Recipease: Interactive Kitchen Table

20 04 2009

Hey guys! Know I’ve not been blogging for a looong time… mainly because I’ve been busy working on projects at school and exams are around the corner. However, thought I should just put up a quick post about one of my projects, Recipease, a project I worked on as part of the CS3248: Design of Interactive Media module. What we did was create a multi-touch table that is supposed to show a concept of how major problems faced by people during the food preparation process can be reduced.

Before I say more, here is a video demonstration of our table.

Yup so that’s about it in short! Promise to update this post with more information later. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the project / engineering behind it, etc etc do feel free to either e-mail me or leave comments here. I promise to follow-up on it as soon as my exams are over!

And oh yea, do let me know what you think of it as well in terms of concept, interface and interaction design, functions, or even the actor! Thanks for watching! ^__^

Update:
Thanks for all the encouraging and positive comments guys! Really appreciate them. As promised, here is the follow-up with more information about the project.

Our assignment requirement is to take any existing electronic appliance or propose a new one that would solve a problem or make a house chore easier. The problem we set out to solve was that faced by users in the kitchen.

Before we built this, we performed some surveys and interviews to identify the common problems that caused people anxiety during both food preparation and cooking. Our user group consisted both of young adults and housewives, including both novice and expert cooks. Based on the list of problems gathered, we came up with 3 primary functions:

Use Case: Our primary use case is where a person, has some ingredients in his fridge but do not want to crack his head thinking what he can cook with them. He wants a system that can tell him what he can cook based on what he has or feels like eating (sometimes you may have fish and chicken but only feel like eating chicken).

1) Ingredient Recognition
Problem it solves:
- trouble of not recognizing what user has especially with ingredients user hardly purchase
- unsure of what user can cook with what he/she has

2) Recipe Recommendation
Problem it solves:
- saves trouble of thinking about what he can cook
- widens choice of recipes user can cook. Not limited to only what the user knows
- informs users of which ingredients are missing
- if user is cooking more than one dish, system notifies of whether there is enough for both dishes combined

3) Recipe Scaling
Problem it solves:
- most recipes available are based on the assumption that users are cooking for one diner. However, sometimes users throw parties/gatherings that require preparing a dish for more people.
- able to tell user whether he has enough for a gathering and if not, how much of which ingredient is missing

Our user testing of the table after it was built showed that this concept does help in reducing the anxieties users felt during food preparation and pre-cooking. Glad that those of you who have seen the video felt the same as well.

About the module
Got a couple of e-mails asking whether this module teaches students how to build a touch table. The answer is no, but in fact the professor (Prof Zhao ShengDong) made it better than that. What he did was he made the assignment very open-ended, with the only requirement being to come up with a concept that will make a house chore easier for a user. This can be a new electronic appliance or an improvement of an existing invention. It is totally up to students how they want to implement/show their idea. Hence you have students building touch tables, interactive screens that utilize the Wii mote and even remote controls for house appliances using the cell phone. In other words, this module does not teach or spoon feed you on how to do things but rather create an environment that encourages students to experiment. How much you learn depends on how much time and energy you invest into your idea. Having said that, Prof Zhao will be constantly keeping track of the progress of projects and is a great resource of how to go about your project and who to approach for further advice.

The Team!

This is my crazy team who just can’t stop making me laugh while working throughout the project. Somehow we never fail to do something really silly which we’ll be stuck at for hours before suddenly encountering an “Eureka!” moment. Lots of silly things happened during video filming as well, like someone’s handphone ringing and ingredients rolling off the table.

Back row (from left) : Teong Leong, Joel a.k.a Kar Meng, Jeremy Wong
Front row (from left) : Me! , Yiyang

Concluding words
This was a really fun project which made me realize how fun research can potentially be. I used to shun away from it thinking it was for n3rds but came to realize it can turn out to be pretty cool especially if you’re working on a fun project within your scope of interest. Would really love to thank my Prof Zhao for making CS3248 a really fun module and encouraging us to go on with our ideas!

How to build a touch table?
Got a lot of questions about how my team built the touch table and all the various programs we used. I’m currently in the process of writing a step by step tutorial on it and will upload it within the next 2-3 days! In the meantime, look out for it! ^_~

Update: The tutorial is done. Check it out here :D

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24 responses

20 04 2009
Veera

Hey Su Yuen,

This looks great! How does it detect and identify the vegetable that is placed on the table? Is it a regular table you are using or is there some special coating or surface treatment on it? And what is the system setup like? Using projectors and stuff?

Sorry, have lots of questions, hope you can answer them.

Cheers,
Veera

21 04 2009
bitbot

Hey Veera!
For the ingredient detection part, it is actually coded into the system because current image recognition technologies are very limited. We put it in as a proof of our concept for the future when image recognition technology / RFID tags are much more rampant.

What we are using is a regular glass table. Our setup is just a normal piece of glass on a stand, with a projector and webcam underneath it. We put a piece of tracing paper on the glass to diffuse the light coming from the projector for display.

In short, projector shoots image onto glass from the bottom. Tracing paper difuses the light from projector for display. Webcam tracks shadow blobs from beneath glass table and send signals to computer.

21 04 2009
seok mei

nice job, su yuen and team =D
i love the creativity and tons of work must have went behind the scenes.
Well done!

22 04 2009
Alvin Lai

Now, if your table could weigh each individual piece, I’d buy one today! :D

22 04 2009
Gordon

Suyuen! Great Job! But if you wanna patent it, you shouldn’t place it on the blog right? =) Impressed by your team!

22 04 2009
Wilson

Haiz, you are a year too late… XP
Microsoft kinda did this, they call it microsoft surface. They use it as restaurant table though… But haha, great concept

23 04 2009
Madhu

Hey Su Yuen! i came bak to ur blog after long.. and as usual ur blog never fails to amaze me.. great job! the manner in which u implemented the touch screen system was pretty good.. u make me wanna take the module!! :D

23 04 2009
Kelvin

We have that the M$ kitchen of the future here

24 04 2009
jiinjoo

LOL – does anyone in the team actually cook! :D

well done!

24 04 2009
Yee Hoong

Heyy this is awesome!!! Congrats on your milestone.

25 04 2009
Chen Chow

Su Yuen, congratulations on your invention/innovation!!! Am sure you will go very far in life!

25 04 2009
aidilgoh

hey great concept.

i notice theres something on your finger. is it part of the setup?

How I see this will work in kitchens of the near future is that the setup must be cheap to produce and does not require large spaces to operate. Maybe using OLED screens instead of a projector or LED screen can help this be done.

Also, the optics that are used can be set up in an array and thus providing for a shorter distance between camera(s) and screen. OR use altogether

On the detection of which vegetables are what… the challenge is to detect the colour, the shape, weight and smell. Us humans can differentiate vegies by using a combination of these elements… so how to replicate that in a computing system?

I think you are already aware that microsoft’s surface uses optical tagging/ fiducial tracking for objects e.g. phone, glass, bottles etc. To put tags on perishable items like veggies…now thats a whole new ball game ;)

great to see you guys on a very interesting concept. might help a lot of us to cook better!

btw, join us at nuigroup.com :)

25 04 2009
aidilgoh

Oops, I left out the sentence after the camera part hanging….

I was meaning to say, use a multitouch capable overlay screen.

Oh, and I noticed that you used tbeta from nuigroup

So see you guys in the nuigroup forums then :D

26 04 2009
bitbot

@seok mei, @Alvin Lai, @Yee Hoong, @Chen Chow, @Kelvin:
Thanks for the kind comments!

@Gordon: Haha to tell you the truth, when we built this, we were aiming more for having a good time and learning something while showing our idea. Never really thought about patenting it.. it is after all just a concept :)

@Wilson: Yea I saw Microsoft’s restaurant table.. the one they implemented at some bar. Really cool interaction piece.. I wonder whether it is spicing up the whole social environment at the bar.

@Madhu: Haha the module is fun but it won’t teach you how to make a touch table.. the module’s focus is on interaction design. For this semester’s assignment, we are supposed to take an existing house appliance or come up with a new one, and show how it can make a housework/chore easier for residents at home. So as you can see, it is quite an open-ended project where you can do anything you want within the scope.

@jiinjoo: Yes, if I’m not wrong I’m the only kitchen dummy in my team (how embarassing ^^:;;).. 2 of them are master chefs themselves

@aidilgoh:
Wow thanks for the very comprehensive comment! Do you build touch tables yourself too?

Nope, the thing on the finger is not part of the setup. The screen will work perfectly without it.

When we came up with this concept, we are foreseeing a future where either:
1) RFID tags will be commonplace (food packagings would have RFID tags)
2) Advanced image recognition technology (maybe the use of a colour histogram combined with shape recognition)

29 04 2009
zhaosd

I am the instructor for CS3248. You guys really did a great job for this project and the class.

It’s really a nice video.

Here is a soft advertisement for a class I will be teaching for next term: The Design of Advanced User Interfaces. This is a class where students will work individually or in pairs for interesting HCI projects. Probably on real multi-touch tables, iPod touches, and some other platforms I haven’t decided yet. It will require both programming, design, and experiments, but it will be fun and challenging. I will encourage you to give it a try.

Also, CS3248 for next year (spring 2010) will be better, so please sign up if you are interested.

4 05 2009
How I Lost Thirty Pounds in Thirty Days

Hi, interesting post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting. I’ll definitely be subscribing to your blog.

5 05 2009
Building a Touch Table 101 « Bits & Bytes make a Bitbot

[...] a Touch Table 101 5 05 2009 As promised, here is the article on how my team and I built our interactive kitchen table step by step with all the details from hardware to software. Note that this is just ONE of a few [...]

6 05 2009
How I Was Able to Lose Thirty PĆ³unds in Only a Month

Hi, nice post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for posting. I will certainly be subscribing to your blog. Keep up the good work

16 05 2009
aidilgoh

Hi bitbot :)

yeah, I’ve been building very basic FTIR screens at my studio.
Keep it up!

7 08 2009
ann

Hi,

I am currently writing my thesis for my Masters in Interactive Media from the University of Limerick, Ireland. I find your work very interesting and have mentioned it in my dissertation. The reason I am writing to you is that I was looking for permission to use images from your site please.

Thanks,
Ann

8 08 2009
bitbot

Hi Ann! Yes, please do go ahead and use any pictures you see fit. Good luck for your thesis! :D

12 08 2009
WE, FYP, Startup and Halo :D « Mind of Bitbot

[...] Unfortunately the only experience I have with NUI is my little, amateur-ish, out of the garage interactive kitchen table. Would be really interesting to hear how the pros go about the innovation [...]

30 05 2010
indymag.net

Small appliances necessary for all the efforts necessary for the work necessary for the house takes. I am also extremely efficient and cost-effective and instrumental in reducing fatigue and stress. Their small size, minimal power consumption and a reasonable price makes them an irresistible deal any time a new device on the market. While the house can be full of these places points conveniently located close to sale of electricity, making the workload easier.

1 03 2012
Maryjo Iino

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