From Glitzy to Robot-icky
From Glitzy to Robot-icky
May 23, 2021
By Anurag Yadav
Wherever will the desire to up the act take the simple act of cooking in a kitchen?
Despite the fears of being called out as a spoilsport or even a relic, this has got to be said. The contemporary fitted kitchen workflow, so fondly imaged in futuristic scenarios largely consists of assembling dishes from pre-prepared selections provided by food manufacturers. It has been pointed out by experts that ‘the contemporary fitted kitchen has arguably less to do with actual function or efficiency in the production and consumption of food, and more to do with the consumption of the fitted kitchen itself’.
To counter that static development of form over function and also to introduce more ‘ease of functioning’ in the food preparation area, quick-fix solutions are set to turn more hi-tech.
The robot has always fascinated popular imagination. In the kitchen, it presents a still more fantastic option but raises still more apprehensions since food and eating are extremely personalised affairs and consumers balk at being subjected to an assembly line service of such a significant part of their life.
A professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University and founder of a company that created a buzz a few years back with the incorporation of robotics in food preparation said that the key to their robotic kitchen is the hood that encapsulates the unit, and what it contains.
Sceptics were indeed very curious about how a machine could step into the shoes of as subtle a zone as a chef’s mind. Ideally, according to that science, ‘any system that tunes itself to such a technology will align with a service that will provide pre-prepared ingredients in containers that the robot can access to make what is needed’. This presupposes a standardised menu and any suggestions of individual taste can take a back seat.
An Indian company, not very unlike the ‘jugaad’ sentiment but in a much more enhanced, subtle and scientific temperament sought to tackle this issue. The company, according to its release, built a wooden prototype about the size of a large gas hob with a rotating drum filled with spice canisters, three induction plates, and little robotic protrusions that wield spatulas and volumetric cups. The machine can prepare around 30 different vegetarian dishes with minimal human intervention. This includes rice, dal and a sabzi that can be cooked simultaneously in about 40 minutes.
The idea behind this simplistic solution lies in the fact that in almost 90% of all cooking in India, we just drop, stir, and heat (possibly fry as well for good effect). If that process can be maintained, a huge chunk of the cooking process can be automated.
Despite the enthusiasm such contraptions( for want of a better word) raise, the finicky angle of preparing a meal that satisfies the individual seems to be lost on the highway of scientific jargon, appeal and imagination.
The glitzy images of modern kitchen design shush many into silence but perhaps a kid might need to call out that the emperor’s haute couture isn’t what it is touted to be and he is indeed just not wearing any clothes.
"The idea behind this simplistic solution lies in the fact that in almost 90% of all cooking in India, we just drop, stir, and heat (possibly fry as well for good effect). If that process can be maintained, a huge chunk of the cooking process can be automated."