Case study: designing an IoT cooking app

Kamadomii is an Internet of Things product that consists of a hardware device and a companion mobile app that I have been involved building in. I did the design and my husband Nik Shanin coded the app. The device itself particularly built for the egg-shaped ceramic grills.

Make it easy

Many of you may remember the moment when you need to cook a perfect smoky-flavored meat on your outdoor grill. The outdoor grills are awesome, you can gather your friends and family around it chatting and barbecuing something delicious. But the situation changes when you need to cook a stew. Cooking a stew may take up to 6–8 hours and you cannot just leave it in the hands of God. Throughout these long hours, you need to check your grill making sure that everything goes smoothly. And at the same time, you don’t want to open the grill too often to not ruin the pressure inside it. This is where Kamadomii helps.

Kamadomii is a hardware device that’s mounted on the grill itself. The device tracks the temperature and the pressure inside the ceramic grills. If something goes wrong, the device sends push notifications to the mobile phone alerting the cook.

The main screen of the app shows the temperature of your grill. This screen has several different states depending on the cooking process

Give me more

But Kamadomii is much more than a temperature tracker. Kamadomii is a community of people with a passion to cook outside with their friends and families. This is the second major function of the product, being a communicating tool apart from helping by controlling the cooking process.

Initially, we split these two major functions and I’ve been working on them separately. While the ‘cooking controller’ part was heavily documented and somewhere depended on the limitations set by the device itself, the ‘community’ part appeared as an area for thinking and testing different solutions in order to find the best for the product.

Community

I’ll call this part of the app ‘community’ in this article. Though it works more like the digital portable cooking book. This cooking book consists of personal recipes and public recipes posted, cooked and discussed by the community. People can browse through the public recipes, search by ingredients or in a certain category, save public recipes to try later and discuss them with others. Of course, even when you’re cooking one of Jamie Oliver’s recipe you make some alterations to it at your preferences (I don’t usually add coriander, its aroma is too strong for me 🌱) So the Kamadomii users can adapt the recipe of others to their needs but the changes will only be stored for them.

While designing the cooking book I followed the practice of using traditional hand-written cooking books where people store their recipes, notes, serving ideas and more than that — where they experiment. My choice of textures and supplement fonts in UI was inspired by the same cookbooks, I also created a small icon set for the app to make the actions and parts of the interface easily recognizable.

This is how a recipe looks in the app, it shows the overall information about the recipe and the author’s notes, the ingredients and the steps of cooking

So adding a recipe flow of the app is very similar to what we (or our grandmas) usually write in their sacred cooking diaries. Apart from only one thing, there is a couple of details that should be necessarily described for the grill to be working, such as the cooking time or the grill temperature. The rest is simple and intuitive, you need to write down the list of the ingredients with the amount for each. We implemented the search with suggestions to make it easier to add ingredients and search new recipes. You describe your cooking process, in steps if you like. You can add photos to each step of the process to make sure the thing you’re cooking is looking as it should be. You can add notes and ideas to your recipes sharing it with others. And finally, you can add notifications, but we’ll talk about it in the next chapter.

Cooking controller

Now the techy part. As I already mentioned, Kamadomii works as a cooking helper gathering data from the device that’s attached to the ceramic grill itself. The app processes that data and sends push notifications and reminders to the cook depending on the situation. The device is paired with the iPhone app through wi-fi and you receive notifications pretty quickly, and you do not necessarily need to be near your grill. The most important part is that you only go and check your slow-cooking stew when it is really necessary. Kamadomii takes care of the pressure inside the grill at the temperature needed to cook the perfect meal. If the temperature or the pressure needs to be changed during the cooking, Kamadomii does it automatically based on your recipe. Of course, for experimentations, the process can be manual 😉

AppleWatch part of the app helps to track the current stage of the cooking, the grill temperature and shows the notifications and alerts whenever it’s necessary

During the manual cooking mode, all sorts of reminders, like ‘flip the side’ can also be set and received as push notifications. The app sends a notification each time when a certain cooking step is completed or the temperature has been changed, or the manual reminder comes up. To make it even more handy I designed and we implemented all this notifications and reminders flow on Apple Watch, so when you’re in your kitchen in the process of cooking as well, you don’t need to be forced to wash your hands to read your notifications on your phone, you can just take a look at your watches.

This is how simple it sounds and honestly, it was part of my job to make it work simple and intuitive.

In-app notifications. There’s a set of dual-color icons and illustrations I created for the project