparation. First, it will help you find all your ingredients in the fridge and on the shelves, with a mixture of voice and visual indicators. If any IoT appliances are involved, it can assist in operating them. For example, it can pre-heat the oven. It will talk you through the recipe, step by step, and offer video guidance if available. After you’re done, you can rate the recipe.

As an added bonus, you’ll never have to make a shopping list again. Pre-select what you want to eat over the next few weeks, and your kitchen will build your shopping list for you based on what you have and what you need. And if it were up to Amazon, they’d just deliver what you need automatically within an hour.

How can we make this a reality? Here’s the recipe!

Hardware Ingredients

There are a few major hardware pieces required, and Amazon or Google are the front-runners for pulling it off.

  • 1 Google Home or Alexa voice assistant
  • 1 Tablet running on the same OS as the voice assistant (probably Android)
  • Cameras set up to see every shelf in the fridge/freezer/pantry
  • Scales for each shelf. Coupled with cameras, they can identify and weigh food stock.
  • Odor sensors. Is something rotten?
  • Smart oven/stove top, microwave, toaster, rice cooker, smoke detector, etc. (optional)

Google Home is actually ahead in the voice assistant race, as she can already suggest recipes and remember your favorite food (if you tell her). But Amazon already deployed the technology to track fridge/pantry stock in their super cool checkout-less Amazon Go market. So with a few cameras and scales connected to Echo, they can also retrofit it to the home.

Software Directions

This is the part where Google and Amazon have created a massive barrier to entry for any startup interested in pulling off a smart kitchen ecosystem. Here’s how they can do it before anybody else can:

  • Create a common OS that can communicate via voice/video with the user as well as with all the IoT appliances, cameras, scales, and screens. (Android)
  • Develop extensive machine learning capabilities to visually identify and track food stock, especially produce and meats. Combine visual data with weight data to increase precision. (Again, Amazon Go does this. And Google’s Neural Network can already read my mind.)
  • Combine records of the purchase date with any nasty odors detected to identify rotten food.
  • Build a massive database of UPC’s or SKU’s for packaged foods. (Amazon and Google already have the two largest UPC/SKU databases in the world.)
  • Create a standard open recipe software format that automatically generates a Gantt chart and optimizes preparation time for the number of cooks and appliances in the kitchen. The recipe format should reference a universal database of ingredients with nutritional values. Hey! Amazon and Google haven’t done this yet!
  • Develop a natural, user-friendly process to generate recipes. It’ll really help the format gain traction.
  • Launch a recipe marketplace with revenue sharing to further accelerate user adoption and recipe creation.
  • Implement a Netflix-like recommendation algorithm to figure out what everyone’s food preferences are. (This could also produce some really interesting health data for the medical industry).
  • Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Enjoy!