Locally developed AI technology will help prevent kitchen fires

Conceptual image of the AI stovetop monitor that Cooktop Safety said will help prevent kitchen fires. Image via Cooktop Safety.

Soon, homeowners will have access to potentially life-saving technology in the kitchen, thanks to Cooktop Safety Inc., whose head office is located here in Kingston.

Late last month the company announced a new patent pending AI (artificial intelligence) stovetop monitor that anticipates fire danger, alerts users, and intervenes before a fire can start.

According to a release from CookTop Safety Inc., the AI behavioural innovation monitors activity across and in the vicinity of stovetops using thermal imaging processed with advanced real-time AI to predict and prevent dangerous situations before they can become a threat.

“Currently, fire prevention tactics have always been for after a hazard has occurred. Our team at Cooktop Safety invented the new thermal monitoring device to anticipate and prevent accidents before harm is caused,” said David Eby, Founder and CEO at Cooktop Safety Inc. “Stovetops are the leading cause of all residential fires, and our device provides the highest level of safety precaution through AI innovation that no one has seen or used before.”

The CookTop Safety AI Thermal Sensor technology is an advanced system developed to detect and prevent unsafe situations related to cooking, according to the company. It incorporates AI and thermal sensing capabilities to monitor and analyze heat patterns and temperature changes on a cooktop. The AI Thermal Sensor technology is designed to detect anomalies, such as excessive heat buildup or sudden temperature fluctuations, that may indicate potential hazards, including unattended or unsafe cooking practices.

When asked why they chose Kingston for their head office, Eby told Kingstonist the company strategically chose to locate here partly because of the proximity to Queen’s University.

“Kingston boasts a vibrant academic and research community, and partnering with Queens University allows us to tap into a pool of highly skilled and innovative talent,” he said. “The university’s engineering and technology programs provide a valuable resource for recruiting top-notch professionals. With its picturesque waterfront, historic architecture, and vibrant downtown core, Kingston provides an attractive setting for employees to work and live.”

As for the concept, Eby said it came from their experience in the fire suppression business, and the fact that current technology was not able to “predict and prevent” an unsafe or fire situation related to residential cooking.

“Cooking is the leading cause of ALL residential fires in North America and around the world with distracted and unattended as the main factors,” he noted.

Cooktop Safety has dedicated the past two years to the development of its new AI product, and Eby said it is ready to “revolutionize” cooking safety and innovation while minimizing the risk of residential fires caused by cooking-related incidents.

“We have invested significant time, resources, and expertise into research, design, and testing to ensure the creation of a highly effective and reliable solution. The development process began with an in-depth analysis of cooking-related hazards and identifying the key areas where existing technologies fell short.”

The sensor system is designed to be installed above a cooktop surface, under the vent hood or microwave, and is intended to work with a wide range of cooktops, including electric and induction models, according to Eby. The sensor technology is versatile and adaptable, he noted, allowing it to be integrated with different types and brands of cooktops commonly found in residential kitchens.

The device uses a smart notification strategy to alert users when thermal imaging anticipates a dangerous situation. According to the release, this includes presence detection, reminders when the stovetop is unattended for too long, a pressing message when food is likely to be overcooked, and finally an urgent alert that intervention is required. Failure to respond in a timely manner triggers an automatic power cut-off to the appliance, effectively preventing fire ignition.

When asked to explain how the device cuts power, Eby explained that there are two options available with this sensor. “One option is that sensor above the stove is connected to your 240v plug, so that in the event of a dangerous situation that you do not respond to… it will cut the power before a fire can start. The other option is that the sensor is installed above your stove and acts like a smart detector that warns you audibly, visually, and [with] push notifications that you need to attend to a possibly unsafe situation on your stove. We did a study and most younger adults did not want the power cut off but wanted the warnings, and the older (aging in place) folks wanted the extra cut-off feature.”

The unique technology creates a more accurate assessment of potential risk than the detection methods employed in other monitoring products, such as smoke detectors, the company stated. The sensor also detects the presence and activity of a user. According to the release, most kitchen fires are oil fires caused by unattended cooking, and the machine-learning-based algorithm considers this in its assessment.

“Cooking safety is an increasing problem in residential properties with more people cooking at home than ever before,” said Eby. “From young children to senior citizens and property managers, our design can help provide any household peace of mind when it comes to cooking safety.”

Eby said they plan to begin offering pre-orders for both options in mid-September 2023, and hopefully will begin shipping before the end of the year. The company is also currently in development with one of the world’s largest manufacturers of cooktops and ranges that will integrate this technology into the cooktop. Eby did not share who the manufacturer is, but said, “this is a huge innovation that we will see in the leading brands next year and will have a lot of cool features that will enhance your cooking experience and keep you safe.”

For more information on the local company, visit: www.cooktopsafety.com

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