There’s no doubting the time saving convenience of microwave ovens. But what about the time wasted because of them? Their super fast cooking means there really isn’t enough time to go and do something else while we wait for our food, so we find ourselves loitering around watching the seconds tick down. A couple of researchers from Japan’s Keio University have come up with the perfect solution for those of us who need to be entertained at every minute of every day in the form of the CastOven, which lets users enjoy a bite-sized piece of YouTube goodness while they wait for their food.

The CastOven integrates a 10.4-inch LCD display into the door of a microwave oven in place of the traditional glass panel, while USB speakers are hidden away under the device. So far the CastOven is much like the Electro Wave TV we spotted at IFA in 2007. What sets the CastOven apart, however, is that it is also hooked up to a computer. So when the cooking time is entered, a special Adobe AIR app retrieves a video through YouTube’s API that matches the cooking time, keeping you entertained down to the very last second.

Because they are chosen based purely on their running time, there’s no way to control which clips are displayed. That could cause problems for families when little Billy goes to heat up a tasty snack, only to be exposed to content not suitable for young, impressionable eyes.

Eschewing the transparent glass in favor of an LCD display also means that it’s not possible to keep an eye on things as they cook. Still that could add a touch of suspense to your cooking with the tension mounting as you open the door at the completion of a clip unsure whether it will reveal a perfectly cooked meal, or an unrecognizable, charred, smoking lump.

However, these shortcomings haven’t stopped the CastOven taking the Outstanding Performance Award and the Jury’s Special Award in Japan’s Mashup Awards 5. We’re not sure whether these honors will translate into the CastOven becoming available for sale, but until it is you’ll just have to amuse yourselves in the empty seconds it takes to heat up your Pop Tart.

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