Overly-sensitive electronics in the kitchen?

“The iPad is just so cute and charming. I clean the screen every time I use it, to keep it sparkling clean. It would be unforgivable if I somehow got a scratch on it.” Those are the same people who throw a pacifier in boiling water every time their child drops it on the ground. By the time they have a third child, a dropped pacifier would only be given a quick brush on their pants before they stick it back in the child’s mouth.

Some people prefer to have a printed book in the kitchen, rather than potentially damaging their device. I admit that the iPad is a great piece of design, but, hey this thing uses a hardened glass display and the case is made of aluminum. Are you worried about water or fat damaging that? Well, I have tested my iPad under the harshest of conditions that the kitchen can offer. It came through much better than any of my cookbooks would.

I once made 200 cupcakes for birthdays and (with less grace than better cooks than myself) had to navigate on my iPad with dough, butter, icing and lemon marmalade on my fingers. It was quit a relief to see that a damp towel cleaned off the surface very nicely. Some people love the battle scars that their cookbooks get from cooking. I don’t.

Even hot splattering oil didn’t seem to affect my iPad. Admittedly, I wouldn’t normally put my iPad or even a cookbook directly beside the stovetop, but I wanted to see what would happen. This time I did need to lightly add a touch of dish soap to the damp cloth. I have used computer screen clothes, too. They work well.

If that weren’t enough reassurance, then I would recommend you take a look at the “Chef Sleeve”. These are disposable, washable plastic sleeves for tablets. Your iPad is still touch sensitive, but you now have a worry free cover. The use a film called “EcoTouchHD”, which is specifically developed for this kind of in-kitchen usage.

We have been researching ways of interacting with your iPad without touching it. First, we looked into speech recognition. I did quite a bit of work with speech recognition back in the 90′s, so I was quite familiar with the capabilities and limitations. It worked quite well, until we tried cooking with the iPad 6 feet (2 meters) away from the stove, where we were working. Speech recognition relies upon the speech being clear, but a kitchen with something cooking in the pan and the vent on full blast adds a lot of ambient noise. To compensate for this we need to say the commands even louder. For me, cooking has always been a means to get away from the day-to-day stress. Once I start yelling at my iPad, that sense of relaxation is gone.

That having been said, we are optimistic that gesture recognition will be a viable solution. We’ll keep you updated on our progress here.

So, don’t worry that your tablet can’t take the abuse of the kitchen. It has survived more than a few of my children’s birthday parties. If you need certainty, though, definitely use the Chef Sleeves.