Venture Catalyst Challenge 2015 alumnus company CHOPCHOP has launched its app on Apple's App Store today.
CHOPCHOP is “a smart cooking guide backed by Artificial Intelligence (AI).” It provides dynamic, step-by-step guidance for cooking any combination of dishes for your meal.
“At the core is a dynamic task management algorithm that manages several processes simultaneously”, says JinA Bae, CEO of CHOPCHOP, “Simply put, it translates how an experienced chef plans and cooks multiple dishes efficiently and replicates the experience of being personally guided by a professional chef in the home kitchen.”
To achieve this, the team have applied ideas from quantum physics and biological optimisation. This is the work of Max Frenzel, a PhD student at Imperial’s Controlled Quantum Dynamics Centre for Doctoral Training. He built the core algorithm from the ground up in six months and continues to work on it today.
“Historically, recipes are static pieces of information, which is to say that each recipe gives you a set sequence for one dish. The problem arises when you need to combine several recipes at once, such as at a dinner party”, explains Frenzel.
“What we’ve tried to do with CHOPCHOP was breakdown the steps of several recipes into components, such as required pre-conditions and timings, which allows steps from separate recipes to be fit around each other. The algorithm is then able to find the optimal sequence of steps for any combination of dishes.”
The result is an algorithm that is capable of tracking the user’s progress and continuously readjusts the remaining cooking sequence to be the most optimal in terms of time and convenience.
Co-founder & CEO of CHOPCHOP
The core team, a mix of technology developers, business people, and chefs, met at Startup Weekend London 2014 and began developing the project. They later joined Imperial Create Lab’s Venture Catalyst Challenge (VCC).
The VCC is the world’s first and only business pre-accelerator focused on deep science and is co-run by Imperial Innovations and Imperial College London. It invites entrepreneurial students and alumni from Imperial to start and test their business ideas. During six weeks, the programme connects teams with mentors and advisors with expertise in their respective areas.
“The VCC was very good in stress-testing our idea”, says Bae, “everyone we met really scrutinised CHOPCHOP and gave different perspectives of what was good about it and what could be improved.”
It was during VCC that CHOPCHOP attended the World Mobile Conference in Barcelona. There, the app won the Audience Choice Award for 4YFN’s “Disrupted by Mobile” category. CHOPCHOP was also recognised as one of the best UK startups in 2015 at Pitch@Palace 4.0, hosted by the Duke of York. In August 2015, the team raised seed-round grant funding from the European Commission as part of the EuropeanPioneers accelerator in Berlin, where they were selected as one of 13 teams out of 660 applications.
CHOPCHOP’s goal is to become fully ingrained in the home kitchen. “We want CHOPCHOP to communicate with all your smart kitchen devices and automate as much as possible”, explains Bae, “For example, it could track your progress and turn on your oven for pre-heating at the optimum time.”
Co-founder & Algorithm Developer of CHOPCHOP
The team is already working on new features.
“We’re looking to improve CHOPCHOP in several ways. Firstly, we would like to make the app more personal: the AI will one day be able to deduce your skill level & experience and adapt the sequence accordingly. It will also respond to changing conditions: if a mistake is made, the app will be able to recalculate a new workflow”, says Frenzel, “We are also working on applications of natural language processing so that users are able to add in their own recipes to be interpreted by the AI, making the number of recipes available to CHOPCHOP nearly infinite.”