Hacked microwave scans barcodes for automatic cooking times

Modified using a Raspberry Pi the microwave also recognises voice commands and has custom sound effects

Microwaves are that odd-bit of kit that manages to be inherently techy (it cooks food by literally bombarding it with electromagnetic radiation) and yet as boring as possible (old grey plastic and it doesn’t even give you superpowers).

A rogue hacker named Nathan Broadbent has now upgraded the humble microwave with the help of the Raspberry Pi – a basic and very hackable computer the size of a credit-card.

Broadbent’s additions make for a microwave of the future – voice commands have been added, meaning you can just declare ‘Microwave! 60 seconds, high’ and off it goes; there’s a connected web-page so that the microwave can be controlled from your smartphone or tablet; and, best of all,  there’s the ‘Microwave Cooking Database’ – another casual invention from Broadbent built ‘just because’.

With the database you simply scan in the barcode of the meal you’ve bought and the microwave automatically starts cooking with the correct heat setting and time – it even announces when you need to stir your food! For reasons unknown the ready-meal industry have not yet clocked on to this possibility, and Broadbent’s database is currently a one-man operation – he’s adding instructions for meals as he cooks them.

Other little additions include a clock that syncs to the internet (so no more having to fiddle with the settings yourself), a re-jiggered touchpad, and even custom sound effects. Broadbent is currently using the start-up sound from the original Playstation console – a Pavolvian trigger for happiness to geeks of a certain age.

If the video-demo below isn’t enough then more details of the hack can be seen on Broadbent’s homepage. Over on YouTube commenters are already crying out for a Kickstarter campaign and a commercial product. We'll have to wait and see...

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