Kitchen Hacks: Microwave plays YouTube videos matched to your cooking time

Behold the uWave, a microwave oven that plays YouTube videos while it cooks. [Kevin] and three classmates at the University of Pennsylvania developed the project for the 2011 PennApps hackathon. It uses a tablet computer to replace the boring old spinning food display microwaves are known for. Now, an Arduino reads the cook time and sends that information to a server via its Ethernet shield. The server then searches YouTube for a video that approximately matches the cooking time, then pushed that video to the tablet to start playing. The video demonstration embedded after the break shows this, as well as the tweet that the machine sends at the beginning of the process.

It’s an interesting concept, and we think the code used to push a video to the tablet has a lot of other applications (we’re keeping this one bookmarked). On the other hand, we wonder how long it will take for public microwaves to become ad-supported? We’re thinking it’s hard for companies selling antacids, acid reflux medicine, Cup ‘o Soup, and Hot Pockets to resist this opportunity.

Comments

  1. Edward T. says:

    Loving this idea.

  2. aztraph says:

    OMG I WANT THIS!!!

    not

    really people? Give me an augmented reality display or something. show me a thermal image of the food to make sure it’s getting done evenly. SOMETHING!

  3. slacking says:

    @aztraph that would be an awesome hack.. kitty movies don’t quite cut it for me either but hey if they like it then good for them.

  4. Kuy says:

    I would have thought that this wouldn’t work – the field strength emitted by a microwave oven a few centimeters from its door (particularly where the door meets the rest of the enclosure) is usually strong enough to completely block out Wi-Fi – it’s often several watts of energy in Wi-Fi’s frequency band, whereas Wi-Fi devices themselves typically only transmit at fractions of a watt.

    The induced currents from the oven’s RF emissions (and thus its ability to damage circuitry) at even leakage power levels are also of concern, especially to the delicate radio front-ends like the tablet’s Bluetooth feature. I wouldn’t be surprised if, over time, the tablet is damaged by this set-up.

  5. cpmike says:

    Considering microwaves have evolved into having graphic-pixel screens and whole user interfaces, it won’t be long before they throw on a full color graphic one on the front of new units. This article just reminds me that along with that, will come manufacturer-included waiting animations and advertisements. This would open the door to displaying other things, like [aztraph] suggested. Having actual youtube videos is nice, but that’s what carrying my phone or a tablet into the kitchen is for? Anyway nifty build, its a creative idea, tho not particularly marketable. Still cool tho.

  6. Will says:

    IMHO all of the bs mind-numbing ads that youtube plays now screws this thing all up time-wise

  7. The DON says:

    To all those people wanting to see funny cat videos…

    GET REAL! Why would you want to have the picture of a cat when looking into a microwave!

    Seriously though, really great idea, the network lag could be accounted for. Its a shame the demo video didn’t take up more of the cooking time, but these are minor tweaks to be done to the system already created.

    Good job guys.

  8. notmyfault2000 says:

    How long before the microwave displays this youtube video of the microwave playing youtube videos?

  9. sariel says:

    first of all, i have that same microwave. lulz

    second of all, i’m not really impressed with this hack. It uses an ipaid too much, it uses highly sophisticated electronics near a microwave, and lastly you have to sign into youtube just to use your microwave. Oh it also twitters! How pathetic is it that the youth of today feels the need to twit about what they’re eating, but now their kitchen appliances are doing it too.

    ways to improve: replace the ipad with an lcd, mount it in the window with a thermal camera feed from the inside that records your food being heated. and then when it’s finished have it twitter you a kick in the balls. Twitter isn’t cool, it was never cool. Although in forethought, having it upload a video of your food being cooked raise the rate youtube videos of ramen being cooked exponentially.

  10. M4CGYV3R says:

    Mine only gets one channel, and it always happens to be playing video of food cooking…

  11. Wm_Atl says:

    Interesting, I would make the tweet optional. Don’t need a reminder for 30seconds. 15 minutes yes. Also, Am I the only one who sets the time, presses start and clears out like it might go BOOM. Never like standing by microwave let alone staring at it.

    • James says:

      @Wm_Atl: Some people still think that microwaves will give you cancer if you stand near them or burn out your eyeballs if you look at them through the door. Don’t worry; neither is true.

      A friend of mine used to press the Clear button several times before he would remove his food, because he thought it cleared the radiation out of the microwave and he really wanted to be sure it was safe. Most people don’t understand how microwaves work.

      • Wm_Atl says:

        wow did not even think about the cancer scare back in the day and never heard about burning eyes out. My concern has always been the leakage and tissue damage and reproductive health, especially in older units although the older units probably are built better. However the risk from leakage is very very low, I believe something about power radiated decrease on a cubed function, unless you sit it in your lap.

  12. wetomelo says:

    Just use the ipad camera using some kind of mirror, and watch the keys pressed or the numbers on the display, do some basic digital image proccesing and voila, no need for arduinos, breadboards, wires, etc
    Still a useless invention, but more elegant!!

  13. JD says:

    @sariel – It uses an HP Touchpad, not an iPad, as shown on the materials page in the link of the article.

    The real question with this is, does it support the Wadsworth constant?

  14. Yen says:

    A fun little project. When your food only has to cook for a minute or two, it’s boring to just wait, but not really enough time to go and do something else in the meantime.

    I don’t tend to bemoan the over-complication of projects, but . . .

    why have the arduino blast out to the internet, just to push that back to the touchpad? it seems you should be able to cut the server & ethernet shield out of the loop entirely. Just have the arduino feed the time info directly to the touchpad, and then the touchpad pulls up an appropriate video.

    if you’ve rooted the touchpad, you could probably drop the arduino as well, and have it watch the time directly. It might more power efficient to let the ‘pad sleep and get woken up by the ardino, though. *shrugs*

  15. evacaf says:

    Fyi: It’s not an iPad, it’s an HPalm TouchPad.

  16. Vonskippy says:

    Are people really so ADHD riddled these days that the few minutes of cooking food in a microwave is just tooooooo much for their brains to handle?

    • Spc 4 says:

      I agree with you. But what if you throw in a “Healthy Choice Café Steamer” and you get suggestions for similar products, or coupons for your local store? I know its more adds and the same flyers you get in the mailbox every week. I want to hook my Xbox to my microwave so I can play MWF3 every time I cook a pizza pocket!

  17. Gmart says:

    I would still prefer seeing my food while inside the microwave. But the the texting mechanism looks cool.

  18. kanchoblindside says:

    I liked this until I saw it.

    Lame, slow, and takes longer to set it up than to cook anything.

    I say it’s a failed experiment. Do something else with the code.

  19. Rintaro says:

    El Psy Congroo.

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