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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 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.
  • 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.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.