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Capable Oven

A smart oven to augment human capabilities

Challenge

Have you ever thought about empowering people with different abilities to cook autonomously?

Summary

The CapAble microwave oven aims to teach, guide, and support people with different cognitive and physical abilities to autonomously cook food.

On a sociological level, this research allowed individuals to feel like chefs by taking part in the open-source CapAble food community.

Design thinking and co-design sessions were the core aspects of the entire project.

Working together with people from Saint John of God Community Dublin, engineers from TU Dublin, and caregivers co-created a functional prototype of the microwave oven usable for people with different abilities.

Impact

This project, strongly supported by the SJG Community, successfully impacted peoples’ everyday life. Since the first steps of the research, when users and caregivers have been involved in user research, the co-design approach of the whole idea came out. As a tangible impact, the large majority of users involved in the project developed deep relational connections with researchers and caregivers and the newly developed medium (capable microwave oven) enabled people to learn how to collaborate together and how to receive less support from caregivers in meals preparation. The prototype of the device has been shown at different exhibitions and further stages of technology transfer are currently ongoing.

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My role

A user-centered research design method was part of the coordination and management activities across a team of engineers and Master's student researchers from Technological University Dublin and stakeholders from SJG Community.

During the 1-year project, I was the principal investigator and I lead the research proposal development and submission, reported on ethics and human rights to the ethical committee (IRB process), managed the work of research engineers, run usability studies and heuristic evaluation, wireframed mockups of the interface and designed the physical prototype. Among several research articles [1], [2] we published about this project, the latest received the Best Paper Award from the International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics - AHFE 2021.