The ongoing technologization of our society and thus also our daily lives leads to many new developments within the private living space. Taking a closer look at the meaning of the kitchen, it is revealed that it still is the heart of each house and cooking will also play an important role in peoples’ everyday lives in the future.
In collaboration with BSH Home Appliances GmbH I explored the potential of new technologies and new ways of interacting for the everyday cooking process.
My Bachelor project INCU is a concept for an innovative digital assistant for the kitchen which is based on a projected interface onto the kitchen worktop. It enables an augmented cooking experience with social exchange and supports the user in his organizational kitchen tasks.
Supervision: Prof. Matthias Edler-Golla
(University of Applied Sciences, Fakulty of Design)
My work: User research, app concept, user testing, low and high fidelity prototyping, interaction concept, interface design, food photography, filming and editing of a concept video
Time Scope: March – July 2018
How might an engaging augmented cooking experience be designed so that it is integrated seamlessly into the users’ daily lives in the long run?
Which difficulties do people have to deal with in the kitchen, which routines are part of their everyday lives? How do they manage their kitchen inventory? Which role does technology play in their kitchen and during cooking? There were many questions in the first phase of the project.
To find out more about the behaviour and the needs of the target group I conducted a quantitative online survey and some qualitative interviews about user behaviour in the kitchen and during cooking.
Clustering all the collected information by topics was useful to frame the pain points and needs of the user group and formulate insight statements.
Cooking by recipe often causes stress due to confusing structure and the wrong timing.
Exchanging recipes with friends and family adds value by giving motivating and receiving feedback.
The lack of work space and a big amount of work steps during cooking interrupts the workflow and and leads to stress.
A lack of overview about stored food and bad planning leads to a big amount of food waste.
Because many people don’t want to plan and prepare their meals in advance, they consume fast food and develop bad eating habits.
As cooking is a ritual of deceleration, the majority of people is fully concentrated on the cooking process and doesn’t look for other entertainment except auditory one like listening to music.
As the target group for the product was oriented towards one of the main target groups of BSH, I explored different possible use cases of the appliance and how it could add value to the cooking experience of this specific group.
Based on my former user research, I found out that there are two tendencies in the user behavior of the target group:
Active users who would enjoy being involved in social exchange, creating content and sharing recipes with friends
Passive users who mostly prefer to stay in the background, use the application as a source of food inspiration but don’t like to share recipe content
With this observation in mind, I identified different use cases and edge cases, focusing on one central use case that covers the whole cooking process from finding recipe inspiration, preparing the meal and sharing successful recipes with friends.
Together with some engineers of the team we ideated about the different functions the application could possibly offer to ensure a delightful and improved cooking workflow. We prioritized them by usefulness for the target group and technical feasibility.
The final concept of INCU is based on the idea of creating an intuitive interface between the human being and the kitchen. It is not about automizing the cooking experience but instead about optimizing the workflow and relieving the user by offering smart tools. INCU forms the basis for a sustainable and healthy nutrition and a more conscious way of living.
The application is built on four main components:
- Providing healthy and tasty food inspiration
- Offering an augmented and smart cooking assistance
- Serving as an organizing tool for meals, the inventory and recipes
- Enabling social exchange about food and recipes
PROTOTYPING, WIREFRAMING AND TESTING
I went through an iterative prototyping and testing process with various test users of different age and state of knowledge.
INCU was meant to be a projection-based interface on the kitchen worktop – enabling a largely unknown way of interaction in the kitchen. Thus I also had to consider the arising ergonomic requirements for a medium like this.
Paper Prototyping with my first wireframes helped me to identify the main issues concerning ergonomics:
Which amount of information is appropriate for a display area that – at first glance – seams quite large in relation to the viewing distance?
How does the displayed content appear from an oblique viewing angle with differing ambient light conditions?
How should the displayed content and control panels be arranged so that the user could not cover important content with his hands and arms while interacting?
What text size and control panel size is required to ensure optimal readability and usability?
Enabling multimodal ways of interaction with INCU was crucial for an environment as complex and demanding as the kitchen. Ambient noise caused by kitchen appliances, busy and dirty hands during cooking and changing positions and locations ask for flexible interaction methods that adopt to the users circumstances.
- Basic interaction
- Reliable fallback when problems with voice and gesture control occur
- mainly used for tasks excluding cooking (organizing tasks and when accessing inspirational content)
VOICE WITH AUDIO FEEDBACK
- mainly used during cooking when the graphic interface is out of reach
- useful during cooking when hands are busy or dirty
- applicable for spontaneous queries and commands, e.g. sitting at the dining table and asking INCU to switch off the oven
- contactless control useful during cooking with dirty hands
The design concept aims for an optimal visual integration of the projected interface into the kitchen environment in order to achieve a seamless transition from reality to digital content. For this reason, I chose a transparent background and created realistic and simple food photos as the central visual element of the application.