Master’s Students Win Core77 Design Award

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Master’s Students from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design recently received the Student Notable Consumer Technology Award for their design of Chef, a conversational AI for culinary experiences, as part of the Core77 2020 Design Awards. Chef is a multi-platform conversational assistant for Blue Apron designed to provide a streamlined and personalized cooking experience.  The Core77 Design Awards annually celebrates "the richness of the design profession as well as the insight and perseverance of its practitioners."

Chef was developed in a 7-week Interaction Design Studio course in Fall of 2019 by team members Anna Boyle (MDes ’21), Deepika Dixit (MPS ’20), Yiwei Huang (MDes ’21) and Amrita Khoshoo (MDes ’21). 

“The use of AI continues to grow as it offers efficient solutions to problems facing people and businesses,” said Boyle. “Our team sought to research a current brand that could benefit from this type of assistance. Our design involved the development of form, motion, and style of a digital ecosystem for a conversational assistant.”

At the beginning of this project the team was tasked with researching AI and virtual assistants that were currently on the market and evaluating established brands that currently do not have AI or a virtual assistant but could benefit from having one in the future. After their research on current trends and services, the team landed on Blue Apron -  an ingredient recipe meal kit service that delivers personal meals to your door composed of locally sourced ingredients alongside recipe guidelines.

“We identified a need for a conversational assistant in the kitchen as it can facilitate personalized, hands-free interactions,” added Dixit. “While guiding the user throughout the cooking process, Chef makes the culinary experience more accessible and enjoyable.”

Accessible on Blue Apron’s mobile app and a smart home display, Chef’s capabilities in and out of the kitchen include:

  • Making personalized meal recommendations based on user preference.
  • Connecting to smart kitchen devices for a streamlined cooking experience.
  • Guiding individuals and multiple users through the cooking experience.
  • Providing ingredient substitutions in real-time.
  • Keeping track of multiple timers.
  • Integrating with third-party applications like MyFitnessPal, Spotify, and YouTube.

“Cooking is task-based, and often requires a piece of technology,” said Huang. “We set out to design a hands-free cooking experience that’s designed to bring people together in the kitchen.”

For the team, the education they have been receiving at the School of Design deeply influenced their work on Chef.

“ The project pushed us to think holistically about design as it combined interaction, visual, conversation, and service design approaches,” said Khoshoo. “Throughout the process, we were guided through feedback from our professors, who encouraged us to take a systems-level approach and think about developing our craft, the future of technology, and human values.

“Here, you’ll be challenged to stretch your thinking, hone your craft, and reflect on your practice within an inspiring and supportive community.” 

“The multidisciplinary aspect of the program and the radical care for our society pushed me into challenging myself and aspire to be a better designer,” said Huang.

“My time at Carnegie Mellon has helped me refine my design craft in addition to honing strong research strategies that have grown into confidence in my work and the ability to speak to the design decisions that I make,” added Boyle. “I am a better designer and person because I am going to Carnegie Mellon.

“The school has pushed me to do and be better!”

The team extends a very special thanks to their IxD studio professors Kyuha Shim, Daphne Peters, Dina El-Zanfaly, and TA Matt Prindible for their guidance and support throughout the process.

Chef is currently eligible for Core77’s Community Choice prize.  Please take a moment and vote for it HERE through July 7th.

Learn more about Chef >>

Anna Boyle's Personal Website >>

Yiwei Huang's Perosnal Website >>

Amrita Khoshoo's Personal Website >>

Date Published: 
Sunday, July 5, 2020
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