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Like it or not, we're living in the age of connected devices—soon there won’t be a room in your house that doesn’t have at least one kind of “smart” gadget.
A fascinating side-effect of this connected revolution is that the tools are becoming so commonplace that virtually anyone can start hacking and create something revolutionary. Just ask Oregonian 15-year-old Shahir Rahman, who wanted to find a way to keep his dad’s tea from boiling over. The end result of his quest? A potentially monumental change to microwaves.
In trying to make his microwave smarter, Shahir started dissecting it and learning exactly how it cooks food. He studied the texture and viscosity of various foods and how those properties affect temperature, then took a temperature gun to meals at home and at restaurants to create detailed cooking profiles.
With that data in hand, Shahir began working in earnest on a series of complex algorithms that could use a single Panasonic thermopile array sensor to identify the kind of food being cooked and calculate how long it would need to be zapped before reaching the ideal temperature. With the help of his father (an engineer at Intel) and a few of his coworkers, Shahir built a smart microwave that can calculate the perfect temperature and cook time for virtually any dish.
Right now, the remaining time and cook temperature are displayed via a smartphone app, but Shahir is still tinkering and improving. He hopes to be able to include a way for the microwave to detect fires before they start, and identify what food is inside without any user input.
The smart home will do a lot to take the daily frustrations out of our lives. While Shahir still has some more work to do before you'll see his invention on store shelves, with any luck it won't be too long before all of our kitchens will be that much smarter.