"What's more important than feeding yourself?" asks 23 year-old industrial designer Amanda Savitzky. Amanda knows that independence in the kitchen is an important skill to gain, but one that typically eludes people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), like her brother Steven. With Steven's challenges with ASD in mind, Amanda designed an integrated cooking prep system called Match for her thesis project in industrial design at Syracuse University. Her design was so comprehensive, well-researched, and effective, it won the $10,000 top prize in the 2013 Metropolis Next Generation Competition. Read on to see how it works.
Cooking prep can be a challenge for people with ASD because fetching and measuring ingredients may get confusing and frustrating. Additionally, the kitchen environment can seem overwhelming with all of its sounds, sights, smells and textures, not to mention that directions for typical recipes can be hard to follow. Amanda focused on these specific issues and designed a solution that built in routine and repetition, utilized color and shape cues for visual learning, integrated tactical feedback for positive reinforcement and acted as a supportive system for both teacher and student.
The Match Cooking Prep System consists of measuring cups, prep bowls and an iPad app for recipe support. Four measuring cups, complete with easy-to-grip handles come in four different shapes and colors in accordance to their volume: the red pentagon is one cup, the yellow square is half a cup, the green triangle is a third of a cup and the blue circle is a quarter cup. The cups sit on a wooden board where the corresponding shapes are cut into the base where each cup locks into place with a magnet. Three prep bowls of varying sizes sit on another wooden board to mix ingredients and to keep things organized and easy to handle. The iPad app helps caregivers and tutors translate common recipes into interactive slide shows. The app breaks a recipe into a simple set of tasks that the user can scroll through and applies the colors and shapes of the Match measuring cups in place of the numeric measurements.