Innovation for Independence

Managing the kitchen environment (simplifying the controls on kitchen appliances, by controlling the programmes wirelessly)

Publish date:
16/01/2015 - 12:46am
Last updated:
23/01/2015 - 1:41pm

This is a development of an idea that I had in 2013, aged 13, and that I used in the Bosch Technology Horizons Award. I have further worked on this idea with my mother, and my brother who has severe cerebral palsy. My idea is to simplify the controls on kitchen 'white goods' like the washing machine and the oven so that all the end user has to do is press a start button - there would be no selecting programmes from an assortment of controls. On the washing machine, the actual programme would be selected or easily changed if necessary on a smartphone or communication device. This would be done by the user or the carer in advance. The full range of current washing programmes would still be avaliable, but preselected on the app. In the case of the oven, the meal would be put into the oven cold. There would be a scanner on the door that would read a bar code on the product. When the oven door is closed, the oven would heat up, cook the meal to the manufacturers instructions and at the end of cooking, would automatically take the temperature down to a safe handling temperature. The oven would then wirelessly communicate with a television, radio or AAC device to inform the user that the meal was ready to take out of the oven and eat, with a verbal or written message rather than a confusing beep! Once the meal is removed, then the oven would automatically switch off.

Insight & Impact

The inspiration behind my idea was my Great Grandmother who I used to visit as a little girl. As she became older and more forgetful, she found that she was overwhelmed by the choices of programmes on her washing machine, that she would forget that she had something in the oven until is was burnt or the smoke alarm had gone off, and the microwave had so many buttons that she did not want to use it at all. My disabled brother would also hugely benefit from a technology where he could control his environment from his touch screen AAC device as he does not have the muscle coordination and strength to turn the dials on the kitchen appliances. This technology could be applied to any appliance with multiple options in the kitchen like the microwave, bread maker and the tumble drier as well as the oven and washing machine. This technology would enable people like my great grandmother and my brother feel more empowered and confident about managing some aspects of independent living. The device could even send a message to a carer or family member to let them know that the meal had been cooked and removed, and possibly even be the basis of a reordering system to restock the fridge or freezer at a later date.

Skills needed for this project

  • Application development for smart devices and touchscreens and AAC devices
  • Software writing
  • Hardware development
  • Product design and manufacture
  • Market research and AAC skills as I'm 14 and rather nervous about getting it right
  • Advertising