Smart Microwave Shows You How It’s Done

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Do you still have technical difficulties with your microwave? Never know how long to put that half eaten hot-pocket in for? With the nextWAVE (trademark pending) you don’t need to know! Simply scan the bar code and let the nextWave do its thing — wirelessly!

[Kashev Dalmia], [Dario Aranguiz], [Brady Salz] and [Ahmed Suhyl] just competed in the HackIllinois Hackathon 2014, and their project was this awesome smart microwave. It uses a Spark Core Microcontroller to control the microwave and communicate wirelessly over Wi-Fi. They’ve developed an Android app to allow you to scan bar codes, which are then looked up in a Firebase Database to determine the optimum (crowd sourced) cook time. To make it easy for anyone to use, an app link NFC tag is placed on the microwave for easy installation.

It even automatically opens the door when it’s done — and plays Funky Town! Oh and it also has a Pebble app to show you the time remaining on your food. We think this Raspberry Pi microwave might give it a run for its money though…

26 thoughts on “Smart Microwave Shows You How It’s Done

  1. A smart microwave with a simple thermal imaging sensor allowing microwaves to be directly aimed at cold spots, would be much better.

    1. I don’t know if there is a way to measure heat in a microwave without the probe, imager or whatever being fried by microwaves.

  2. Does it take into account the power of the user’s microwave compared to that of all the crowd sourced timings?

    If it doesn’t it’s not much better than reading the time on the back of the packet or hitting random numbers.

    1. Entering the microwave’s power to automatically adjust the time would help, but my guess is it’s not a straight line. A 1400 watt oven wouldn’t cook exactly twice as fast as a 700 watt oven. Even different ovens with the same power would likely have varying degrees of heat, based on how they cycle power, shape of the oven cavity, if there’s a turntable, etc.

      What would probably work best would be a calibrating test, where you heat exactly 1000 ml of water gradually in 10 second bursts until it reaches a common starting point, like 30C, and then measure the time it takes at full power to boil it. That’s going to be a pretty tricky calibration step for most people. That’s data that could be crowdsourced; it’s also something that might be very standard for all 1kW ovens to hit the mark in 240 seconds (or whatever).

      1. You only need to measure the temperature difference, since you know volume & time you can work out calories (1 calorie to heat 1mL water 1 degree C), then power.

      1. We have an option on the app to look up something without a barcode (ie “Bagel” or “Hot Pocket”), but more realistically, we also have a button that just lets you set a cook time and go. It takes maybe five seconds more than hitting the buttons on the microwave, and you still get Pebble notifications when it’s done. =)

    1. I can understand not finishing a Hot Pocket, but coming back to finish it after a round of explosive diarrhea? Impressive.

  3. Clever and all, but are people really that stupid that they need this type of technical “assistance”? Since pretty much any child 5 and up can “master” the vast difficulty of microwaving food, exactly what moron demographic are they targeting (the average Uni student maybe?).

    1. We did it because it was fun, not to make a product to bring to market =) If we keep working on it, we’ll make it frictionless, not to worry. Android Wear looks promising…

    2. It’s not always about “stupid” but often about abilities.

      My aunt is blind, and she uses a microwave oven. She actually has Braille stickers on the keypad of her microwave, but obviously she can’t read the package to determine cooking times.

      (And yeah, she probably won’t be using a touchscreen phone or Pebble watch in this scenario, but the general concept of a “smart microwave” has merit.)

  4. The comments here bring up a number of points as if this were a commercial product. Even the valid concerns would be trivial to fix/implement (e.g. user confirmation before starting, review of entries in the cook times database, accounting for features/specs of specific microwaves, etc.)

    What I think we should all keep in mind is that these students managed to learn the component technologies, implement a really cool, functional solution, and present it to the world in less than 2 days.

  5. Microwaves only need four buttons.+1:00, +0:15, Stop, and Clear. The Stop button is optional because microwaves stop when you open the door. Most people just push the button that makes it start and manually stop it when they think the item is hot enough.

    1. “Most people just push the button that makes it start and manually stop it when they think the item is hot enough.”

      The only people I have ever encountered that did that were too stupid or too lazy to read directions.

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