Countertop oven is sort of the new name for toaster ovens, because many of them use convection to do a lot more than make Bagel Bites. But the June Intelligent Oven wants to replace your range or wall oven by being faster, more precise, and smarter.
“First and foremost it needed to be a great oven, to behave like an oven and look like an oven,” Ammunition Design founder Robert Brunner told Digital Trends. The company helped creators Matt Van Horn and Nikhil Bhogal build the oven from scratch. People literally called them crazy, Van Horn says, but they wanted to be able to incorporate things like a built-in scale, a camera that withstands 500 degree Fahrenheit heat, a redesigned temperature probe, and a four-core NVIDIA processor.
What does an oven need all that for? To identify your food (without you telling the oven what it is) and drawing on machine learning to cook it perfectly, based on its weight. Naturally, it has an app. “Mobile’s a big part of our DNA,” Van Horn said.
Ranges with two doors often have a smaller cavity that’s meant for everyday cooking. It heats up faster and wastes less energy. The same is true for the June, which can fit a five-pound chicken or 11-by-16-inch casserole dish. The team did a bake-off and found that the oven’s small size and two convection fans, which blow air around the cavity for more even baking, helped a cake cook evenly and the oven hold its temperature to within 3.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition to being more precise than the other countertop and full-size oven it was tested against, the June cooked the cake in 15 minutes, compared to 23 and 30 minutes for the other two. “Our salmon program, your steak program, you don’t even need to preheat,” said Van Horn.
At this point, the June can recognize 25 different foods using the camera and its data. There more pictures it gets of food from its users, the better it will become at recognizing it. It also has about 60 presets, which can cook everything from a medium-rare steak to a pumpkin pie. “To get that data,” said Van Horn, “we have to run dozens and dozens of tests and make so many pies.” Using the presets, the June adjusts its heating elements, which are divided into three separately controlled banks. “As you’re going through different stages on a recipe, it can change as per need, whether you’re moving from roasting to browning to warming,” Brunner said.
Part of the reason the June is so precise is how well-insulated it is, said Jonas Lagerstedt, Ammunition’s creative director. “We got a lot of features for free,” he said, because the insulation also helped improve cooking time, while the oven’s cooling ability, necessary for the camera, allowed them to put LED lights in the oven as well. The touchscreen stays cool, even when the oven is on, though it’s actually right on the door, instead of a side panel, like you get with a microwave. “When you open the door, all you have in front of you is the cavity, so it’s very space-efficient,” Lagerstedt said.
Still, it is 22 inches wide, 18 inches deep, and 13 inches tall and costs $1,495. (It starts shipping in December.) Van Horn thinks it’s roomy enough — and game-changing enough — that people will want to use it every day. “Something we keep hearing from beta testers is that their kids are getting involved and showing an interest in cooking for first time ever,” he said. He thinks both novice and experienced cooks will benefit.
It remains to be seen if the camera and algorithm are really able to accurately identify enough foods, and if the app and presets work well enough to jump in when they don’t. Van Horn says its space-saving features make it a “good countertop citizen,” but it still might have to take over your microwave’s spot.