From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Future Food Institute — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.
Matthew Oswald is an innovator, maker, and creator. He says that being a maker is a “subversive act.” Shifting from consumer to producer in any way is its own reward. “We can yell out to the world that we’re going to build it ourselves and we’re going to share exactly how we did it with everyone,” he says. Matthew firmly believes in the DIY approach, and for this reason he is a part of our Future Food Zone in World Maker Fair New York. He presented Mugsy, the world’s first hackable, customizable, robotic coffee maker. We sat down with him and asked some questions.
Matthew, how did you start working on Mugsy?
Sure! Mugsy is a coffee making robot that runs with Raspberry Pie and Arduino. I initially started this as a way to teach myself hardware design. I usually only build software and I wanted to make something I could hold in my hand. I basically took Mr. Coffee and I held it up to a Raspberry Pie. I was living in Seattle around that time and they said that this was very cool! But how does the coffee taste? Really bad!
Initially my plan was just to teach myself how to do something, so every time I learned something new, I found a way to relate that back to my project. For instance, when I wanted to learn about artificial intelligence or when I wanted to learn about RGB LEDs, I found new knowledge to integrate into Mugsy.
Wow, so it was actually learning by doing. How did you end up having Mugsy as we see it today?
All those things I’ve learned are now the basic functions of Mugsy. Mugsy allows everybody to control every aspect of the coffee making process. Water temperature, brewing time, emergent time, grain size, and so on. It allows you to control everything you want in your coffee! Every aspect is controllable and configurable, both for people who just want coffee and for the ones who are more concerned about taking care of their well-being. It started as a learning platform for myself and, thanks to all the things I’ve learned, it turned out to be a much bigger project!
How can the user interact with the machine?
In several ways. Users can send a text message saying “Hey, make my coffee!” or Tweeting at it. All the possible details of you coffee can be changed from your phone too!
For our makers community, how could Mugsy help them?
This is a fully open source API I’ve developed that you can find on Github. You can use the code I’ve developed to make other machines. It’s turned the hardware, accessible by a Raspberry Pie and an Arduino, into a very simple web-based API. So just like you would code a website, you can use those same types of code to control the motors.
So if you don’t know exactly how an Arduino or a Raspberry Pie work (which you should learn at some point, eh!), you could very simply make a robot. The software brain is the main part.
So, will you deliver some hardware at some point?
Yes! So this is still the pre-manufacturing project but we’re really close to having all of our factories lined up for production. We’re launching a Kickstarter campaign in about 2 to 3 months where we want to sell just 100 units for about $200-250 each. It will be fully open source. So you can download all the different models to laser cut or 3D print on GitHub and make it yourself!
This sounds like a really great project and an inspiring maker. He really believes in the maker movement; everything he is making is completely open source and he plans to use the crowd for getting fundings as well. Makers, keep an eye on Matthew, it seems he will keep on bringing many more interesting creations to life!