iLab: Learn is a laboratory for developing appropriate educational applications of the Digital Kitchen project. Digital Kitchen is an 18 month project developed through LanCook, a European-wide collaboration funded by the European Union’s Lifelong Learning program.
Culture Lab initially operated the idea of French Digital Kitchen in 2011 to develop French recipes for Catering students of Newcastle University. Constant improvements and revisions of Digital Kitchen have resulted in a polished fully functioning kitchen, complete with impressive cooking equipment and a language teaching system. Not only does the kitchen operate in French, many other European languages are also now offered.
Digital Kitchen consists of three main elements: sensing, tracking and prompting. The technology that is developed in Newcastle University's Culture Lab resembles that of the Nintendo Wii - the kitchen tells the students exactly which steps to take next! Users of the kitchen attach the sensors on to the utensils and ingredients, and the sensors detect every movement. A tablet then provides step-by-step instructions visually and verbally to help users not only learn language but also cook great food.
“The digital kitchen now has English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Finnish and Catalan languages installed. It really motivates people to learn, food brings people together!” said Sandra Morales Rios, a research assistant of iLab involved in the digital kitchen project. “They don't just learn the vocabulary from the tablet, instead they work in pairs and learn more about the language through the process of negotiation and communication. The results of this project are overwhelmingly positive! The kitchen is suitable for everyone who is interested in learning a language.”
On September 26th 2014, LanCook project partners, Newcastle University (UK), Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia (Italy), Helsingin yliopisto (Finland), Universität Paderborn (Germany) and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) came to London with their own digital kitchens to celebrate the European Day of Language of 2014. All the European Digital Kitchens met and simultaneously cooked together in different languages.
“It was great to be in London to join in the event with all the partners; the combination of cooking and working together was really exciting.” Ms. Morales Rios said, “I was in charge of the French kitchen so I didn’t really cook…but it was interesting, everyone was happy.”
Ms. Morales Rios said soon there will be more languages installed such as Chinese and Korean, and an academic book consisting of different peoples' experiences with the program is soon to be published. In the future they hope to expand the project into the home.
“It will be a long-term plan for digital kitchen. Though the digital kitchen is not currently commercial, the app is part of our future plans. However, for now it is only for academic purposes,” said Ms. Morales Rios.
For more details, visit the website of iLab:Learn or LanCook.