AI in the kitchen

Hey Siri, I’m hungry. Cooking and general food intake are often perceived as a burden in terms of time and effort in everyday life. This is not surprising considering the daily variety of necessary tasks that have to be dealt with in both the family and personal environment, regardless of nutrition. The job, private commitments and the large number of time-consuming activities mean that the importance of a regular supply of healthy and generally balanced diet fades into the background and becomes secondary.

Illustration of a futuristic kitchen scene. In the foreground, a hand holds a cell phone on which robotic arms can be seen preparing a salad. In the background you can see a kitchen counter on which two robotic arms are cutting a cucumber on a board.

AI as a chef – Game Changer?

Despite existing counter-trends in which the regular preparation of sustainable products is valued as a social event, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the current prevailing conditions are causing some people to turn away from cooking. Sometimes the impression arises that, from the perspective of the group of people concerned, the kitchen is increasingly mutating into a “sterile place” that has little to offer apart from undesirable work and the associated loss of time. Is this the case? In this context, can current developments in AI research provide assistance and inspiration that can provide a realistic prospect of reintroducing seemingly unreachable individuals to food preparation and, in the best-case scenario, even give them pleasure and enjoyment in this productive activity?

Illustration of two robot arms. The left arm brings the thumb and index finger together to form a ring. The right robot arm presents a serving plate with a food bell.

The Beginnings

A very striking example of current social developments over the past decade and the general "reluctance to eat" is the measure taken by software engineer Rob Rhinhart, who co-founded his own mineral shake Soylent in 2013 to cover his body's general physical needs for the day. The German company yfood has been riding the same wave since 2017 with its product “This is food”, which initially offered a drinkable meal in a wide variety of flavors. In conjunction with other supplementary nutritional alternatives, which are all based on the same product philosophy, a separate product category was created: Smart Food. The aim was to use the product portfolio to counter the omnipresent junk food with something balanced and healthy, which had previously been the only alternative in many places.

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