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kitchen automation

I’ve mentioned before that I like cooking, and with 5 kids I get a lot of opportunities to spend time in the kitchen. Putting a computer in the kitchen has been on my mind for a long time — I think it’s the second most logical place to have a computer in the house, right after having one on your desk. Actually, maybe it’s tied with the desk for most useful location. It’s right there when you’re looking for recipes on or, you can put items on your grocery list right when you use them up, you can use it for phone numbers, maps, messages for family members, and it can be a digital picture frame when it’s not otherwise being used.

Anyway, I’m somewhat amazed that someone hasn’t created a dedicated kitchen computer for purchase, with under cabinet or wall mounting options. I think you could sell a ton of them. But not to me, because I found the DIY version that Ryan over at Judd Studio Engineering built for his kitchen. It does all of the above, plus more, and best of all it looks like a giant iPhone.

Ryan’s iKitchen started with an ELO touchscreen designed for point of sale or kiosk use. This is a smart decision because these types of screens are well built and durable and this is, after all, going in the kitchen. He built his own beefed up computer with the intention of using it to stream music and video, home automation, and other tasks besides its kitchen functions. He also added a barcode scanner to it so he can scan a grocery item and have it automatically added to his grocery list.

The user interface uses Active Desktop which is part of Microsoft Windows. With Active Desktop your desktop is an html WWW page, with icons and links to applications on your computer. Many of his icons are standard applications like Outlook, a browser, calculator, etc. Ryan wrote his own kitchen management software using Microsoft Access that manages the barcode scanner and shopping list (and maybe other things? Not many details about this part).

Ryan’s screen is set into the wall. Personally I would prefer one that mounts horizontally under a cabinet that slides out when you want it and slides back when you don’t. He also spent a fair amount of money on all new components, you could probably save quite a bit buying a used computer and touchscreen from Ebay or Craigslist.

This gadget is definitely on my todo list, and thanks to Ryan for providing the great step-by-step recipe for it.

Happy kitchen gadgeting,

Steve Ravet

EDN Gadgeteer

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