|15||SMART AUTOMATIC PASTA / RICE COOKER
Tae Kyung Lee
|Teammates: Anusha Kandula (kandula2), Gautam Putcha (gputcha2), Tae Kyung Lee (tlee82)
When we return home from work or school and want to eat as soon as possible, starting a rice cooker and waiting for another 30-40 minutes is inconvenient. In general, the time taken to cook the base/staple of meals (ex: rice, pasta, noodles) is long compared to the remaining steps in a simple cooking process. For example, if we have the pasta cooked, adding pasta sauce to it takes a negligible amount of time. Using a high-pressure rice cooker still takes 15-20 minutes and is more expensive than a simple rice cooker. An effective and unique solution to this problem has not been found yet, even though a lot of people face this issue!
A system that is a fully automatic smart pasta/rice-cooking system and would be an extension on existing very basic rice cookers. Our system would be a module that is connected to a water supply as well as a rice reservoir. This rice reservoir would simply be filled when a bag of rice/pasta is bought from the grocery store. The user, while still at school/work could use our mobile/web application to prepare the desired amount of rice. For example, if the user would like to cook 2 cups of rice, the correct amount of rice would be released from the reservoir into the rice cooker, with the correct associated volume of water, and the cooker would be started so that the rice would be ready for when the user arrives home.
Since a lot of people (especially college students) have unpredictable schedules, it can often be difficult to plan when we may come home or if we may have already eaten by the time we come home. With this system, you can start the cooking process from anywhere, with no preparation beforehand.
We plan to address the safety concerns with the following precautions so that our users are not afraid that their houses might catch on fire:
1) The addition of a smoke detector, which on detection will send a message to the user's mobile phone and immediately cut off power to the entire device.
2) An abnormal rise in heat will also send a message to the user and cut off power to all components.
3) Additional in-built surge protection to safeguard against a potential voltage spike.
There are very few “smart” rice-cookers on the market today, but none with the abilities that we are proposing. An interesting device that we found was the Xiaomi Mi Induction Pressure Rice-Cooker. This has the ability to remotely start the cooking of rice through an application but has one issue: it requires the user to have already put in the rice and water, basically rendering the system as a simple on/off smart switch. Our system on the other hand, would not require the user to prepare for future cooking at all. Since the cooker is already connected to both the rice/pasta and water sources, a user request with the number of cups would begin the cooking process at any time.
Sensor Subsystem: A level sensor will be used to find the accurate measurement of rice/water in the valve and will also be used to warn the user when the container needs a refill. A temperature sensor to detect any abnormal rise in the temperature and potential smoke for any fire hazards. A smoke detector will also be added for safety to cut off power to the entire system in case of a hazard.
Processing Subsystem: A PCB that acts as the processor and is placed on the base station which receives measurement data from mobile application. The sequence of events is executed in order by the PCB.
Power Subsystem: Base station will be plugged into a standard wall socket plug point.
Communications Subsystem & User Interface: Wireless internet communication using a WiFi module along with a mobile/web application to facilitate remote cooking. The Wifi module will also be integrated into our PCB.
Reservoir controller Subsystem:
This system will aid in dispensing the necessary amount of rice and water into the cooker to prepare for cooking. The two main components of this subsystem will be:
1) A reservoir of rice whose release is governed by a motor-controlled auger. The number of cups as requested by the user is measured by the change in volume as indicated by a level sensor.
2) A reservoir of water whose release is governed by a solenoid valve. The number of cups as requested by the user is measured by the change in volume as indicated by a level sensor.
The behavior of both of the reservoir releases are controlled by an arduino. This subsystem is attached to a tripod-looking structure above the cooker that holds the reservoirs into place.
Cook & Warm Switch Subsystem: A single button on the cooker which is turned on (to begin cooking) using a simple DC servo motor.
Hinge system for opening and closing the lid: The arduino will control the rotation of a DC servo motor that is attached to the lid will be connected by the A4988 stepper motor driver carrier to control the speed and angle of the turn of the motor.
Criterion for Success:
The goal of this project is to have a simple app interface from which a user can begin cooking rice remotely with no preparation whatsoever. The Smart Rice-Cooker Extension System will then take off the lid and dispense the exact amount of rice and water after the program is run. It then closes the lid and turns on the rice cooker for a quick meal ready to eat when you are back home.
A basic sketch of what the final product will look like and a picture of the rice cooker that we want to use: