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Someone needs to invent a microwave that scans the barcode of your food and cooks it the way it’s supposed to be cooked.

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I feel as though the directions on the back are never quite optimal as it is though

307 points · 6 months ago

True, but the microwave could be smart enough to know it's own wattage, therefore it would cook the food appropriately regardless of the instructions

Would you like the package directions or the crowd sourced user rated best heating mode?

117 points · 6 months ago

Or your saved setting from last time?

17 points · 6 months ago


7 points · 6 months ago




A comment.

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Then in the near future you could have a decentralized crowd sourced user rated heating mode consensus system worth multiple billions as an altcoin

Oh god

I see it now

The elite hacker known as 4-chan has hacked all the worlds' microwaves. Due to the hack, all automated cook cycles now cause your microwave to torch your food.

11 points · 6 months ago

except for hot pockets which for whatever reason are cooked at a precisely optimal temperature

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2 points · 6 months ago

I feel a Kickstarter coming on...

The article doesn't go too deeply into the system, but it seems adequate. It also mentions something that I hadn't taken into account for microwave cooking.

Altitude. This is something that affects baking, which I do some, yet I hadn't thought about it affecting microwaving foods. The lower atmospheric pressure will allow water to boil at a lower temperature and the boiling of the water is what cooks food in the microwave.

Ahhh! So for quicker cook times you should keep the microwave on the floor! The real life pro tip is always in the comments.

It should make a huge difference, if the distance from the countertop to the floor is 4000ft.

Look at these fucking casuals microwaving your hot pockets above your basement

My mom cooks mine, so I don't even know how the process works. Magic!

3 points · 6 months ago

It's like their second floor isn't even an airplane

That's not necessarily true. Microwaves just heat water molecules. If the water molecules reach boiling then they turn to steam. You can heat steam though beyond boiling temperature with a microwave.

The plastic film should act like a pressure cooker and contain a tiny little atmosphere of steam. Altitude is mostly a problem with open boiling where all water > boiling temperature leaves the cooking process. So if you are at high altitude your water will never break say 90C instead of 100C. In a plastic bag, the water will never break 90C but the steam won't leave.

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I think it goes back to the fact than even at those correct wattages, the food is still not at its best temperature more often than not when using the microwave ‘with directions’.

Yeah, for the life of me, every microwave I've ever used, the wattage is never posted anywhere I can find it. So I always have to guess what the wattage is.

Why is the wattage not on any of the stickers inside the microwave?! They've got these stickers with all sorts of useless information on them, but one of the most important things to know about your microwave is nowhere to be found.

You can nuke a measured amount of water for a certain amount of time and measure the change in temp. link


I thought every normal microwave oven was 900W?

Some are 1100w, 1200w, off the top of my head, those sound like familiar numbers. Anyway, microwaves DO have unique variable wattages, else why would cooking instructions sometimes specify to take note of your microwave's wattage, and adjust cooking time accordingly?

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Most old microwaves seems underpowered. Most new ones seems overpowered. Always have to adjust it manually. Even letting it microwave at 70% strength

My microwave has a “smart” setting that somehow knows when whatever I’m heating is done.

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Original Poster36 points · 6 months ago

True. I think it could work crowd sourced as well. Because there are people out there who have figured out the perfect bag of popcorn. Probably upload it onto an app or something for their brand of microwave

8 points · 6 months ago

Count the time between pops. When it reaches two seconds between pops get the bag out and let it seton the counter until the popping stops. Enjoy.

I just use the popcorn button on mine. It has a moisture sensor and cooks a damn good bag of popcorn everytime. No need to count pops or really even think.

1 point · 6 months ago · edited 6 months ago

Popcorn button until it's on 14 seconds, you will thank me later edit:spelling

I'll definitely be thinking about you later

Aight, so how about not just the perfect bag of popcorn but the perfect anything you put in the microwave?

So you scan the barcode on Hot Pockets, the microwave automatically cooks it perfectly according to the instructions, and you still end up with nuclear plasma surrounding a frozen solid center. There must be a better way.

First of all, it's a microwave. What else uses microwaves? Radar. Heck, the first Amana microwaves were called Radaranges, because they thought it sounded cool, I guess.

There are phased array radars that use multiple antennas to steer a beam from planar arrays. So instead of [one big magentron and one waveguide] (http://www.madehow.com reflecting the beam off a "stirrer fan" (think of a fan where the fan blades are mirrors, only instead of reflecting visible light they're bouncing microwave energy all over the box) we use multiple smaller magnetrons in a phased array, take advantage of FLIR style infrared radar to map different densities and hot vs. cold areas, and then adjust our beam direction and intensity accordingly in real time to voila cook efficiently and evenly to a given temperature.

By not being time dependent but temperature dependent, we can just have the thing cook food to its safe minimum cooking temperature or better and ding it's done as soon as it's safe to eat (or whatever temperature above the minimum that you want).

TL;DR: Forget scanning barcodes, just pop your food in and press one button: Go. The AI in the oven will cook it perfectly without you doing a thing and then let you know when it's ready.

Especially those that just say "heat for 2 minutes", without specifying at all how much power they assumed. My family owned one microwave oven with a 600W magnetron, and one with a 1200W magnetron, that's quite a range.

Cheap microwaves tend to be 600. regular ones are usually 750-800 and the high power ones are 900 at max settings. at least here in europe.

In the states, the standard is 1000 watts. They also play the Star-Spangled Banner during the cooking cycle.

I'm the states they are 1.5hp, or about 1118watts

I can't fit a whole horse in mine.

Try a chainsaw

I just remember that we had one with 600W, and I once saw one with 1200W (in our office I think), these were the first two power ratings I could think of.

1.21 gigawatts is the first power rating I could think of.

Holy fuck 600W!? do you have to cook hot pockets for like 3 minutes?

The first microwave oven we ever had at home was a 600W model, as far as I remember. Those two power ratings were just the first that I could think of. My basic point was just that there is variation in power among microwave ovens, and most cooking instructions do not properly take those into account, which is made worse by the ovens not having a properly labelled power setting, but usually just "levels", or fractions.

Yeah but seriously did it take you 3 minutes to cook a hot pocket

I've never seen a hot pocket up close, so I never cooked one either.

To be honest, I am not even entirely sure what a hot pocket is.


That's what a hot pocket is

they wouldn't be ice lava ice if you gave them a minute to equalize in temperature.

It's like a big ol' totino's pizza roll.

totino's pizza roll.

Thank you for attempting an explanation, but I never even heard of those.

this guy is living a very uncultured life my friends.

Like a flattish sausage roll with pizza inside instead of a sausage.

They make ham and cheese and other flavors too. They aren't very good but they are quick, easy, filling, relatively inexpensive and decent enough to toss down now and again.

A hot pocket I mean.

A totinos pizza roll is just a wee lil hot pocket

It's like a calzone's shitty cousin

Basically a microwaved single-serve calzone. The ham and cheese ones are my go to "shit it's 3 am and I haven't eaten anything today" meal

I'm lucky. My microwave is 1100w, which is what most companies use as a baseline for the times they give.

That being said my hot pockets are still frozen inside, so it doesn't matter much anyway.

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105 points · 6 months ago

Already exists. It's complicated and expensive:

You can get an instant pot that runs off an app too

17 points · 6 months ago

instant pot


Had to double check the subreddit to make sure I wasn't on /r/trees

They had ones that did this much cheaper a decade ago:

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Never used a microwave before, heard they make the frogs gay

I heard they are dangerous and give you heart attacks and cancer.

Don't say that too loudly or the microwave might hear you

Yeah, and then the blabbermouth microwave will tattle to the TV.

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Looks like something straight out of r/subredditsimulator

Nope, just regular old cancer.

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I prefer throwing the box in the garbage, forgetting the directions, then pulling the box out of the garbage 2 or 3 times.

I get where you're coming from OP! I have no idea how many watts microwaves are that aren't mine.

There is always a label that lists the wattage of a microwave. Occasionally it's on the back and inaccessible but oftentimes it's inside the door.

It would be incredibly easy to just state the power instead of some ominous "level" when preparing the oven.

Instead of 1..10, they could just as well display 100W..1000W (or whatever the power range would be).

5 points · 6 months ago

The problem with microwaves is they are all or nothing, at least basic ones (I don't know about more expensive ones). So level 10 might be it's maximum wattage, but so is level 1-9. I.e. if you set a microwave for 1 minute, power10 and it's 1000w you get 1000w for 1 minute. If you put level 5 for 1 minute you get 1000w for 30 seconds and it's usually 10 seconds on 10 seconds off, alternating for a full minute. In the end out of 60 seconds, only 30 seconds was actually getting the power (hence 5/10 or half). It'd be the same thing if you set the microwave on 10 seconds and after the time was up you waited 10 seconds to do it again, it just does that for you.

3 points · 6 months ago · edited 6 months ago

I know that. The basic construction of a magnetron doesn't really allow direct power regulation, so they have to rely on what essentially amounts to PWM.

Still, the average power output is lowered in this pulsed manner, and it's a huge difference if you put food in a 600W oven or a 1200W oven, so if the food says it should be heated at 500W for a minute, those proper labels would help a lot.

They should just adjust the times for the top 3 most common microwave wattage. Idk what it is, but let's say 700w, 900w, 1100w, and have times for each. Microwaves should also be created in a standard (like make them all 1000w across the board) or at a MINIMUM put a label in a standard location, like a car VIN, right on the inside of the door. It's easier to find the input (120v) which is extremely obvious than it is to find the power output in watts.

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Not always! I've seen plenty of microwaves in common spaces that don't have that sticker anywhere I can find.

You have to put your hand in and feel it in those cases

Why not the tongue? I think the tongue is more sensitive to taste than the fingers, then that way I can taste the wattage.

I'm saving mine for 9v. batteries.

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♫ ...Stick your head in the microwave and give yourself a tan...

Mine is right above the display.

Monkey Wards. No label, not even on the back. But I have a cooking thermometer...

I also have a kill-a-watt wattmeter, and it sucks down about twice as many watts from the power grid as it pumps into the food, so my 650 watt oven draws almost exactly 1300 watts from the wall outlet.

You just set it inside the microwave, it scans the QR Code designed into the packaging and it does the rest. Wouldn’t even need it to be hooked up to WiFi. You could build a library of simple instructions into the microwave. Basically just time and wattage.

This is a perfect example of a great idea that will get stuck in the business side of it. What you say would definitely work, until you realize that it requires all companies to put your QR code on their product. Why would they do that? This will cost you money, so now you are paying companies to make it possible for your customers to use your product. Making a profit is going to be tough.

Also, your number one competing "product" is written text on the products (that's already there) that takes maybe 1 minute to read and apply to current microwaves.

Not trying to shut you down or anything, just found it an interesting example :) In case you haven't stopped reading yet because I'm being a smartass: I heard about this microwave / oven that is able to cook using infrared etc. Might be fun to look up if you're into this sort of thing. I think Ashton Kutcher was investing in it and talked about it on one of the main talkshows.

I enjoyed your comment! Read it all, haha. You’re right though. In theory it’s neat but not feasible really.

Patented way back in the late 1970's. Nothing ever became of it. Instead of time and wattage, I'd do it with required power density per cubic centimeter and let the microwave figure it out.

700 and 1100 are commom. If you have 700 you might consider adding some time to most suggestions

14 points · 6 months ago

Tea earl grey hot.

Make it so.

Well this isn't a Microwave but it is a small oven called the Tovala ( that I supported on Kickstarter that kind of does what you are looking for. It only works on the food stuff you order through their plan though. You just scan the barcode and stick it in the oven and it cooks it exactly like it should.

Trying to store / update a constantly shifting UPC database to attempt to guess what kind of food it is and cook it probably isn't an easy or wise thing to do. Especially if the incorrect detection rate on those UPC codes is high and it ends up cooking your corn like a frozen ham :)

I work for Tovala! I’ve been on the team since October 2016 and it’s made weeknights with my family infinitely better. No cooking or prep to do and limited dishes — plus we eat way better now. Not a microwave but yeah, glad you mentioned it here. And thanks for supporting the Kickstarter!

Not sure how much of a concern an incorrect scan is. Bar codes have a check digit which almost always prevent these issues. When's the last time you've been to the grocery store and the barcode read wrong?

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Side note: my friend started that company!

my wife puts everything on HIGH for 10 minutes. I don't care what it is. She knows its done when you hear a big 'Whoomf' and theres an explosion of food residue on all the interior walls of the microwave.

My microwave fucking annihilates my eggs after 2 minutes (just today even with a cover, it exploded so hard half of the fucking eggs were no longer in the bowl) but any less they are a watery mess. I feel like the $15 Chinese microwave I got is a Sith Lord, meaning it deals only in absolutes

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Or you could just read for half a sec... I’m all for tech but c’mon

Original Poster21 points · 6 months ago

Not really the point. It would be that the microwave would know the perfect timing. Because ever cook a hot pocket, not know you have a 1500 watt microwave or a 1000 and it’s either overcooked or undercooked? Not so much for laziness, but more for accuracy of intended taste/doneness.

This guy microwaves.

13 points · 6 months ago

Laziness is the epitome of human ipseity. Every technology has its beginnings through some human saying, "I ain't got time for this. Let there be something else that'll do the work." Being lazy is our greatest strength, as well as our greatest weakness. Tis be a double edge sword.

Not all technology was thought of due to laziness, some things simply couldn't be done without it, such as the wheel allowing movement of much heavier things than previously possible, not just "I can't be bothered to carry this boulder, this wheel can do it for me."

How the fuck do you not know the wattage of your microwave?

It's literally right on the door when you open it

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My first thought was “that’s pretty lazy when there are instructions.”

My second thought was “wait, I need that... especially with popcorn!”

My third thought was “I should be cooking more and microwaving less.”

Too much thinking... I need a nap.

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4 points · 6 months ago

Ity has already been done. It's realtively easy, and can be repliocated at home.

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6 points · 6 months ago

Dude it’s a microwave. Figure it the fuck out

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Great idea. The food manufacturer could specify different power levels for different amounts of time. The frozen chicken package could have a thaw function tuned to the mass of the chicken. A tea cup could have a barcode on it that gives a hot but not scalding temperature.

3 points · 6 months ago

My microwave has a Frozen Entrée button that I ignored for many, many years. I tried it one day and was not disappointed. Now after trying it several times on different dishes, I’m all in for the one button press.

One possible problem with this idea is that what the manufacturer claims is the wattage level will vary, sometimes significantly. Few if any have ever returned a microwave because it claimed 1100 watts but only delivered 950. But that difference could impact cooking time. It could mean everything you scanned could be slightly under or over-done. This is why a thermometer is used to give a second opinion and check internal temperatures.

3 points · 6 months ago

Things would have to be standardized across all microwave and food manufacturers. Data matrix? Code 128? QR Code?

Any serialization and other extraneous data would need delimiters to parse them out and get only the part responsible for cooking instructions.

Why not add a 'QR' COOKCODE, add it to products as a standard which contains the cook time/power in the code. Then the device does not need to store anything. It just has to know how to read the standardized QR code.

There’s a subscription service like this, called Tovala. But in order to do it you need to buy a tovala steam oven, which are expensive. They send you meals with qrcodes, and once you scan the qr code it cooks the meal specifically to what comes with it. Pretty interesting but not as free financially and less freedom with what you can scan. I have one and personally give it an 8/10. You can still toast bread and warm things in it tho so ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Are people really this lazy? How on earth do some people get anywhere in life.

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Scans the barcode then uses the stove and/or oven to cook it?

I refuse to use the words "cook" and "microwave" in the same sentence.

“Item not recognized. Please use only KeurigTM brand microwaveable foods”

Check out the Tovala!

Or we could just standardize wattage. Then they just print time + power level

2 points · 6 months ago

Cool, I’ll just put my Campbell’s soup in the microwave

Not gonna lie, thats a fantastic idea. It doesnt have to work perfectly, the marketing strategy alone would be great. And tons of companies would hop on board claiming their food tastes best when using this barcode, causing sales to rise.

Yeah but how do you put a serial number on a bowl of cereal?

Why are you cooking cereal?

Some people refer to oatmeal as "hot cereal".

Why haven’t I learned this at college?! Jk

You eat it raw?

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Or, you might say, a cereal number

I'm not quite sure that you can consider the job the microwave does, cooking. Its job is more like sporadically heating its contents.

Someone did this with an R-Pi connected to a microwave a while back. It has been sometime since i have seen it, though it may be on youtube somewhere.

Where's Jack Donaghy when you need him??

Did you also invent the Juicero?

This is genius, or at least a microwave with programmable options. Eat the same microwaved meal once a week? Just hit 1.

While some may think of this as lazy, I see this as a tremendous help for the visualy impared or the elderly, ESPECIALLY if the microwave could find the bar code or qr code on its own without the user having to locate it and scan it. Make it simple. Take food from freezer. Place in microwave. Press big friendly green start button. Microwave locates code and programs itself to run the correct amount of time. DING! Correct amount of time later, Hot pockets are done.

It does if you buy an expensive microwave.

Bagel Bites cook at 400 degrees for 12 minutes but if you go with the instructions of 15 minutes, it will burn.

Maybe it should be you.

I like this haha

What about the directions that require you to stir the food half way?

If you had a combo microwave/MRI, and steerable microwave antennas, you could optimally heat any food. The only downside would be the fact that your microwave cost a billion dollars, and could detect cancer

i thought of this a couple of years ago. Turns out there already is a patent for it. Way back in 2000. Patent

You would be better off with a microwave that could detect what it's cooking and automtiacally adjust accordingly.

Who the hell is gonna sit there updating whatever database is needed to keep track of ALL the products that could possibly be put in to the microwave... Plus you would have to test each product to confirm the correct instructions... This gets dumber the more i think about it.

This is actually genius.

I have one where you just select which food item it is. Deep frozen, frozen, mild warmup, slowmode etc. I think it's enough.

Somebody was doing a project like that. It was powered by a raspberry pi I believe.

This is actually an incredible idea. I'd buy that microwave.

"product identified: Starbucks Mocha in glass bottle" Proceeds to use highest power and make it explode and melt the glass into a puddle of glowing goo with the smell of burnt coffee.

Can't prevent human stupidity.

100% have read this showerthought before

You did, you just invited that. Go patent that and take make my money.

Whirlpool and Jenn air have this coming out this year.

That ain't a bad idea, yknow

Why would you give this idea to everyone instead of patenting it? Great job. Someone else is going to do this and get rich.

Original Poster1 point · 6 months ago

There’s already a patent.

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Fuck yes!

1 point · 6 months ago

Most instructions are for 1100W microwaves. The ones you either see you at your parents' house or at your friend's, who is married and has a house. If you are anyone else, your microwave is a 700W one. Just add like 30 seconds or a minute to the time.

You mean produce, nothing there to 'invent'

There are Combi ovens that have a built in computer screen so you can select the food and how you want it cooked, for meats you insert the built in thermometer and it will cook the food and once finished it just becomes a warming chamber and will keep it at temp til you open it up!

Literally just got a microwave for my house that does this. Reasonably priced model from Lowes.

The technology is brand new

The June smart oven can already do that.

1 point · 6 months ago

Dude microwaves just don't work very well.

The bell peppers I just bought don't have a bar code tho

All microwaves are different, it would require for all microwaves to be coded/set differently unless all the microwaves are connected together and are automatically adjusted to the required energy to cook de food.

My friend had this same idea years ago and wanted to take it on shark tank. Brandon? Is that you?

It's the internet of things, and you don't want it.

So much of what I microwave did not come directly from a package with a bar code on it.

I've used calorie counting apps and have to input most of the items that I eat. I expect the database used for this would be the same.

Also, the dish you put the food in makes a difference, and this feature could not take that into account.

This seems like lazy taken to an extreme and that comes from a damn lazy person. Also connecting your microwave to the internet (Which would be required for this) would give another avenue for forced advertisements.

Is it lazy to have a machine that can tell how long your food needs to actually cook for? So you can enjoy it and not have a hot pocket that is ice-lava-ice?

Sounds to me like you don't know how to cook a hot pocket. You put it in the sleeve thing and put it on for two minutes, 2 and half if you're cooking two. That's standard 1000 Watt microwave. They usually go for about $40 USD at Wal-Mart.

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This could be awesome if possible

Samsung made one quite a while back

Why not you invent it instead of someone else?

My hunch is that microwaves are inexact & having people choose the cooktime hides this

1 point · 6 months ago

Or one that uses infrared red .

At last! An internet-of-things device that would actually make a difference to peoples lives.

This is just a great idea 👍

Nah thanks man, don't want a Juicero repeat.

It is a thing in South Korea. Saw one in a university dorm. Scan a small write code and the microwave got its instructions.

You forgot to end with "god damnit!"

How would you get the barcode in the microwave?

Pretty sure a YouTuber (mark robber?) put a inferred camera in a microwave so you could see how hot w/e you're cooking is. Last time I checked he was trying to sell this as a product.

...but if you microwave leftovers

No food that is cooked in a microwave should ever be consumed, other than popcorn. Microwaves are only good for re-heating food.

I would buy that microwave.😀

Never happen. The problem is if the microwaving is automatic, you'll realize the food is SUPPOSED to taste like that.

Original Poster1 point · 6 months ago

Username checks out. I believe the sausage king of Chicago.

I rarely cook microwave meals with the outer sleeve still on, but im 100% going to steal this idea nonetheless.

I microwaved this poptart for 3 seconds, AND IT'S STILL TOO COLD!

If your microwave could WiFi to your phone then your phone could scan the product.

Until you get grease on the scanner...or anything on the plate...and it ends up at the dump. Much easier to throw out than clean. Troof!

No we just need a tablet glued to the fridge, LG and Samsung need to work on THIS lol

Be pretty easy to have a microwave that could reference the internet, set exact details base on the model and power output, and set the time and levels to match. It would expect their need WiFi for a IoT connection, but totally doable. Wouldn’t even need a barcode reader. Would just need an import for the food code. Type it into your microwave and it references a site and the reset is plug and chug.

Anyone own a microwave manufacturing company and looking for a project?

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