Milestone 1: Concept Proposal
For the scope of this project, our team focused on systems that would reduce the effort required to cook by adding more assistance and guidance throughout various aspects of the cooking process (grocery shopping, preparation, sharing). The target audience is young adults, ages 18-30, who live in a residence where they share a kitchen with others. The problem that we aim to solve within this scope is to help young adults who want to cook fresh, healthy food but find it can be difficult, time-consuming, and leads to unused produce and waste. The systems that we propose helps young adults achieve these goals by providing assistance in the cooking process, ultimately reducing the expertise and effort required to cook healthy meals, as well as negative aspects of cooking like wasting food or purchasing expensive items.
When defining the scope, our team discussed some challenges that we may face. First, we may struggle with collecting a lot of user data as a result of Covid-19 since much of our scope focuses on the inside of people's homes (their kitchens). However, we live with other people and have friends who share kitchens, so we believe we can obtain a sufficient sample of user research in a safe way. Additionally, we want to ensure that the system we develop is differentiated from other products on the market. There has been significant advances in the segment of smart home appliances, so when creating our solution, we will be proactive in researching existing products. We are confident that our proposed concepts have innovative, new ideas that are different from those in market.
Motivation & Preliminary Observations
In order to increase our understanding about young adults who share a kitchen, we conducted some preliminary observations. We observed kitchen spaces that are shared among people, such as young adults with roommates, to see how they interact and utilized resources during meal preparation.
The main challenges that we noticed that young adults face while sharing a kitchen were:
Lack of coordination of purchases with roommates, leading to increased waste and expired products
Preference to eat out/take in to avoid the process of purchasing and cooking
Found it too difficult to prepare own meals due to time constraints or lack of knowledge
There were some shortcomings with our observation due to the COVID-19 situation. We were not able to observe the same sites together as a team. Additionally, due to the pandemic there might have been a shift in people's eating habits which could have influenced our observations.
The first part of our ideation process was to collect and collaborate, each group member made observations and thought of possible concepts individually. Collaboratively, we determined our concept based on our insights and brainstormed ideas. Once we compiled a list of ideas, we reviewed and rated our ideas to determine which ideas to move forward with. Our key insight was that young adults want to cook fresh food but find that it can be difficult, time consuming and leads to a lot of unused produce and waste. So, in order to reduce the effort required to cook by adding more assistance or guidance throughout the entire cooking process. Once we defined the scope, we each sketched our main three concept ideas, which include: smart garden, smart store and inventory tracker, and a recipe assistant. After each member finished their sketches we reviewed the sketches, talked about similarities and differences, and made adjustments to our three main concepts.
Concept 1: Smart Garden
The smart garden concept proposes a solution that will optimize both physical infrastructure and the use of an application. Our goal for this concept is that it will make indoor home gardening a breeze for every space and lifestyle by providing resources to track and maintain gardens. The physical infrastructure for the smart garden is comprised of the garden itself, fixtures (lights, boxes, etc.), sensors (to detect levels of pH, moisture, light exposure, etc.), and an automated system for lights, watering, and solution. Through embedding sensors and automated systems into the garden, people are provided more assistance in maintaining the garden and ensuring proper growth of items. The application complements the physical infrastructure and can be used for monitoring, reminders, recipes, and additional resources, ultimately creating a system that eases the learning curve and long-term process for gardening. Although the smart garden may require some initial effort on behalf of users to set up, the solution is intended to help reduce the long-term effort and expertise needed to sustain healthy gardens. This way, people can utilize fresh produce in a cost-effective manner to promote healthier long-term eating habits and join together with roommates or family members to share the garden and its produce.
Physical infrastructure (vertical garden)
Concept 2: Smart Store/Inventory
The Smart Store - Inventory Tracker concept would serve as both a physical infrastructure and an app. The goal of the Smart Store - Inventory Tracker would be to aid young adults in keeping track of their grocery store purchases as well as coordinate their purchases with their roommates. This will lead to users saving money and reducing their food waste. The physical infrastructure would be a checkout machine in participating grocery stores. When arriving at the checkout machine, the user's app would sync up with the scanners. The machines would use cameras and scanners to track the users' purchases. The scanned items would automatically compile in the app. Within the app, in addition to purchases being tracked, users would be able to log their consumption of items in order to know when they need to be replaced. The app would also allow you to mark ingredients as "sharable" or "personal." Items marked as sharable will be visible to your roommates on the app. This way, you can see if one of your roommates just bought bananas for the apartment, you know that you don't also need to buy some, ultimately leading to a reduction of food waste.
Physical infrastructure (Checkout Scanner)
Concept 3: Recipe Assistant
The recipe assistant- The user often has their hand occupied while cooking, which makes it difficult to scroll through the recipe to keep up with it. The recipe assistant would serve as a physical infrastructure, which would be a hand free solution that uses sensors to detect where the user is in the cooking process and adjust the recipe accordingly. It would also use voice assistance that would make it easy for the user to cook while being guided. In case they have any questions in the process, the VA would answer it for them. Since the solution uses a display as the physical infrastructure, it would allow the user to choose where to connect it like the oven display. This tool would make it easy for the user to save their favorite recipe and any adjustments they make to it. It would let the user share the recipe with their friends and family, while also giving them the option to cook with them.