Smart-Kitchen Startups Give Cooks Digital Help Via Internet of Things

Xconomy National — 

When it comes to connected homes, the hottest spot is located in your kitchen.

The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and related technologies are being used to connect ovens, refrigerators, and other kitchen appliances to the Web. Feeling unsure about cooking that fish dish? Smart ovens can more accurately calibrate temperatures to avoid over-cooking. There’s even a robotics company in London called Moley that says it is developing an entire kitchen—complete with robotic arms—that can learn how grandma made her meatloaf and cook it for you, long after she’s gone.

With only one in 10 Americans saying they love to cook, our collective kitchen expertise is at an all-time low, according to a Harvard Business Review article. So, even when “consumers want to try new things… they may not have the knowledge or confidence to do it,” says David Cronstrom, head of strategy and ecosystems at Swedish appliance maker Electrolux. “Technology can make the experience more seamless and more personalized.”

Last month, Electrolux announced a partnership with Innit, which makes an app that offers recipes based on user preferences, dietary restrictions, or just what you have in the fridge. Innit can send customized cooking instructions to, say, an Electrolux oven, which would then turn on the broiler at the appropriate time. The app can also be controlled via virtual assistants as well as on a smartphone.

“The home is going through a transformation and the kitchen is a big opportunity for this company,” Cronstrom says, referring to Electrolux.

Indeed, the promise of robotics and other tech tools making the upkeep of hearth and home easier has been around since the dawn of the space age. And while our homes don’t quite resemble The Jetsons, a number of companies are using machine learning, robotics, and voice technologies to give once-inert kitchen appliances the ability to help us plan meals and cook more efficiently.

Among the most futuristic of these endeavors is Moley Robotics, which has designed a commercial-grade kitchen for homes—complete with robotic hands that were in part taught to cook by BBC’s 2011 Master Chef Tim Anderson, according to the company’s website. Moley executives were not available for comment.

Silicon Valley-based Innit is among a group of startups developing software that can be integrated into smart appliances outfitted with cameras and other technologies that can tell a user what food she has on hand, suggest a few recipes, and tell you how to cook a meal. (The startup also had a now-ended partnership with Whirlpool.) Two years ago, Bosch announced it would pair its smart ovens with technology from Drop, which is based in San Francisco and Ireland. Drop allows oven cook times, temperature, and humidity levels to be controlled via Wi-Fi based … Next Page »

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