We're not quite to the Jetson's era of producing a meal at the touch of a button, but we might be close. This virtual countertop, developed by a grad student at the University of Washington and Intel researchers, can identify ingredients, suggest recipes, and guide you through steps. In short: everything but the cooking.
The system is called Oasis and it works by using two different cameras positioned above the work station. One senses depth and color while the other projects images onto the surface. The video shows a steak and then a pepper being placed within the camera's range, and then a menu with recipe suggestions using those two ingredients popping up to one side. The camera senses your fingers as well, allowing the projected images to be as interactive as an iPad.
On the one hand, we see this technology and think, "So what?" Websites that let us input our ingredient list and find recipes have been around for a while. If you have a computer in your kitchen, it's as good as a virtual countertop.
On the other hand, this technology takes things one step further. It interacts with your food without your having to input anything, go to any website, or upload an app. We also like that it can be used on any surface - no risk of cracking a screen or splattering sauce on a keyboard. (Although, would we have to always work in the dark? That doesn't seem smart.)
But this is all still theoretical. Who knows if Oasis or anything like it will actually come to the market anytime soon. Still, it's fun to think about, isn't it?!
Check Out the Video: Oasis Virtual Countertop in Action at Intel Research Day via Technology Review
Related: Have You Tried Cookbooker Yet?
(Image: Technology Review)