Students cook up a mobile app to help you connect to your inner chef

A trio of app developers built a hands-free tool to take you through a recipe step by step.

Photo/Julian Cardillo '14

A trio of Brandeis students has built a mobile application that can give even the most dreadful of cooks more confidence in the kitchen.

“Chef’s Assistant,” conceived and created by Gerriana Cohen ’18, Demi Zhang ’19 and Fatima Hussaini ’17 during the nine-week Justice Brandeis Semester (JBS) class Voice, Web, and Mobile Apps, is a hands-free application that features 330,000 recipes with voice-activated, step-by-step instructions on how to produce them.

JBS classes, which take place exclusively during the summer, provide students with 12 credit hours and fulfill graduation requirements. In this JBS students also earned three required classes for the computer science major

“We wanted this app to be simple and easy while also giving the user more inspiration to try things in the kitchen,” said Cohen, who presented the app to her peers at a presentation on Aug. 5, the course’s final day.

Chef’s Assistant is geared toward helping anyone – whether they’re a master in the kitchen or a beginner – to be more organized when they’re preparing their meals.

The app, which can handle even the most specific of instructions, also includes a shopping list feature that can be kept up to date with simple voice commands.

“I want a recipe that doesn’t have peanuts but has carrots, curry, is vegan and contains less than 500 calories,” said Zhang as she demonstrated the product to the audience.

In an instant, Chef’s Assistant fired back dozens of recipes that met the parameters of Zhang’s request.

“Our competition doesn’t feature nutritional information of calorie counts and, most importantly, don’t have voice functions,” added Hussaini. “Our app is able to talk you through steps and keep your inventory up to date in a way that others can’t.”

Five other groups also presented their apps. One app specialized in helping current Brandeis undergraduates schedule their courses over four years, while another featured a voice-enabled customizable event planning and calendar app.

The students learned how to build mobile applications that use voice commands during the course’s first five weeks. The remaining four weeks were spent applying what they learned to their app ideas to build a viable product.

“I am very pleased with quality of these apps,” said professor Tim Hickey, who has taught this course for three years. “All of them are very creative, original and well designed.

“All of the students pushed far beyond what we taught them in the first five weeks. I was very impressed.”

Categories: General, Science and Technology, Student Life

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