Project Description

Project overview

Hi Mum! Said Dad and BBC Good Food collaborated to create a voice controlled smart fridge proof of concept. Using Alexa, advanced object recognition and machine learning the product scans the contents of the user’s fridge, and return recipes based on what is stocked. 

Business Challenge

BBC Good Food is the UK’s favourite and most famous destination for recipes – offering everything from everyday meals to adventurous weekend experiments.

As a trusted and much-loved household name, BBC Good Food has the perfect foundation to go beyond recipe content become an end-to-end meal provider.

With this in mind, Hi Mum! Said Dad and BBC Good Food embarked on a creative exploration of how we could realise this ambition against the backdrop of the burgeoning connected home.

We knew smart appliances inevitably would have a role to play in the proposition, especially with manufacturers such as Samsung stating that all their products will be Internet-connected by 2020.

The big question now was to figure out the role Good Food could play in this smart home future and to ultimately help BBC Good Food begin to realise their endgame of becoming an end-to-end meal provider.

In particular, we wanted to understand what is technologically viable now and how this could be built upon in order to:

  • Devise a robust business model that provides BBC Good Food with an additional revenue stream
  • Create a compelling service that the platform’s loyal users would find meaningful value in

Solution

Imagine if you could ask Alexa to suggest the healthiest meal for your family tonight and the results returned were all based on the food you already have in your fridge.

Well, that’s exactly what we did.

Using the inbuilt cameras in your smart fridge, alongside advanced object recognition and machine learning, we developed a smart fridge platform as a working proof of concept. The platform was able to detect the contents of the fridge and return relevant options from BBC Good Food’s 10,000+ recipes that the user could navigate with their voice.

In the instance where there weren’t any recipe matches for the combination of ingredients in the fridge, users would be offered the opportunity to order the missing ingredients through a supermarket retailer integration. This was our route to monetising the service.

In parallel, Hi Mum! Said Dad created an advanced stand-alone Alexa Voice Skill that could handle the conversation element of our smart fridge proof of concept, as well as the recipe search and hands-free cooking instructions.

Results

The biggest barrier to overcome was to train the object recognition model with a dataset of sufficient size and quality in order to detect the difference between items in the fridge (e.g. courgette vs a cucumber).

The concept achieved this target and the BBC Smart Fridge product demonstrated a successfully functioning proof of concept, end to end.

With a working proof of concept, BBC Good Food was able to explore the vision of being an end-to-end meal provider and understand their integral position in the future home.