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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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  • Automation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Living Fractal ( 162153 ) < minus poet> 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.
  • 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 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...

  • 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:



    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 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...

  • 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

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger