SousChef: a hands free cookbook with goofy Google goggles

Google Glass Cooking

A group of Harvard Business School students want to help you become a better cook with their Google Glass app SousChef.

The virtual cooking assistant does its best to get out of the way, utilizing voice triggers to navigate the pages of recipes that display ingredients and instructions overtop a corresponding image.

But developing for the Glass platform comes with certain challenges: social acceptance for one.

“There’s a stigma around wearing Glass in public,” admitted cofounder Derek Geiger.

Google Glass is still in the “explorer” phase, available to a hand-selected group of people with $1,500 to spare and enough brazen gall to don the geeky form factor.

SousChef addresses that stigma by being a functional use case for wearable technology in the privacy of one’s home, Geiger said.

2014-04-20 14.40.43

While missing a kitchen or ahi tuna steaks, the team nevertheless invited me to Harvard’s Innovation Lab for a demo of the application.

The early incarnation of SousChef feels promising. For many, smartphones and tablets all but eliminated the need for an analog cookbook, but SousChef also addresses the issue of fiddling for the power button on your smartphone while elbow deep in ground beef.

2014-04-20 14.30.12

After starting a recipe with the touch of a finger, the rest of the experience is completely hands free. Telling the glasses “Next Step” or “Go Back” navigates the pages of the image and text based instructions, a clear improvement over constantly referring to a cookbook or smart device with messy digits.

We can only hope the spectacles include an athletic strap to keep the pricey hardware from falling victim to a whirling Kitchen Aid.

2014-04-20 14.29.55

The team is working with local chefs to improve their product and have all but signed the papers with a major recipe website to funnel content to SousChef, the team said, opting not to disclose the names of chefs or the recipe website.

Right now the team’s major competitor AllTheCooks already holds a large database of visually stunning recipes but its Glass app fails to take advantage of wearable tech benefits, the SousChef team said.

“They aren’t even hands free,” Geiger said.

In the early stages of Glass, applications that add little functionality to a pre-existing incarnation of software seem common. As an example, Means used the Glass Facebook app which offers little more than push notifications from a tethered smartphone.

“You can’t just take your smartphone app and put it on Glass,” Means said.

The experience needs to be tailored to the platform. For SousChef the goal is user experience, highlighting the convenience of wearable technology. The team hopes to be selected as a featured app in the marketplace by the time Glass officially launches, the date for which remains unknown.

Once the UX is locked in the team will explore revenue models, possibly integrating native advertising and product placement. For example steps for a cookie recipe might appear overtop images of Dominos sugar and Land’O’Lakes butter, said Shaheen Shah, a co-founder and engineer for SousChef.

In the meantime, becoming a leader with a tailored Glass-specific experience is paramount for SousChef.

“We’re aggressively laser focused on the user experience,” said Means.

George is a regular contributor to BetaBoston, and can be reached at
Follow George on Twitter - Google+