The Future of Food is Now Connected.
Innit is a smart kitchen platform that aims for invisibility. Rather than putting its unique set of machine learning and image recognition technologies at the forefront of the user experience, Innit instead empowers everyday people to harness this tech to cook more delicious and nutritious foods, simply and more frequently. The product strategy of leading with recipes rather than technologies was driven by customer insights discovered during user testing sessions that revealed modern heads of household are less concerned with the way they get their inspiration for meals, and more interested in products that make their lives easier by helping them figure out what to cook tonight based on the ingredients that are already in their refrigerator and pantry. In a sense, this insight shifted Innit from a technology startup to a content and media company. Ingredient tracking helped determine ripeness levels and nutritional content, but they didn’t inspire customers to want to cook a meal or use the product. Conversely, delicious looking dinners and breakfasts, communicated through images and live videos of the recipes helped to inspire more product usage and brand affinity. This project contains product interface explorations and production executions, and is based on several design sprints that were led at Innit in the spring of 2016.
By allowing for a better understanding of common ingredients and their history, Innit empowers their customers to venture beyond their comfort zone and cook with a wider range of ingredients knowing when they are ripe, in season, and additional foods to pair them with. Creating distinct silos for both recipes and ingredients helps users with an additional onramp to cooking great meals, and enabled the product ecosystem to create specific alerts for when users should cook a particular item in order to get the most nutrition or flavor from it. This product strategy resulted in an orthogonal information architecture approach that built connections between ingredients, recipes, histories, and nutrition in a way that felt more like a complete story than a set of discrete technologies.
There is more to a life well lived than adhering to a strict regimen of health above wellness. In this sense, Innit created partnerships with editorial publications for not only five-star recipes for food, but also for libations. This helped customers better pair wine with meals, or leverage ingredients already at home for a custom cocktail. Customers developed affinity for the brand through a feeling that Innit was less big brother and more best buddy by suggesting meals or drinks that were as often naughty as nice.
Tablet to Table
The Innit design an experience feels natural on each platform and surface that it's deployed. Discovering a new recipe at home or in the store, cooking it perfectly in the kitchen, and monitoring the oven temperature and baking process on the go all need discrete features based on the nature of the device and context. Customers needed taste the chicken before the true value of the platform could be communicated, but before that could happen Innit needed to gain their trust and their taste buds by showing them the cooking journey from start to finish.
What I Learned
Technology can never trump practicality, and a feature set is determined by customer usage more than intellectual property opportunities. It can be difficult to build a product that is both for the future and the present, A network effect can be especially difficult to achieve when it relies on appliances to strengthen an ecosystem. The ability for feature to adapt based on the customer tastes, allergies, and unique usage is as important as the technology itself. Adaptability is the best ways to achieve sustainability. The kitchen is an intimate space, and products that enter it should empower, and not attempt to replace the people who populate it.
What I Loved
Products begin to get exciting when they enter the ‘meat space’. For Innit, this meant the outcome of a successful product integration was the consumption of a delicious meal. Tasting the Chicken is the ultimate KPI. Customer testing was measured in both users and calories, and features were created to enable more of the magical feeling of cooking something to perfection. As designers, our challenge is to find the right mix of features to build a product that doesn’t outstay its welcome when traveling between a diverse set of environments.
Research, Design, Prototyping