If there was a theme of this year’s Smart Kitchen Summit — which brings together companies and start-ups that make, or want to make, the kitchen more connected — it was unification. Having a single smart device might make one task easier, but everyone from Innit to Drop to Anova wants to make software or devices that get your whole kitchen talking.
Anova hinted it is bringing a smart oven that will match the precision of its sous vide immersion circulator to market next summer. Recently, Drop announced the integration of its smart scale and app with Bosch Home Connect appliances, and Innit partnered with Whirlpool to put its platform in Jenn-Air ovens. These are crumbs on the trail to a fully integrated smart kitchen, where your fridge finds you the perfect recipe for the squash and chicken you have nestled in its confines, beams it over the oven, and sensors cook everything perfectly based on weight, visual cues, and — who knows? — scent.
Yet many of the devices at the Summit were one-offs. Whether it was Flatev, the Keurig-like tortilla maker, the $700 juicer Juicero, or the Voltaire smart coffee grinder, these appliances are in the do-one-task-and-make-it-smart category. It doesn’t mean these devices aren’t cool, it just means that they are not part of a larger kitchen ecosystem — yet.
Dovetail’s NuFood is a tiny 3D food printer that spits out circular — or other geometric shapes — drops of pomegranate, caramel, honey — basically any liquid or substance that can be liquified. The device is smaller than a standard coffee maker and will not be printing you out a pizza. The little liquid-filled capsules work best in a cocktail or on top of a cracker. The idea, creator Vaiva Kalnikaitė tells Digital Trends, is to make food more fun or playful. “I met one girl who loves the taste of banana but hates the texture, so she asked if I could print it out in a blue square,” she said. The NuFood, which will debut on a crowdfunding site later this year, could combat finicky eaters one canapé at a time.
If you want to spice up your life (™ Spice Girls), the TasteTro wants to sit on your counter. The smart device holds a carousel of cartridges. It is a big boy — sorry, apartment dwellers — capable of holding 20 spice cartridges. You can scroll through the spices on the screen and it will measure out exactly a teaspoon of ginger, but it also has pre-programmed blends. The reason it is connected? Send it your favorite Jamie Oliver blend and it will mix it up for you. Here is the kicker, though. TasteTro actually wants to sell you its spices, so you cannot refill the cartridges. Instead, when you are running low, it will alert the company, and a new, freshly sealed one will arrive on your doorstep. The only container you can control? The salt one, located in the center of the TasteTro.
On the safety side of kitchen gadgets, there is Inirv. It comes with a small device you mount over your stove, which has smoke and motion detectors. If something starts burning or no one comes to check on the stock in a while, the retrofittable knob will turn off the burner. While it is a pretty neat safety device, it is almost like a feature that would have been an excellent addition to the erstwhile Meld Smart Knob. Meld also fit on your existing stove and, in conjunction with temperature sensors, would adjust the burner’s temperature so you didn’t burn your chicken. Still, Inirv could likely bring peace of mind to those with elderly parents or absent-minded spouses.
Remember the Meld Smart Knob? It was mentioned in the paragraph above. Hestan Cue actually acquired the company that made it and debuted its guided cooking system at the Summit. It combines an induction burner with sensor-laden pots and pans that help monitor food’s temperature. The app leads you through the cooking process, but more advanced chefs can adjust the settings if they do not need much assistance.
It is not just small appliances that are getting smart, though. While there are a quite a few connected appliances on the market, executives from GE and Jenn-Air who were at the Summit all seemed to agree these smarts are coming to ovens at all price points in the near future.