NEC C&C Innovation Research Lab visit

Purpose: project final presentation and demostration

Project Name: Kitchen Media

Location: NEC - R&D Center in Osaka, Japan


Dates: 05/03/2011-12/03/2011

Six people from Cute Center of Singapore went to the NEC R&D lab for the final presentation and demostration. This joint project between NEC and Keio-NUS Cute center has been on for 2 years. During the 2nd year, we developed a whole co-ding system, to create a sense of co-presence for family members who are located in diffferent places. The system uses technology to bond family through meaningful communication using food and dinning channels.

The co-dining table is implemented with four devices: food printer, moving object table, a table cloth display and a screen for gesture-based interaction.

Monday-Wednesday: system implementation and demo set up

We received the components we delivered at the late afternoon of Monday, then we begin to unpack all the things and started the implementation. Unluckily, the food printer was broken in many parts, especially some of the connection parts. For the moving table, since we disconnected some parts for delivery, we need to connect them back and do the testing.

For the whole two days, I was fixing the food printer, trying to get it back to work. Many screws were out, some parts were loosen, and some connection parts were broken into pieces during the delivery. And due to pressure, possibly, some alignment, such as coupling and lead screws, were deformed seriously.


After fixing the hardware of food printer, I began testing the syringe with different kinds of food material. Since the temperature was different from in Singapore, the density of food seemed to be a little different. For the table, we need to connect it back, install the endstop sensor and test the results, to avoid its hitting on the table surface. We also need to test the magnet, to see whether it can move the bowls with food on the glass surface smoothly. After one whole day, we finally got the whole system set up, the screen, the table cloth and the moving table.


Demo set up and testing

After putting all the devices together, we began the testing. Instead of controlling separately, we were using the kinect camera for gesture interaction. There are a few icons on the screen, linked to different devices of the system, users use the pushing gesture to trigger different actions of devices. There are 7 icons on the screen, 3 for the table cloth, displaying the pattern of heart, emphasis and smile face; 3 for the moving table, users can choose to move the miso soup, the rice or the small Japanese dish. The last one is for food printer, which triggers the food printer to print out "LOVE" on a piece of bread.


Wednesday: Final presentation and demostration to NEC

The presentation was carried out at 2pm. After that, we moved to the demo part. We showed them how to use the system, explain how the system work, and some of them, including the Director, Keiji Yamada tried our system. Generally, they were quite impressed by our demo and very satisfied with our work. After the demo, we had a short discussion about the project and related research like sub-conscious communication, etc.


Thursday to end of stay

After the demo, we continued on working to make the system more robust, including the endstop for the moving table, the magnets under the bowls, and at the same time, we were trying the network connection for the system to achieve remote communication. Before packing up, we showed them the operation tips and figuring out the operation manual with step by step instrunction. They said, actually, our system is quite easy to handle. :)

Visit to Kyoto University on Wednesday evening

After the demo at NEC, Prof Cheok took us to Kyoto Univerisity, to visit the lab of Prof Naoko Tosa, whose research focuses on culture computing and artistic computing. We watched the video about their work, and they are so fantastic, especially the ZENetic Computer, which they also created the iPhone and iPad version.

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