UBIQUITOUS CULINARY DEVICES
"On the way back to my home, one day, while on a bus is when I noticed this - right after the bus halted for dinner by a highway-restaurant, nearly everyone on-board including the driver, took digestive gastric pills frantically after food! Is poor gastric health such a widespread problem
I began my research and that this is what unfolded: Close to 50% of the world's population suffers from some form of gastric problems including ulcers, gastroenteritis and Celiac disease.
What is that one common cause and cure for all of these problems? Food and pH
After talking to 5 gastroenterologists and 3 dietary nutritionists, a surprising fact that came-up is that the food had to be cooked within a slightly alkaline pH range of 8 - 9.3, for the most efficient metabolism.
Further, a well-balanced spice level served to boost-up the digestive processes. Improved efficiency meant lower energy requirements which would result in an improved process, better yield and enhanced component health - A Designer's thought process."
The User Research
There rose a pressing need to find out the general perspective of people towards gastric health, food habits, cooking expertise and the like.
An open survey was conducted involving 72 participants and shadowed 8 more people at their kitchen/cooking-spaces, followed by detailed contextual inquiry and brainstorm on their cooking practices, issues faced, "what-if" hypothesis and co-creation of a new cooking experience!
Interesting Findings and Pain Points
1) A vast majority of people do not know the pH range at which their food is supposed to be cooked and that, this range can vary person to person and can be suggested by the doctor
2) It is an unnoticeably common problem for those who cook for people with gastric troubles or toddlers, to maintain the spice levels carefully
3) Most of today’s working and college-going population wish they had their mom, a culinary expert nearby, whilst they were trying their hand at cooking
4) Trying out a new recipe was a daunting task, even for the experienced ones - especially because they lacked a streamlined guidance
5) To write-down and revisit recipes, not knowing what to cook/eat when especially based on fitness level, lack of a kitchen time
The first step was, experimenting with everyday kitchen articles that could be dubbed as an assistant, something that always goes hand-in-hand, that is inevitable during cooking yet easy to handle, clean etc. Most of our interviewers liked the concept of a "Spoon Culinary Assistant" when we brainstormed by creating storyboards and narrowing down on the exact form-factor of the spoon, as shown below.
The Design, Iteration and Prototype
A) Bring benefits of pH conscious and spice controlled cooking into a familiar and functional form-factor
B) Robust, rugged, aesthetic and affords usage
C) Seamless integration of internals for ease of use, disassembly, and manufacturing
D) Good heat-management and waterproofing
The Motivation and Epilogue
The driving intention was to save and prevent more than half of the world from being affected by poor gastric health.
To make people's lives, affected by gastric problems, easier
To guide and assist them towards recovery
To build a proactive-preventive mechanism, integrated seamlessly with everyday
Having understood that gastric problems are caused due to bad or poor diet, improper food-timings, over spicy foods, psychological stress, alcohol, drug/medication intake and bacterial infections; and that affected people are required to eat less-spicy and easily digestible foods, to eat healthy food at proper timings, to lead an active lifestyle and importantly to consume food based on their level of activity.
Having understood the pain-points of students, working professionals and home-makers during cooking and co-creating a better experience for them.