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Cooking Up the Connected Kitchen 141

Esther Schindler writes "If you're looking for technology to improve kitchen connectivity and home automation, you might be surprised at how little is available today. Turns out, that's a good thing. Our industry has a long history of trying to sell a solution in search of a problem. Maybe we can get away with that occasionally, when the solution is inherently fun, or when there are enough of us geeks to buy an cool-looking automated gizmo with blinking lights where a cheaper hand-held "solution" is just as good for the masses. But when it comes to home appliances, which cost a pretty penny by anyone's measure, nobody wants to invest big bucks in a "connected" device — however cool the home automation seems — where the technology platform goes away (my washing machine is 8 years old; I sure wouldn't use a PC or phone that age) or where the benefits are murky. That is, just what is it we want the kitchen automation to do? It's one thing to say, "The fridge could order food when I run out" but none of us want to scan every potato as we unload the groceries. Yet, as I wrote in Cooking up the connected kitchen, the manufacturers are paying attention to home automation and connectivity and giving your oven an app. And some of it, as I hope the article makes clear, is really cool. 'The manufacturers want to sell us technology, and we want to buy cool capabilities that actually improve the quality of our lives. What I found surprising, in my own hands-on evaluations, is how often I had a dual-stage response: "That's the dumbest thing I ever saw. (beat) Wait, I want that!"' The manufacturers are being thoughtful about both what we'd want and what we'd buy... which is something to appreciate. So what would you want from kitchen connectivity?"
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Cooking Up the Connected Kitchen

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I want it to still work in ten years.

    • I want it to still work in ten years.

      I'm sure that the Honeywell Kitchen Computer was built to your exacting specifications. On the other hand, in its case, it would satisfy it by being as cumbersome ten years later as on the day you bought it. ;-)

      • Re:durability (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:15PM (#42766057) Homepage Journal
        Aside from something to look up recipes, unit conversions, etc....I can't really see the use or need for 'connected' tech in the kitchen on something that is so inherently manual..?

        How are they doing to use tech to improve:

        Knives

        Pans

        Gas Burners

        Meat Grinder

        Food Processor (I like to pulse by hand and stop when MY eye says it is done to my liking

        Piston Sausage Stuffer

        Stand Mixer

        Vitamix Blender (ok, on this one I got the model with the extra programmed modes, and find I only use those to clean the thing with after using it)

        Breville Ikon Juicer (how will it know what food I'm putting in next in order to adjust the speeds?)

        Charcoal Grills

        Offset hardwood smoker

        I mean seriously, if you like to cook and have the right tools for things, it is almost pretty much manual work by definition. Will I somehow resort to the cloud when I want to cut a whole chicken quickly into 8 pieces?

        And for the often mentioned refrigerator or pantry that will know when to order food or an item when it gets low...how is it going to know what I'm cooking that week that I'll need that? I mean sure there are SOME staples, but I tend to look weekly at the grocery store ads, see what's on sale (usually also meaning what's in season), and I plan my menus and cooking plans accordingly, based on those ingredients. This keeps me eating more things in season, and hence, US and more local products that are fresher, and I don't get stuck in a rut cooking the same things all the time, and saving a few bucks along the way while eating well and healthy.

        Don't get me wrong, I LOVE tech and gadgets, but I just can't see how it would improve the kitchen. Quality knives and cookware make the kitchen...

        • by blippo ( 158203 )

          Less is more...

          My rather expensive oven seems to be programmed by someone that never have cooked something in his life.

          This is how to start it:

          - Turn the the "function knob" to the correct function.
          - Press cancel to dismiss the automatic cleaning procedure (as it's more than a week since it ran the last time...)
          - Turn the right knob, until "temp" is selected on the display.
          - Bend down, as you can't actually see the display while standing in front of the oven.
          - Press the "ok" button.
          - Set the desired tempe

          • by pepty ( 1976012 )
            In the spirit of less is more (but still gadgety): How about instead of a fridge that needs to have inventory scanned in and out just like a grocery store, one with a couple of wide angle cameras inside which you could activate from your smart phone while you're at the grocery store?
            • by tftp ( 111690 )

              It's far more useful to know what to buy, rather than to know what you already have. Those are different things. Besides, the refrigerator is not the only place where you keep food supplies. You may need salt, juice, oatmeal, pasta, rice, beans... lots of stuff is NOT in the refrigerator. Do you plan to install pan and zoom cameras in the pantry and in all the cabinets?

              The best tool for food shopping is ... the shopping list. You scribble an item in whenever you remember about it, and when you are in the

              • I do my research from my recipe database, which is synced to my phone. Usually this is while having lunch out somewhere. What I don't have, though, is a perfect memory of whether we used up the smoked paprika and the white pepper, or whether the shredded cheddar cheese from two weeks ago is still edible. And no, I won't re-buy smoked paprika and white pepper when I use them up, "just in case" I make a recipe that requires them again in the next year.

                If I had room to space things out, pan and zoom cameras

                • by tftp ( 111690 )

                  I do my research from my recipe database, which is synced to my phone. Usually this is while having lunch out somewhere.

                  It would be more efficient to do this research at home, where the supplies are. Because no sensor, outside of many-$K models, will tell you if this or that cheese is still edible. It's not just it's not moldy yet - you also need to consider if it is dry like a rock. (Dental implants cost more than a new bar of cheese.)

                  Cameras will not peer through the glass of bottles with herbs and w

                  • I do my research from my recipe database, which is synced to my phone. Usually this is while having lunch out somewhere.

                    It would be more efficient to do this research at home, where the supplies are.

                    That is incorrect. I have tried to do the research in this fashion. What usually happens is that I spend an hour coming up with recipes for the week, then 10 minutes making a shopping list and crossing off the ingredients I already have. Then, I have to go eat lunch somewhere before going to the store, and at this point I've eaten lunch so late that I can't or won't cook dinner that night, ruining the point of going shopping.

                    I know myself, and for me it is far more efficient to get eating lunch out of th

        • by godrik ( 1287354 )

          There are a couple things that could be helpful in a kitchen from a purely technical perspective.

          We could make pots smarter to somewhat display the temperature distribution in it, maybe the materiel could change color depending on its temperature.

          Oven based feedback loop. many things in the oven need to stay at a precise temperature. For instance all bain-marie based cooking. For instance for creme brule. the oven could automatically adjust its temperature to keep the bain marie at the right temperature. If

          • Our rice cooker tells us exactly when the rice is cooked. It sings a little song. It helps that the Japanese love little useful gadgets, and they also love rice - their rice cookers are pretty awesome, and we bought an English version of a model sold in Japan.

          • My oven has a wonderful piece of technology called a bi-metalic strip to keep it at a constant temperature. I turn the dial round to the temperature I want, and I know it has reached that temperature when the red light goes off.

            I think you would struggle to design a fridge that could tell you what is inside quicker than opening the door and having a look.

  • Automation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Living Fractal ( 162153 ) <banantarr@hotmail . c om> on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:02PM (#42765333) Homepage
    Connectivity is great but I want automation. I want to be able to wake up to a couple perfectly fried eggs and some bacon next to buttered toast. Thanks science.
    • Well shit, Doc Brown did that 130 years ago. How hard could it be?
    • Connectivity is great but I want automation.

      That's what I thought, too. I want to have a hole in every room in which to throw my trash so that it is delivered to the basement and compacted. I want a delivery system that can bring me a 0.33l soda can whenever I press the button, and I want the same system to take the old, empty can back to the basement and store it. I can't really come up with anything other that I'd want automated. Maybe an automated lawn-mower, but those exist already.

      and some bacon

      I just tried bacon for the first time in my life a few weeks ago

      • Someone didn't cook your bacon sufficiently. The texture of the fat should be gone, and it should be crispy to the point of melting.

        Bacon is great when well prepared, but there are better cuts of pig, too.

      • I want a delivery system that can bring me a 0.33l soda [you meant "beer", right?]can whenever I press the button, and I want the same system to take the old, empty can back to the basement and store it

        Luckily, my wife never heard of /. , so I can post the obvious solution to your need: a wife! :-) .
        Or maybe that nice dog from the TV commercials. You know, the one named "weego."

        • Luckily, my wife never heard of /. , so I can post the obvious solution to your need: a wife! :-)

          I'm not terribly fond of high-maintenance appliances.

    • Re:Automation (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Let's All Be Chinese ( 2654985 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:08PM (#42765969)

      In a few short years you might even get that, courtesy the Japanese getting older and their aversion to getting non-Japanese to help them out in their old age. It's why you get all those whacky robots from pet dogs to something already close to robot nurses.

      Ironically they don't actually need introspective fridges with see-through display doors and built-in speakers (that are problems to clean, and might break, too) for that. If the robot is smart enough to move about on its own it's smart enough to remember what's where or even just to remember to take a quick inventory before ordering (or executing, there's an idea) the scheduled shopping.

      So the robots take over our lives. Of course, this is where we mumble "yeah, skynet" and then leave things as they are. But things don't have to walk to become our networked adversaries. They don't even have to mean it. All that's needed is an over-abundance of trying to be "helpful" in just the wrong way. Incidentally that's the way we've been going down so far, with equating "user friendlyness" with "hiding the controls so you don't have to worry about it".

      While I sort-of share the sentiment of wanting to not have to do the chores myself, with various defensive strategies in place they're not that much of a problem. What would be a problem is losing control, even the feeling of losing control. And you get that by having all sorts of things try to out-smart you behind your back.

      You know, The Wrong Trousers style. Or maybe not even that.

      Make the fscking things self-cleaning if you must, but at least give them interfaces with published, open specs that I plug into my kitchen controller that I tell what to do, that talks to me through my phone or whatever device I want to whenever I say so, and so on. I don't want vendor-supplied half-well over-eagerly done patented "easyness". I want those things to do my bidding, and for that they have to talk to me the way I want them to.

      On that same note, I wouldn't want things to be too integrated--that just drives up the repair bill through sheer proprietaryness, meaning it won't happen and now half my kitchen doesn't talk to the other half any longer.

      Keep it simple. Keep things independent if they don't need to interdepend. Make a speaker that sticks to the fridge with magnets, or take a few old but still functional ones and mount'em somewhere high and out of the way. Though the old trick of mounting a radio under the cabinets over the counter seems good enough still, too. Make one of those with a bluetooth interface and you're golden.

      In short, all that integrating just because we can is no good for us. Even when automating.

      • "All that's needed is an over-abundance of trying to be "helpful" in just the wrong way."

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/With_Folded_Hands [wikipedia.org]

        "Incidentally that's the way we've been going down so far, with equating "user friendlyness" with "hiding the controls so you don't have to worry about it"."

        Sad but true. Brilliant insight.

        "Make the fscking things self-cleaning if you must ..."

        Now that I like -- a self-cleaning vegetable juice...

        "but at least give them interfaces with published, open specs that I plug into m

    • Connectivity is great but I want automation. I want to be able to wake up to a couple perfectly fried eggs and some bacon next to buttered toast. Thanks science.

      You mean something like this [amazon.com]? Now these aren't fried eggs but likely poached. I'm sure there are other machines out there that would do it or you could just set a timer on the power cord.

      But as with all "automatic" devices like your morning coffee, you still have to make it the night before or in the case of capsules, press a button (make sure the capsule is filled right, make sure theirs water and a cup waiting, etc). What I really want is full automation. Pod/capsule coffee machines have just about r

    • Re:Automation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:34PM (#42766279)

      Imagine connecting with your oven from your smartphone to adjust the roast's cooking time. When dinner is ready to serve, the oven can notify the chef via text message or push notification, not to mention nag your family on their mobile devices to call them to dinner.

      My oven just beeps when it needs to notify me that it finished pre-heating. And it just beeps when it finishes baking something and turns itself off. It also has a convenient oven light that I can manually turn on and off, that acts as an in-context reminder that I may still have something in the oven even thought the oven turned itself off.

      In this day of information overload, there is no need to clutter up my cell phone with one more type of notification/reminder, nor is there a need to make the oven configuration UI panel more complex than it needs to be. The same goes for my house guests/family. I don't need to clutter up their sms/inbox either. I don't live in a five story mansion. I can usually hear the beep just fine. And if I want to eat with my family, I can just tell them, or yell at them, assuming they even want to eat with me. Worst case scenario, if my family and my house get large enough, I'll get an intercom for the rooms I can't easily reach. Furthermore, I wouldn't want them to be accidentally notified of the oven finishing, when they're away from the house on some other business. Nor would I want my family to be notified when the oven is finished, but the dinner is not fully prepared yet. There is actually time between the time that an oven finishes and that the table is set up with all that's needed.

      With notifications, the only type that I may want, may be from my washer/dryer, but that's only because they're a bit out of the way, and I can't easily hear their buzzer when they finish (nor do I walk in front of those appliances unless I'm using them, so sometimes I need to be reminded I have something in them). But even there, I'd try to minimize the number of notifications/reminders as much as possible. For instance, it would be nice if it didn't sent me a notification to me if I picked up my clothes quickly enough, and it would be nice if it was smart enough not to notify me during some hours where I already left for work, or during the hours when I'm usually sleeping.

      Home chefs can access the Dacor Discovery IQ Cooking Application and Guide, suggests Dacor, while simultaneously downloading other popular applications through the Google Play Store, researching new recipes, or viewing cooking video demonstrations wirelessly through a home Wi-Fi network.

      Honestly, I already have a tablet for that. And there are already plenty of apps that duplicate the functionality of their application, and that probably already do a very good job of it. What are they doing wasting their resources on this?

      Having a tablet built-in into the oven would make things really counter-productive for me. It's easy for me to replace my tablet, but it would be difficult to replace/upgrade my oven built-in tablet. Furthermore, just like a car manufacturer, I'd never trust an oven manufacturer to keep its paws off the builtin internet-connected tablet of its own manufactured device (nor would I trust that manufacturer to sell me that built-in tablet, nor any of its builtin services at a reasonable price either).

      And, of course, should the wall oven encounter a problem or require maintenance, IQ will notify the owner with an error message and send an automated report to Dacor for troubleshooting.

      What? Why would I even expect my wall oven to have a problem!?!

      If my oven really has a physical problem, I may call a repairman to come in person, but I want to be there when he comes to my place. Please do not automatically assume that what benefits a company will automatically benefit the consumer. This feature for me would just be an anti-feature.

      Furthermore, I'm not the most security-conscious person in the world, but in

    • No, you need a W.I.F.E.

      Time for that old joke:

      Q: Why do women get married in white?

      A: ALL domestic appliances are delivered in white...

      P.S. you forgot the coffee and orange juice.

      P.P.S. Before the "wimin" get up in arms, we've been happily married 20 years now, and every Sunday I bring my lovely wife a bouquet of fresh roses with her breakfast.

  • Almost any kitchen-centric automation is more of a pain to implement or maintain for home users than it would be worth.

    Really the only thing useful would be a device to keep the recipe I googled close at hand... oh look a tablet!

    • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

      The one thing I can think of that would be useful is a shopping list- scan a bar code when you use up an item, have it synch to the cloud, and be able to see the list on your phone when you shop. Or a reverse shopping list- a list of items you have. I'm always wondering if I already have spice/seasoning X when I'm at the store.

      But other than that I don't really see much I want automated. I don't want automatic purchasing, I don't use enough food being single. Maybe preheat the over for me as I drive h

      • by mcmonkey ( 96054 )

        The one thing I can think of that would be useful is a shopping list- scan a bar code when you use up an item, have it synch to the cloud, and be able to see the list on your phone when you shop.

        You haven't thought that idea through. Or read TFS. Yes, it would useful when generating a shopping list. But no, it's not very useful when you have to scan every item as you unpack your purchases.

        As is it, you can very easily do this now, with current technology. There are USB bar code scanners. There is software for inventories. In fact, I'm guessing you (and most of the /. audience) have all the hardware and software for this application now--on your smart phone. There are many bar code readers th

        • "You don't because it's a huge pain in the butt." ..and carrots don't have barcodes.

        • " Why don't you scan the bar code of every item in your kitchen"

          That's probably where the "checkout of the future" comes in. I've seen a demo of it somewhere, bar codes are supposed to go the way of the dodo, eventually RFID tags are supposed to take over for them. You simply fill up your cart, walk through an arch with a high speed RFID scanner in it and either hand over your money or your RFID credit/debit card is automatically scanned. If that comes to pass the "fridge of the future" would then have a

        • There was a Kickstarter project for that (which failed funding):

          http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/934651649/hiku-lets-simplify-the-way-we-shop [kickstarter.com]

          Though I can't see that being practical at all. To make it convenient enough to not waste more time than it saves, you'd need multiple cameras and scanners in your fridge so it could read barcodes from any angle whenever you put stuff in and take it out. Plus some kind of image recognition software to identify non-barcoded stuff like fruits and veggies.

          The quicker w

      • The one thing I can think of that would be useful is a shopping list- scan a bar code when you use up an item, have it synch to the cloud, and be able to see the list on your phone when you shop. Or a reverse shopping list- a list of items you have. I'm always wondering if I already have spice/seasoning X when I'm at the store.

        But other than that I don't really see much I want automated. I don't want automatic purchasing, I don't use enough food being single. Maybe preheat the over for me as I drive home? But chances are I don't want to cook as soon as I walk in the door anyway. What else is there?

        There are numerous apps out there that do this. A popular one we use is GroceryIQ. It's on both our phones and syncs great so I always know what to get. There are likely other apps that have inventories as well.

      • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

        scan a bar code when you use up an item

        Scanning is a pain in the ass.

        when you use up an item, have it synch to the cloud, and be able to see the list on your phone when you shop.

        This is an awesome idea. I can't count the number of times I get back from the store only to discover that I have a quarter cup of milk left in the jug.

        Too bad nobody invents anything anymore. We'll never be able to have a fridge that can tell whats in it without someone having to scan bar codes all the time.

      • Your smartphone can do that with the appropriate app.

    • "Almost any kitchen-centric automation is more of a pain to implement or maintain for home users than it would be worth."

      I agree!

      One thing I don't want is an app that lets Bob turn his oven on from the convenience of his office chair 10 miles away. Who will pay for all the fires?

      Sure, you can say "the automation will shut it off when it's done". Yeah, right. As Heinlein wrote, more or less: "You can't make something foolproof because fools are so ingenious."

  • Feedback. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:10PM (#42765399) Homepage Journal

    I want feedback.

    I want to be able to stick a thermometer in my food, whether in the oven, microwave or on the hob and have the thing use feedback to follow a temperature vs. time profile.

    Why waste $5k on immersion heaters and vacuum packers for sous vide setups when a simple thermometer input and a few lines of code could achieve the same thing on a conventional kitchen oven?

    • by Eil ( 82413 )

      Why waste $5k on immersion heaters and vacuum packers for sous vide setups when a simple thermometer input and a few lines of code could achieve the same thing on a conventional kitchen oven?

      Because you will never get the kind of temperature stability required by sous vide in a conventional oven, no matter how automated it is. The good news is: With a little skill you can _make_ your own sous vide setup fairly cheaply. There are examples all over the web.

      But yes, I do agree your general sentiment.

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:12PM (#42765417)

    ..as I wrote..

    Freedom from slashvertisments.

    • by Anachragnome ( 1008495 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:27PM (#42765565)

      "Freedom from slashvertisments."

      Once a month, I spend an entire evening tabbing back to /. so I can meta-moderate the Firehose. I am amazed at how many advertisements show up...MOST of them are advertisements. The inundation never stops.

      So, if you dislike the advertisements, hop over to the submissions page and start killing some adverts. I've gotten to the point that I ask myself "Is this person trying to sell something?"--if the answer is even a vague yes, they get voted down without further thought. I don't care what the product is...

      This particular ad is not only selling a book, but the entire book is trying to sell you shit you don't need in your kitchen. Not only that, the author has used many marketing tricks such as combining statements like "That's Stupid" and "I want one!".

      Marketing 101. Get it off /. by meta-moderating. Only YOU can do this...

  • by Maximum Prophet ( 716608 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:14PM (#42765427)
    There are good remote thermometers. Combine one with a microwave oven so that it scans your food, and dials back the power if hot spots occur, and stops cooking when a predetermined temperature reached.

    Plus, a pot stirring robot. Just put a spoon in the robot's hand, grab the arm and show it how to stir the pot. Then tell it to repeat the action. Bonus points if the spoon has a thermometer in it to alert you to your pudding boiling.
    • by Russ1642 ( 1087959 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:18PM (#42765475)
      Used magnetic stirrers in labs all the time. I don't know why they aren't standard on every stove.
      • My halogen cooktop might not have any ferrous metal in the "burner" area. You might be able to put a powerful magnet/motor device far enough under it so that it doesn't get too hot.

        Most of my pots are magnetic, though.
        • by Polo ( 30659 ) *

          I wonder if an induction cooktop could modulate ... something... to move a stirrer ... magnetic or metallic or something.

      • by Polo ( 30659 ) *

        I've wondered about that too. I've even considered buying one.

        It would be AWESOME for mixing powdered drinks -- think hot chocolate or protein drinks or tang or whatever.

        It could be that they're afraid somebody is going to swallow/choke on the stirrer, although I think they have cross ones that might be too big to swallow.

    • I have one. It's basically a bedroom issue vibrator with silicone plastic legs attached. It rotates around the pot stirring it. Great when you want to boil cream for an hour.
      http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=354782&catid=184266&aid=338666&aparam=goobase_filler [drugstore.com]

      • by Bigby ( 659157 )

        You just used bedroom, vibrator, silicone, legs, pot, and cream in the same line. I think it's safe to assume I shouldn't click on the link at work.

    • There are good remote thermometers. Combine one with a microwave oven so that it scans your food, and dials back the power if hot spots occur, and stops cooking when a predetermined temperature reached.

      That's about as useless an idea as I've ever heard. Dialing back power just extends cooking time, it doesn't cool the hot spot or prevent one from occurring. Nor does external temperature bear any noteable relationship to internal temperature.

      You don't actually cook do you?

      • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
        Hmm, extended cooking time. What takes time? Have you heard of convection? How about conduction? Radiation? Aren't those somehow involved in hot spots?

        You don't actually think do you?

        • Hmm, extended cooking time. What takes time? Have you heard of convection? How about conduction? Radiation? Aren't those somehow involved in hot spots?

          In microwave cooking, no, those things are not involved in hot spots because the power of the microwave and the speed they heat the food vastly overwhelm those effects. Hot spots in a microwave are almost overwhelmingly a function of the configuration of the food and the oven.

          If you drop the power to the point where these effects dominate, you're no

          • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
            Actually I was just making fun of you. Anybody who really cooks doesn't ever cook in a microwave precisely because of the way it heats.

            Although real chefs will use it to boil water, or at low power levels (to reduce hotspots) to temper chocolate or reheat food. It's funny that you went all batshit crazy on the guy for the wrong reason. The problem wasn't his idea, it's the microwave.

      • There are almost no foods that are better cooked in a microwave oven, vs. a regular oven. So, no, I don't *cook* in a microwave oven, mostly it's for reheating food. or warming liquids.

        Generally, all the pre-packaged frozen meals have instructions like "cook for N minutes and let rest for 2 minutes" The rest period is just an approximation. With a remote thermometer, the microwave itself could tell you when the item has rested enough, or if it needs a bit more energy pumped in.

        Pre-made frozen meal
  • I just bought a new refrigerator. I had the option of getting the model with the touchscreen interface above the icemaker. However, the equivalent model without the touchscreen was on sale for $700 less. For that money, I can buy a couple Kindle Fire's with money to spare. I just can't justify the added cost, along with the contradictory long-life appliance, short life tech device.

  • nothing is going to put the food in the oven for you

    That's the problem.

    It's quite solveable. There are many automated industrial food processing facilities. In Japan, there's a whole range of vending machines which automatically make pizzas, french fries, etc.

    A refrigerator/microwave combination, where items go in standard trays and a suitable mechanism conveys trays into the microwave and out, wouldn't be that hard. Parents could phone in dinner for their kids.

    • by Bigby ( 659157 )

      I don't know where the summary was trying to go. They want automation, but was ignorant of how much automation you could have.

      If your refrigerator can order food, why can't it pack itself? Why can't the delivery people unpack it? Why can't you be sitting on the couch and yell:

      You: "House! Make me some boneless wings"
      House: "Hi Hal, how many boneless wings?"
      You: "I don't know...20"
      House: "Do you want them tossed in a buffalo sauce as usual?"
      You: "Damn right!"
      House: "Ok...it'll be ready in 15 minutes. It

      • I want a pick'n'place pantry. I just dump products through a chute, it scans the barcode and stores it somewhere. I can scroll through my pantry on my tablet and select something and it pops out on the counter.

      • I take you you've watched Idiocracy.

  • this guy gave a talk about it on 29C3 a moth ago http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDx75KTG8h0 [youtube.com]
  • Actually, having remote access to an inventory is a killer application. Of course, we don't want to scan every item added or used up. The implementation is the problem. RFID might be a solution, though it isn't cost-effective at this time, and more importantly, RFID tags won't be attached to single eggs or pieces of broccoli in my fridge. A simple webcam in the fridge might go along way (the devil is in the details - light - positioning?), but it wouldn't capture the pantry or the spice rack... "When di
    • Of course, you could always just keep a pad of paper and a pen attached to your fridge door, and occasionally take the resulting list of needed items to the supermarket with you. No rare earth elements, no lithium batteries and chargers, no USB cables, no authentication schemes, no Rumanian teenagers hacking into your system, no WiFi set up, no cell phone apps, no web configuration tools, etc. Just pen and paper. Fast. Cheap. Easily available. High availability. Leverages synergies. You know, practical.
      • That works for milk, and cereal, the two things that I automatically rebuy when they run out. Maybe salt and pepper as well, though I buy those in bulk so they only run out every few years.

        For everything else, I only buy as needed. And I often don't know I need them until I'm picking a recipe to prepare, which is often done while I'm out already, and running home to check is inconvenient.

    • Even if it knew you still had a piece of broccoli in the fridge, would it know if the broccoli had started rotting?

  • Nothing ruins a movie night faster than overcooked or burnt food. Give me a way to have a reminder to check the pizza I'm baking pop up on my TV screen, laptop, phone, etc, for example. I can't hear the timer alarm from my home theater, let alone while I've got a movie playing at normal volume.

    I don't have time to run an app on my phone and set a timer and name the timer when I've already set the machine that's doing the work.

    Hell, give me an oven that will shut off and automatically start cycling in cool

    • Nothing ruins a movie night faster than overcooked or burnt food. Give me a way to have a reminder to check the pizza I'm baking pop up on my TV screen, laptop, phone, etc, for example. I can't hear the timer alarm from my home theater, let alone while I've got a movie playing at normal volume.

      Dollar store. $2, 60 minute kitchen timer. Rotate to 18 minutes. Set it next to your theater chair. Done.
  • Not just in the kitchen, but especially in the bath. Is it so hard to make a "smart" tap where the termperature goes smoothly from "cold" to "hot", instead of constantly adjusting it manually because it goes "freezing freezing freezing freezing ok boilinglava boilinglava boilinglava" and the "ok" position shifts every couple of seconds. We have thermometers, why hasn't someone automated this yet?

    Showing the actual temperature would also be a plus.

    • If you search online for Thermostatic Valves, there's lots of them out there. The least expensive one I've found for showers is made by Hudson Reed. For sinks, the inexpensive ones I've found are from faucetso.com Expect that the faster acting a reliable thermostatic valve is, the more expensive it will be.
  • anecdote: i saw a father/son duo at a scrap metal yard, and they were unloading an old stove. we started talking so here's the story..... Grandma was leaving the oven/stove on. the situation was deemed too dangerous by her relatives. initially, the plan was to leave her without the appliance, until the grandson gave them the idea of connectivity. now they can control Grandma's stove with a smartphone. Profit! (but pricey)
  • A little lozenge shaped device with a washable surface, a high temp capable battery, and an 800 degree silicone o-ring seal that I can put in with what I'm cooking, and it will broadcast the temperature of its surroundings. -also a flat one for a grill or an oven rack -also a receiver that converts the transmission to a big display and to Bluetooth or NMEA 0183 or wifi or something Teaching heating or cooling devices to respond to the temperature of the food will be much easier once there's wireless ther
  • I don't want a refrigerator that orders food when I'm running low. The definitions of how low is too low and what food I want to order are just too fuzzy and variable.

    But, I'd want the refrigerator to be able to tell me what the temperature in the compartments is, whether the door's open or closed, that sort of thing. And maybe send an alert to my phone or via e-mail or to a system tray app if the door stays open too long (somebody forgot to close it right) or the temperature goes above what I've set it for

  • or where the benefits are murky

    Ah, yes. The benefits, elusive (and illusive) though they may be. "Controlling" your fridge or your thermostat from far away via your cellphone. Useful? Hardly at all. Cool and shiny? Sure, that's why people buy them. You need almost none of this. You don't even need a "food processor," unless you have to prepare food for more than 4 or 5 people. A set of decent knives and cutting boards will do just fine.

    Just be realistic and recognize that if you buy kitchen gizmos it is

  • Don't worry. The new ones will be made out of cardboard and 100% "recycleable" so you will be able to get an new one every two years while remaining smugly green. Of course, you'll have to get a new one every two years as that's as long as they'll last, but the new ones will be better anyway. They'll have rounder corners. And they'll be even greener.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:38PM (#42765685) Homepage

    This probably has something to do with enjoying cooking, so for me there's very little incentive to automate more than we already do. I mean, we have gadgets to:
    - chop just about anything quickly
    - slice just about anything quickly
    - peel vegetables
    - open cans really easily
    - time absolutely everything
    - clean the dishes afterwords
    - turn the oven on while you're not even in the house so that the casserole will be finished just as you're getting home

    What's left that isn't better handled by people?

  • If we go by how network security in various appliances has been applied this far a connected kitchen will be a time-bomb in the making. What if e.g. someone can turn your oven on at max while you're not at home? Or turn off your fridge, melting all your groceries there? Turn on the faucet and just let the water roll? Alas, if the recent history is any indication these things will have either no security or minimal security with hard-coded access tokens and unupgradeable firmware.

  • Yes, it would be awesome of have a fridge that can keep track of all the food in it, but the problem is that we all don't just buy food with barcodes on it. So sure, add a camera to the fridge to it sees the potatoes you add to it, but then you still have to run your food going in and out past a camera for it to recognize what you are taking in and out of it. So put 20 cameras in the thing, but I can easily see situations where the camera is not going to see all things at all times. Also how to track con

  • is the order of the day. Food has to be ordered online. Kitchenware is not at home anymore, but in an Italian, Chinese or other canteen kitchen cloud," the Estate Agent says: http://www.heise.de/ct/schlagseite/2010/11/gross.jpg [heise.de]
  • ...an NTP client on every appliance with a clock display. I'm OCD about my clocks being in sync. (but hate setting them)
  • Appliances with an actual published API usable from within my LAN only would be good. I absolutely positively do not want appliances using 'the cloud'. I do not want recipes from their proprietary server, I do not want to order food from their approved vendor, I do not want to log in to their oh so special server on the web. Ideally, it should be upgradable. I will NOT be in the market for new appliances 5 years later.

    However, if that stuff is going to come with a 100% markup over the non-automated stuff, n

  • I'd like a nice tablet for recipes, browsing, etc. Maybe a little easel so I can refer to it while I cook.

    And oh yeah, it should be dishwasher safe.

  • So, the manufacturers are listening to what we want, eh? Meanwhile my one-year-old Chinese-made refrigerator (is there any other kind?) already has a problem with the defroster -- a simple, well-known process that has been around for at least 50 years. My previous refrigerator managed to last for 17 years without a major problem. I don't want a lot of bells and whistles, I just want simple appliances which will work for more than a couple of years.

  • Simple answer: No. I have loved to cook since the time I was single digits old. I went to 3 years of Culinary school, but found out that I hated cooking at home after working with food all day. So I left culinary school for greener pastures and went to a tech job. At the same time, I'm back to enjoying cooking at home.

    While technology can be great, at the same time.. not for food. There are so many variables to look at when cooking. How much butter I use in a saute will change on so many factors only

  • The oven that I can control from across the world -- the worst idea ever. Can I also have a way to control my fire extinguisher from across the world? Or to change the amount of time it takes for chicken to cook if I get stuck in traffic mid-way through the cooking?

    I'd love cabinets that wash the dishes, but I don't want to put dirty dishes into my clean cabinets.

    I actually would like a knife that teaches me advanced knifing skills. But a book can do that much more easily.

    I really have zero interest in a

  • I'm not so much for the automation when it comes to the cooking part, that I like. The issue I have is pretty straightforward. My wife and I both like to cook, however since we have small children dinner tends to be a bit haphazard because of school/dance/etc.

    Since I buy a majority of my food at a grocery store and since I already use one of discount cards... they're tracking all my purchases anyway... why not also send me an email in a format that I can parse as well?

    Once I've got a database of the food
  • It occurs to me that I don't use the food I have that efficiently. If I want to cook a specific recipe, I go out and get those ingredients. Sometimes I have leftover ingredients. Sometimes I wind up with random things I can't think of how to use until they go bad and I throw them away.

    So a useful feature in my kitchen would be an engine that would know what ingredients I have and how much, and what yummy recipes I could make with them that night. Even better, have that engine suggest recipes based on my

  • Philips had a concept called Microbial Kitchen [philips.com] a while back which included lights powered by methane as well as a stove that burns methane generated by composting kitchen waste. Devising appliances that cleave to that closed loop philosophy would be great.
  • Aerogarden [aerogarden.com] is an appliance that grows fresh herbs on your countertop. It would be excellent to combine something like this with aquaponics so you can have a steady supply of both veg and fish in your kitchen. You can't be more of a locavore than that.

  • the manufacturers are paying attention to home automation and connectivity and giving your oven an app.

    I can't wait to try force-closing my oven! Yay, progress!

  • and hacker can be cooking a big gas explosion by turning the gas without firing the lighter.

  • I want the kitchen to know all the food that i have, and if there's something that it doesn't know then it asks me and i tell it. At the very least ot would show me some pictures of what it could possibly be if ot doesn't understand me. With cameras, scales also it should also know how much i have of everything.

    With all that, it should be able to suggest different meals with what i have. This is the whole reason for all this.

    Of course it could suggest an ingrediant here or there for something else, and

  • Countertops that don't need to be protected from water, heat, or stains, can be easily resurfaced after scratching, and are designed to be hosed down and then squeegeed into the sinks. A refrigerator that has no interior surfaces that are awkward or difficult to clean. A freezer that is frost free without defrost cycles (laminar flow air curtain when the door opens?), cause I'd rather have frost than freezer burn. It would also have a -70C alcohol bath for flash freezing foods or just because I wanted the
  • I use my microwave oven all the time, and it's computerized, but the user interface sucks.

    How about:
    - a touchscreen interface
    - never-ending reminder beeps that something finished and is still in the oven.
    - allow the sounds to be changed
    - require confirmation if you punch in > 10 minutes (did that once 30 minutes instead of 3, almost started a fire, smoke smell permeated in the house for weeks)
    - smoke detector, arcing detector, boil-over detector
    - temperature detector built-in (maybe alert you when the

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