DCWEEK Hackathon Runner-Up Sous Chef Brings Hands Free Recipes on Windows 8 for Surface

November 9, 2012

3:00 pm

It’s dinner party night.   You’ve been talking up your Shepherd’s Pie recipe around the office all week, and now is your time to shine.  You’re wrist deep in ground beef before realizing you forgot to add the Worcestershire sauce.  Frustrated, you go back to wash your hands before handling your new Windows Surface to pull up the recipe again.  If only there were a way to access this hands free….

This is precisely the solution that Sous Chef, runner-up at the recent DCWEEK Hackathon, is providing.  The team is lead by Boris Kozak, James Petty, Adam Lloyd, Mike Siegel, who make up the DC Engineering Office of JIBE, a NY-based tech startup.  Tech Cocktail caught up with Kozak to learn more the development and future of this new Windows 8 app.

Tech Cocktail:  Can you provide more details as to how the app works?

Boris Kozak:  This is a voice activated app for reciting cooking instructions. It was created for Windows 8 and works on any Windows 8 device.

1. You choose a recipe (we use the Punchfork API)
2. You click “Start Cooking”
3. You read the first step (e.g. mix the eggs + milk) and you set down your device.

At this point you no longer need to touch your device — and interact with Sous Chef via voice. Sous chef speaks back to you with a speech Synthesize.

Here are some of the things you can say and responses from Sous Chef

“Sous Chef what’s the next step” — “the next step is…”
“Sous Chef how many eggs do I need?” “You need 3 eggs”
“Sous Chef do I need to add salt?” — “No you don’t need to add any”
“Sous Chef I’ve put the chicken in the oven” — “Ok I’ve set the time timer for 25 minutes.”

The biggest technical achievements here are

1 — Voice activated commands — the software continually listens for speech and filters everything that is not relevant
2 — The A.I. piece – Sous Chef understands when you’re asking. “What’s the next step” is easy to implement — “What do I do after I mix the milk and eggs” is difficultt.

Tech Cocktail:  What was the inspiration behind the idea?

Kozak:  We were sitting around on Saturday thinking of ideas and realized that a common pain point was having to touch our iPad’s or phones while cooking to scroll through a recipe or look up an ingredient (no one wants to touch a phone after you’ve been cutting up raws chicken). We were also inspired by the Xbox’s voice recognition feature — you can just say “XBox — play movie” without touching the remote.

Tech Cocktail:  Is this project something you and your team will continue to work on?

Kozak:  Yes

Look for Sous Chef on your Windows Surface in the near future.  


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When Zach Davis isn’t getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail’s Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.

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