When little robots burst on to our screens to the tune of the "Hamburger Rhumba" in the (some would say) "classic" hit 1987 film, "Batteries Not Included", the idea of robots in the kitchen seemed like a very strange and alien concept. Fast forward a few (35) years later and artificial intelligence is well on its way to making itself at home among our slow cookers and air fryers. In this article, we look at some of our favourite AI kitchen inventions.
Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, a robot's your man.
First up.the Samsung Bot Chef. The Samsung Bot Chef made its debut at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show back in 2019. Samsung markets the Bot Chef as a "Co-bot", or collaborative robot, which works alongside you in the kitchen. The Bot Chef is capable of a wide range of tasks, from making cups of coffee and chopping up onions (no more tears, yay!) to following a complex, personalised recipe. What's more, the Bot Chef will even clean up afterwards. The Bot Chef's robotic arms have six degrees of freedom and are capable of handling existing, day-to-day, kitchen equipment. The Bot Chef's complex array of sensors also ensures it will work with the "head chef" in a co-operative, and safe, way. For example, if the Bot Chef is chopping, it will identify an approaching "co-chef" and either slow down or stop what it is doing. Further, if the Bot Chef can't find something, it is capable of asking for help. While the Bot Chef is probably a little out of the price range of most non-commercial kitchens, it's exciting to see this level of innovation in the kitchen environment from Samsung and we can't wait to see what comes next!
From top-end robotic chefs we turn to the most accessible of the AI kitchen helpers.the Kroger Chefbot. Chefbot is an AI Twitter tool with a mission to reduce food waste, something we have no problem supporting. In exchange for a picture, or list, of up to 3 ingredients, Chefbot will return a whole host of recipes. For example, tweeting @krogerchefbot "mushrooms, pumpkin, spinach" returns some great autumnal recipes such as vegetable orzo with pumpkin sausage and pumpkin quinoa stuffed portabellas. We went for the pumpkin quinoa stuffed portabellas and we were very pleased with the results. Chefbot is able to identify nearly 2,000 ingredients and has a bank of almost 20,000 recipes at its disposal. While there are still perhaps some teething issues, in particular in relation to Chefbot's response time, what do we love about Chefbot, other than its cheeky grin, is that it provides a simple and effective way not only to reduce our domestic food waste but to also reduce our cost of living (of ever increasing importance right now).
Continuing on the topic of reducing food waste, next up we have AI enabled fridges. Both LG and Samsung have added AI capabilities to some of their existing smart fridges. The LG InstaView ThinQ fridge and the Samsung Family Hub are capable of checking the contents of the fridge and using this information to suggest meal ideas or recommend what you might want to restock. The new generation of the Samsung Family Hub fridge makes use of Whisk, a smart food platform, to provide personalised recommendations. Whisk is capable of looking at the local weather (who wants a salad in winter?) and what foods are currently in season. Whisk also considers user inputted preferences, such as dietary requirements and allergies. You can even select some of your favourite recipes to give Whisk an idea of what you like best. The LG InstaView ThinQ provides a real time inventory of what is in your fridge, letting you know you're low on milk before you wake up and realise you don't have enough milk for your morning cup of tea. While still an expensive option, nevertheless with the fridge being the keystone of all kitchen appliances, and with the obvious utility in reducing food waste (while reducing the burden on us both to make and remember shopping lists!), we see real potential for AI-enhanced fridges becoming a more widely installed appliance.
Finally, we couldn't write an article on AI in the kitchen without mentioning the world's first fully robotic kitchen from Moley. When we say kitchen, we mean kitchen. The Moley Robotic Kitchen is not simply a robot that works in your kitchen, it is an entire network of cabinets, robotic limbs and kitchen appliances, coupled with a comprehensive library of recipes. While the robotic limbs do require some level of food prep from the user, this can easily be bypassed by Moley's home delivery service which delivers food items ready to be used. With this level of capability, it is only to be expected that the robotic kitchen should be able to clean up after itself, but actually this kitchen goes a step further and uses UV to fully disinfect worktops, as well as the air in the cooking zone. While this may sound like quite a complex system to run, the Moley Robotic Kitchen comes with an easy-to-operate GUI where you can instruct the kitchen or even ask it where a certain kitchen appliance is - no more searching through the drawers for the one "good knife"!
While we may be a little while away from robots fully taking over kitchens, we love seeing the positive changes AI is making in the food and drink space. Through platforms such as Chefbot, we see real potential for AI to help lower food waste, allowing us to reduce our environmental impact while also lowering our cost of living.
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