Inspiration

Most of us Cook , but unfortunately most of the time we spend while cooking is by doing nothing. That's because we keep waiting in the kitchen so that the dish doesn't get overcooked and spoil our meal plans. This is what led to me thinking that why not build a system that plugs onto an existing gas knob and automates the cooking for you, so there's one thing off of your mind.

Also, there are so many times that I forget to turn the gas knob off when the dish starts smoking. This will set my smoke alarm off and I have to drop what I'm doing then to attend to this. All of these are problems which can have a simple and once for all fix are what have inspired me to take up this project.

Another inspiration is that the solution does not require the replacement of an entire gas stove. This is not only a economically more viable option, but also is ecofriendly and very easily scalable because the userbase could be potentially everyone who does some amount of cooking.

What it does

The system built here works with an app or a web Interface which offers the user recipes, which the user can select and based on which the smart knob is programmed to function such that the food is cooked at a particular temperature for an exact amount of time as specified in the recipe. This will result in the same outcome each and every time you make the dish, something I have longing to do forever now. I'm glad I'd be able to do it now. :)

It also sends a notification to you once the dish is done, so cooking can no longer be considered a chore. :)

It interacts with the smoke detector at your house, so that when there is a smoke alarm, the gas knob returns to the off position, thereby avoiding any mishap, when you are not around.

How I built it

The basic system is built around a particle photon which communicates with the particle cloud that functions as a webhook that is written in json. In addition to this, the photon drives a micro servo (which serves as a gas knob in the demo), and controls the rotation as per the configured recipe.

There are three leds, which perform the function of flame level indicators, and these are also driven by the photon.

The photon is also hooked up with a temperature sensor, that monitors the temperature constantly and uploads the data to the thingspeak cloud. This data can be visualized as a chart indicating the temperature variations of the dish to help you cook better.

Also, the data that is uploaded to the cloud, has information about the number of times you forgot to turn the knob off, which can be a metric for caution to be exercised in the kitchen.

Challenges I ran into

The two big challenges were getting the particle to communicate with the app that I built with MIT app inventor. The webhooks worked intermittently and would not configure the photon with the correct recipe always.

Another challenge was trying to integrate the system with Alexa, so the user can request for recipies through voice commands. I ran into a lot of issues with this one because the API for creating custom skill for alexa were in nodeJs and I had very limited knowledge of the language. So I spent a lot of time debuggin the functionality issues of the application.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I built an App , a web interface and an end to end prototype all in one day. That meets all my goals for this hackathon, because I have had zero experience with all of the above until today. But now, I feel confident that I can convert any Idea into a prototype, which for me is a confidence booster, and I'm proud of it.

What I learned

App development, Web development, rapid prototyping

What's next for Smart Gas Knob

It can be extended to work with other appliances such as a washer and dryer, as similar problems exist there.

Also, the data that is uploaded to the cloud, has information about the number of times you forgot to turn the knob off, which can be a metric for caution to be exercised in the kitchen.

A lot of interesting analytics can be run from the data that the device uploads to the cloud such as you can interface this data with a fitness app that can automatically take in the number of calories you have had based on the recipe that you have cooked without user intervention by configuring necessary parameters as serving size etc.,

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