A kitchen spectrometer
This was a housewares assignment for my product design class. After reading about mini spectrometers that came out on the market in the last few years I explored the possibilities of how they could be used. While mini spectrometers are being applauded as a way to identify dangerous allergens in a food (peanuts or wheat) or the calorie content in a meal I thought about how they could help someone understand food chemistry while baking.
A spectrometer reads only the surface of a substance so there are limitations to what it can identify- it can't probe beneath a pastry crust to identify a pie filling, for example. However, identifying ingredients and evaluating freshness is possible because the chemical signature of food changes slightly as it ages. It is also possible to monitor a substance for changes by taking multiple scans in a series.
For someone new to baking the kitchenScope can help navigate a tricky recipe. For a baking professional the kitchenScope lets them tweak recipes by checking the freshness of ingredients and predicting flavor profiles.
Information is delivered in a hierarchy based on user's needs. Identification and immediate actions are first, followed by more detailed information about the food chemistry.
A 3 sided touch screen makes kitchen scope ambidextrous and helps the user read directions when the scope is lying on a surface.
UPDATE MARCH 27:
KitchenSCOPE was an assignment for my product design class in February and this week the Target corporation posted news about using spectrometer scans on produce to evaluate freshness! It's one of the concepts coming out of Target's collaboration with IDEO + MIT– a multi-year project called the Food + Future coLab.
"A second concept, aimed at providing real time nutritional information, allows people to scan fruits and vegetables, learn the exact nutritional value and then pay based on freshness."
I am delighted that one of my user need predictions (ingredient freshness) is being realized and can't wait to see what else coLab and Target will do with it.. Read the full article here: