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This project is still in progress and is expected to debut at 2018 IACP in New York on February 23... Please check back in the coming weeks for any updates

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WORK

BENTON HUMPHREYS

Precision Cooking

Simple. Precise. Cooking.

INTRODUCING PRECISION COOKING

2 Team Members:

 

Chris Naber (Engineer)

Benton Humphreys (Designer)

Duration: 3 months

Location: FirstBuild

 

 The Precision Cooking System simplifies the most challenging variables associated with cooking. Using connected technologies, the system can determine the optimum time and temperature at which to bake, boil, or cook based on recipe-specific guidelines. This project was introduced to me in late Fall of 2017 by FirstBuild, a co-creation design company focused on community and collaboration. The general concept had been delivered and tested, yet there was a clear lack of consideration for user-interaction, experience, and aesthetics. Working from a rudimentary concept, I was able to generate a more fulfilling and satisfying experience for the end user of the Precision Cooking System - from start to finish.

COOKING INSIGHTS AND CONCERNS

INSIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES

WHAT'S OUT THERE?

 After exploring current options for precision cooking, there was a clear target area to design for. Products that were versatile enough to be used throughout the kitchen lacked the ability to be used remotely, and those that can communicate remotely were typically constrained to only certain aspects of cooking - be it confined in an oven or used only for certain applications like sous vide.

PRODUCT VISION WITHIN VBL

 Designing for FirstBuild meant that the product would need to aesthetically fit into the FirstBuild family of products. I acquainted myself with FirstBuild's current product lineup and color schemes, and identified other products that showed characteristics of the VBL. Minimal color schemes with an accent color to highlight a usability feature is a common element with the products. Additionally, FirstBuild promotes its ability to manufacture products in-house, often providing "evidence" of this by including artificial machining marks and geometric textures.

VISUALIZING A CONNECTED COOKING EXPERIENCE

 Storyboarding provided critical insight into possible solutions for the issue of connected cooking. Key aspects for providing a successful and satisfactory user experience revolved around providing real time feedback of cooking temperatures and times, assisted cooking via guided recipes, and improving safety features via alarms and alerts - all in a familiar and convenient method. We decided to connect a user to this information by a common probe that hooked into a bluetooth receiver that relayed to connected devices (phones, tablets, or appliance interfaces).

INITIAL IDEATION

This project is currently in progress as of 1.28.2018 and is expected to be debuted at 2018 IACP in New York on February 23... Please check back in the coming weeks for the final product!

tactile feedback

usability accent colors

subtle touchpoints

EXPANDING PRECISION COOKING

WITH


PRECISION BAKING

 

 

There are three main components to Precision Baking: the pan, the probe, and the probe alignment tool. In the interest of simplicity of usability and manufacturing, it was decided that the pan would have one slot cut out to allow the probe to be inserted at a set height. The probe holder would be a silicon pad that had the dual purpose of securing the probe at the desired height, and sealing the pan so that it would not leak.

 

Designs began with the probe holder, as it was the component most responsible for the success and satisfaction of user experience.

 

 

PROCESS

 The initial idea was presented to me as a rudimentary concept: the probe holder would be a silicon pad with 5 placement holes for setting the probe at different heights. In order to adjust the probe to the correct height, the user must initially guess and place the probe in the holder before filling the pan with batter, forming a tight seal. This presented a problem to the user should they need to adjust the probe after pouring the batter. Resetting the probe involved firstly removing it (and therefore breaking the seal), sliding the holder horizontally, then resetting the probe. This method proved to be cumbersome and limiting. After a few hours of ideation, I proposed a "dial" concept. This concept solved the issue with maintaining a sealed surface while adjusting the probe height, as well as addressing other usability concerns.

USABILITY TESTING

 Usability testing soon followed once the initial design was conceived. The goal of this testing was two-fold: first, it was to reaffirm that the dial concept was indeed an improvement over the current rectilinear design; and second, it was necessary to gain critical insights from would-be users before pursuing either idea any further. Users were first primed on the concept and use of Precision Baking, and told how each probe holder functioned (all while remaining vague enough that the user would be able to interact with each object on their own terms). After an initial introduction, users were asked to select the probe holder that caught their attention on first impression. They were then tasked with answering a questionnaire that consisted of before-use questions (initial perception) and after-use questions (post-perception).

Overall impressions were very positive, yet concerns with proper sealing and seating of the alignment tool on the pan were prevalent.

 

Working from these insights, our engineer developed a complex surface geometry for the pan-side of the holder. This surface geometry provides enough flexibility for the alignment tool to properly adhere and seal to the side of the pan. To promote the sense of precision and confidence in the Precision Baking system, a center pin was added to the magnet to act as a pivot.