For this week’s Kitchen Tech Wednesday, we interviewed Stefano Marangoni, the Team Leader behind Thingk’s GK series. The GK series includes GKILO, a smart food scale, and CLOGK, a smart kitchen timer. You can read last week’s Kitchen Tech Wednesday blog post here: Kitchen Tech Wednesday: SodaStream.
Range Hoods Inc interviewed Stefano Marangoni, the Team Leader at Thingk. Stefano and his colleagues at a hi-tech multinational company came together. They built a team of technology gurus, engineers and designers to create GKILO and CLOGK.
GKILO is a wooden food scale with a LED display that appears when you touch it. When it turn it over, the display becomes a clock. CLOGK looks similar but is a timer.
Range Hoods Inc: Please explain how the devices are designed to be wireless ready, such as the wireless module built-in. Also please explain the wireless add on.
Stefano Marangoni: The production of a high quality product, with high design, good materials and a modern user experience, is very expensive and the cost of the single product depends a lot on the production volume. For this reason, we declared a stretch goal in our campaign: with $200,000 USD, we will include in our products a wireless module that completes the functionality of the devices.
The wireless add-on is based on Bluetooth technology, which has low power consumption and is included in all smart phones. In the case of the $200,000 USD goal, we will include in our products a module developed by our team.
As of now, we are at about $50,000 USD, so we do not have enough budget to develop the custom module. However, we designed our products to be wireless ready: in our PCB core we have a USB port, driven by a FTDI chip. Thanks to this, we can manage serial communication. Thus, if one of our customers wants to add the wireless functionality, he or she can buy a module. We are developing firmware to manage this communication, and we will be happy to share the firmware with our customers.
RHI: Where did you get the idea for a device that looks like a decoration or paper weight until it is touched for use?
Stefano: We believe in Open Design, and we think this “philosophy” will change the role and the working method of tech companies. For this reason, from the beginning, we involved our network (designers, geeks, but also common people) to understand their needs and to collect suggestions on the best user interface. Then, and this was the most difficult part, we worked to give a natural touch to our products. We were inspired by the concept of Animism, so we tried to create devices that seem natural and totally unanimated; only when you touch them, they switch on and show their functionality.
RHI: Will customers be able to pull up recipes in the mobile app?
Stefano: We are working on the app development, and we are open to suggestions. For example, some backers asked us to introduce an “automatic scaling” of the ingredients. In a recipe, you have the quantities for a certain number of people. However, sometimes you want to cook smaller quantities, so we are developing a function in the app to give you the ability to weigh one ingredient and automatically scale the other ones in the recipe. We are also talking with our colleagues from “Oh my Cook!” in Polihub (the start up incubator we are in) to integrate recipes in our mobile app.
RHI: What future projects does THINGK hope to accomplish?
Stefano: We want to introduce one series per year, exploring all the range of everyday objects and try to innovate them. We are working on a mirror, which will be able to give you useful information and on a pillow that detects when you are asleep and that is able to switch on and off electronic devices and lights. It will also monitor your sleep/wake cycles. And we are also working on a disruptive device, but I can’t tell you anything more: it’s an early stage project! However, beside single devices, our goal is to revolutionize the segment of everyday products, introducing a new way of thinking in this category.
RHI: Where does THINGK see the human-machine relationship going and progressing?
Stefano: We started with servers, then we introduced the Personal Computer; in the last decade smart phones have become a fundamental piece of our everyday life. Now, every new version of a traditional tech object is improved with Internet functions: smart TVs, cars. It’s only a matter of time, but humanity tends to be more and more surrounded by technology. It’s normal: we are the smartest and the more social animal species, and we cannot accept anymore to interact with objects that are not smart and not “social” or connected each other. Intelligence and sociality are part of us and we tend to construct a world that is similar to us.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this in-depth interview with Stefano from Thingk. What is your favorite smart technology?