In this project, a lunch restaurant kitchen was analysed and evaluated from a cognitive ergonomics point of view. 

The goal of the project was to perform empirical and theoretical studies of a restaurant kitchen as a system as well as an oven from a cognitive ergonomics perspective. And in the end develop a concept that solves the main usage problems that were discovered. 

our process

Observation and interviews were made together with personell working in the kitchen using several evaluation methods from a cognitive ergonomics perspective.

The starting point for the evaluation was the main ovens in the kitchen. The evaluation was formed around the oven. Apart from the human machine system (operator-oven) the oven's impact on the overall system was studied. The study also addresses the contextual impact on the use of the oven. 

Areas of improvement

  1. Minimize/optimize supervision of the food/cooking process
  2. Decrease, primary users and side users exposure for irrelevant alarms
  3. Improve output feedback and introduce constraints to avoid errors when choosing settings
  4. Parallel usage/Support compromised use
  5. Ease/optimize final control of large amounts of food

Our solution

The solution is supportive equipments for the oven and the kitchen machines in general, with a monitor where information from the different machines in the kitchen is presented and also personal haptic alarms in form of a wristband that to put on the upper arm of the users.  

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The monitor is located where it’s visible from everywhere in the kitchen. The main purpose of the monitor is to support global situation awareness. It presents the different machines that are connected to the machine and their current status, such as cooking mode and time or temperature left to target temperature. The monitor makes it possible for the user the get an overview of the “big picture” from a distance.

The monitor helps the user to coordinate parallel usage since the screen will show if there are multiple users of one machine. The monitor will also improve the output feedback since the user can double check that they made the right setting without going back to the machine by looking at the screen. 


In addition to the display a personal alarm device was developed. The alarm device is constructed as a wristband that is placed on the users upper arm. The alarm armband gives haptical signals; the signals are directed only to the users for which a specific signal is relevant.

The alarm band senses if a user makes settings and starts the oven. The alarm band will then give haptic signals when the target time or temperature is reached to that specific user alternatively to colleagues of the user with similar responsibilities, for example all the prep chefs or all the chefs.

By giving personalized haptical alarms the system will decrease the exposure for irrelevant audial alarms for the primary users and the side users. It will also decrease the negative experiences connected to audial alarms, which will result in decreasing the users mental workload.

The wristband can also give the user notifications or reminders before the food is ready so that the user will remember to check on the food. The user can decide how often he/she wants to get notification depending on how difficult it is for the user to predetermine the right cooking time. When getting an alarm through the armband the user can either go to the machine or look at the monitor. The monitor will show the user, which connected machine, is sending the alarm. This will decrease the confusion about what the alarm source is.

By giving haptical reminders the user won't have to keep in mind when to check on the food, which will minimize the load on the short time memory capacity and therefore decrease mental workload. The reason for utilizing the haptic sense is that is a modality not affecting the users performance negatively in the same way as an irritating audial alarm. 

In collaboration with Axel Eriksson and Robin Evaldsson

Course: Cognitive Ergonomics at Chalmers University of Technology

Focus areas: Cognitive Ergonomics, User Experience 

Year: 2013

Duration: 8 weeks, half time

Programs used: Illustrator, Photoshop