I have to admit I find cooking a bit of a chore. As a result, I'm not very good at it and avoid it if at all possible. That’s why at first glance, the idea of a cooking simulator doesn’t really grab me. But with many others in Gen X and Gen Y also lacking the skills to cook up anything but the most basic of meals, my kitchen-novice brethren and I might ultimately benefit from the cooking simulator being developed by researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
The simulator consists of a fry pan and spatula with force feedback capabilities, and a half-mirror display on which the three-dimensional virtual food can be viewed. The force feedback gives the pan extra weight as food is added and provides the tactile feeling of moving the ingredients with the virtual spatula of when shaking the pan back and forth.
By combining a rigid-body physics engine library and a heat conduction simulator, the system can calculate the heat transfer from the pan to the virtual food and the amount of moisture evaporation. This enables it to change the surface texture of the ingredients and display the changes in the food as it cooks – protein in the meat going from red to brown and vegetables darkening, for example.
"We'd like to develop this system further, so it's helpful in actual cooking at home,” one of the system’s developers told DigInfo. “If it could be linked to a system that tells you, ‘In five minutes, your food will look like this, and in ten minutes, it will look like this. Which would you prefer?, so this system could really help with cooking."
Now if they could integrate some game into the system, the Tokyo Institute of Technology team might really be onto something that could get me into the kitchen willingly.
The DigInfo video below shows the cooking simulator in action.