Looking for a little help in the kitchen? Maybe Julia could help.
No, Julia isn’t your neighbor or a chef matched with you through some online marketplace. In fact, Julia isn’t a person at all.
What Julia is is a robot. A cooking robot.
Developed by an India-based startup called Nymble, Julia creates single pot meals using spice and ingredients chambers that dispense food into the cooking bowl, where a robotic arm mixes the meal within the pot. All of this is monitored by a built-in camera.
You can see a video of Julia cooking rice here:
The camera does more than just capture footage. It’s how Julia becomes a better cook.
“The camera provides us with a thermal image of the food which basically represents the temperature of every pixel in the image,” said Raghav Gupta, CEO of Nymble.
Julia uses precise measurements of temperature and location to closely regulate the heat of the food. It also uses the data to create a better quality cook over time.
“It helps us cook food with a repeatable and consistent quality irrespective of the nature and size of ingredient, geography and other external factors,” said Gupta.
Early on, Julia’s programmers hard coded their cook times for specific intervals depending on the recipe. Over time they’ve gathered more data from the camera and heat sensors, and this has helped Julia become of a feedback driven system. The developer team has also created tools for non-technical users, including a “recipe visualizer” that uses camera and sensor data to help create recipes.
While all this technical work is impressive, it remains to be seen if consumers actually want a cooking robot. It’s easy to envision most of us welcoming a high-end cooking bot like that from Moley, Samsung or Sony, but these concepts are still years off from the mass market. And while there have been systems similar in concept to the Julia, the Sereneti never shipped a finished product and Else Labs’ Oliver has yet to ship.
The only cooking bot that’s sold at volume is the Rotimatic from Zimplistic, which is nearing 100 thousand total units in the field. However, the Rotimatic -- a unitasker that spits out flatbread over and over -- is a much different type of device than the more complex Julia.
In short, since there hasn’t been a product in the market similar to Julia, it’s hard to say if consumers will embrace the idea. My guess is its success will depend on how well it works and how useful it is and whether it makes consumer lives easier. I am particularly curious about how well these systems with pre-loaded ingredient chambers work and if they are easy to clean.
Nymble will try to figure all of this out for themselves as it eyes a 2021 launch. To help do that, the company recently finished some field tests for Julia and is in the process of rolling out additional prototypes to alpha testers in its home market of India (apply here!).
Hopefully Nymble -- and we -- should know soon.