Thursday, January 2, 2014

Crowdsourcing a "Perfect" Hack

My sister likes gadgets, so when it came time to go Christmas shopping for her, I naturally wandered into Brookstone, and she likes to entertain in her beautiful Florida home, so in Brookstone my eyes naturally wandered to the Perfect Drink app-controlled bartending set.

Actually, on my first foray into the store, I passed this gadget by, not quite getting that this wasn't just another electric shaker or some other such I-don't-really-need-a-machine-to-do-that sort of tool. But on the next trip, when I was starting to get desperate, I happened to be in the store when someone was doing a live demo (similar to this video), and I saw what a truly cool thing this was: An app-controlled smart scale that tracks the pour of each ingredient, including scaling for multiple servings and correcting for overpours by proportionally scaling the other ingredients. It even senses when you pick the shaker up from the scale and starts a timer to ensure you shake long enough!
It's just cool.
But it didn't take me long to realize that the concept would be equally useful for all recipes; not just cocktails. Alton Brown made a point, throughout the run of Good Eats, of basing his "applications" on weights, and I can imagine a Perfect Drink-like gadget/app that would work for complex, multistage dishes just as well as for a three- or four-ingredient mixed drink. The hardware — the smart scale itself — is right there; all that's needed is the app.
Surely, I thought, such an app had already been produced... but if so, my poor searching skills haven't been up to finding it. This prototype seems more focused on homebrew hardware; the Prep Pad from Orange Chef seems more focused on precision and nutritional analysis than on reecipe process management (and besides, it costs more than twice as much as the Perfect Drink hardware).
So I have to ask all my geeky, software inclined friends: How hard would it be to write a full-featured cooking app that would use the Perfect Drink smart scale hardware as approachably and effectively as the original cocktail set does?
Enquiring minds want to know!

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