What's the Latest Development?

By combining a standard microwave with an Arduino Nano microcontroller, a Raspberry Pi microcomputer, and other hardware, developer Nathan Broadbent was able to create a customized appliance that requires almost no tactile input to work. His "Raspberry Picrowave" can, among other things, accept commands via the owner's voice or through a browser or mobile app, and even produce sound effects that go beyond the typical microwave beep. However, one of its most impressive skills is the ability to cook a product using instructions collected from a scan of the product's barcode and located in an online database that Broadbent built himself. A video demonstration even shows how products can be added to the database.

What's the Big Idea?

Writer Sebastian Anthony notes that microwave interfaces have always been confusing, and cites his own home appliance as an example: "My microwave has more than 30 buttons, and yet once I (eventually) found the 'immediately start cooking for one minute' button, it's the only one I use." The hacking process is certainly elaborate, but aspiring DIYers can visit Broadbent's site to get open-source schematics and software.

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