Disruptions

What’s Cooking? Ambient Technology in the Kitchen

With vast research and development in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), we are entering into a new era of human and machine interactions. As processing and analytical capabilities become more robust, several new intelligent systems and applications are being designed. These intelligent applications along with sensors, multiple wearable devices and other examples of computer efficacies are leading towards yet another technological era of Ambient Intelligence (AMI). The article “Living with Ambient Intelligence: So at Home with Technology” gives an introduction to AMI and explains how it will impact our daily lives.


Mark Weiser, widely considered to be the father of ubiquitous computing, once said, “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it”.


Ambient Intelligence is highly appreciable for its easy and interactive capabilities. It uses Human Computer Interaction (HCI) as one of its building blocks, in which people use their voice, gestures, body movements, facial expressions, location etc. in order to interact with the technology.

One of the most important aspects of AMI is it understands the context of surroundings. The ability to ‘sense’ interactions between humans and technology plays a key role. AMI aggregates inputs like data, images, videos etc. from sensors and other devices, interprets according to the context and draws intuitive conclusions that are personalized to the user.

AMI Kitchen Scenario
AMI Kitchen Scenario

A kitchen provides great opportunity for ambient technology. With the help of integrated gadgets like smart refrigerators, smart ovens and more, an AMI system could give it a complete makeover. Let’s consider a scenario from an AMI enabled kitchen where our host Alice wants to celebrate her father’s birthday. She interacts with the AMI system and it starts working in the background to come up with the best suited intelligent options for Alice.

Scenario

  1. At 7 pm, when Alice reaches home, she is pleasantly surprised to hear that her parents and sister are visiting on the occasion of her father’s birthday
  2. At 7.05 pm, AMI system suggests several options for a birthday treat
    • It searches the social media and finds lots of pictures of Alice and her sister Brenda cooking together
    • Takes note that her dad loves Thai food, is allergic to peanuts and Brenda is on a gluten-free diet
    • It suggests ordering a Thai dinner and baking a gluten free mango sponge cake
  3. At 7.10 pm, AMI scans nearby restaurants specializing in Thai cuisine and orders dinner taking into consideration his dietary restrictions (so no green papaya salad which contains peanuts)
  4. At 7.12 pm, AMI system starts working on the preparations for the cake
    • AMI checks refrigerator and pantry for ingredients of the cake and orders the missing ones through online mart and intimates Brenda to come home little early in order to help Alice bake
    • AMI recommends and searches the wine cellar to get the perfect wine that goes well with the Thai cuisine
    • AMI also pinpoints the exact location of the bottle in the wine cellar
  5. At 7.50 pm, the cake ingredients are delivered, Brenda reaches home and the two sisters start preparing the cake with step by step guidance provided by the AMI system
    • AMI system senses that Brenda is new to the kitchen and guides her in finding the required utensils and ingredients for the cake
  6. At 8.20 pm, Alice receives delivery of the dinner
  7. At 8.30 pm, everyone enjoys a great meal
  8. At 8.40 pm, AMI system turns the oven off when the cake is ready and alerts Alice to take it out from oven, suggesting the use of oven mittens
    • When the cake is ready, AMI dims the lights and plays the happy birthday song

Let’s look at the sequence of the above events in a pictorial way,

AMI in the kitchen is a simple example of how it can facilitate us in our day to day life. The applications can vary from surprising our loved ones in an informal environment to creating a great driving experience on the roads, to a smooth check out in a retail store, to a stress free assistance being provided to your elderly parents. From building smart offices, cities and schools and hospitals, the possibilities of AMI are immense and very promising.