Con­nected kitchens Tech­nol­ogy can tell you what there is to eat

SundayXtra - - LIFE / SCIENCE -

those look­ing to up­grade fridges and ovens that aren’t equipped with Wi-Fi, there are a few op­tions, but a visit to the hands- on, brightly coloured Pirch show­room with­out buy­ing a new ap­pli­ance will re­quire a fair amount of re­straint. The cost of the hard­ware used with In­nit’s cloud tech­nol­ogy — the cam­eras and sen­sors that con­nect you to your kitchen — will start at around US$20 to US$30 when the line goes on sale in 2017, though fi­nal re­tail pric­ing hasn’t been an­nounced.

When ev­ery­thing is in­stalled, sim­ply down­load an app onto your iPhone or iPad, and voila: a live feed from in­side your re­frig­er­a­tor.

On top of show­ing you what’s al­ready in your fridge, In­nit will tell you what you can make with those in­gre­di­ents by pulling data from a trove of thou­sands of recipes from the New York Times, Bon Ap­pétit, Good House­keep­ing and Epi­cu­ri­ous. It’ll even help you place an order for items you’re miss­ing, though the com­pany has yet to an­nounce the part­ner­ships that will pro­vide this ser­vice.

The oven tech­nol­ogy can “sense” what’s in­side and tell you how to cook it, down to the right time and tem­per­a­ture, de­pend­ing on the food’s weight, the oven model and the kitchen’s al­ti­tude. If you want to in­stall cam­eras in your ceil­ing or in the bot­toms of your cab­i­nets, it can also watch you put your car­rots on a cutting board and then tell you they are, in fact, car­rots while it plays a video of you chop­ping said car­rots back to your­self while si­mul­ta­ne­ously giv­ing you car­rot recipes from the afore­men­tioned trove.

In­nit is hardly the first com­pany to try to sim­plify cooking by ad­ding com­pli­cated tech­nol­ogy. Sam­sung Elec­tronic Co.’s Fam­ily Hub fridge also tells you what’s in­side it while si­mul­ta­ne­ously con­nect­ing fam­ily mem­bers’ cal­en­dars and play­ing “your favourite tunes.” The Gour­mia Ro­botic Cooker is just one of many kitchen ro­bots await­ing your in­struc­tion. And pod pi­o­neer Keurig Green Moun­tain Inc. was one of the ear­li­est to con­vince the masses ex­tra tech­nol­ogy is nec­es­sary to make cof­fee, one of the sim­plest bev­er­ages in our mod­ern diet.

Laith Mu­rad, Pirch’s chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer, called the tech­nol­ogy “em­pow­er­ing,” say­ing it is “go­ing back to the roots of hu­manto-hu­man ex­pe­ri­ences.” (The In­nit web­site sim­i­larly de­scribes its mis­sion as “to em­power hu­man­ity through food.”) Brown ex­plained how a cook may want to in­vite friends over for a din­ner party, gather around a screen, choose a recipe and make it to­gether, with the tech­nol­ogy serv­ing as a “con­ver­sa­tion piece” that could also “make cooking fun.”

While In­nit cer­tainly has some ma­jor con­ve­niences, wait­ing un­til your guests ar­rive to start mak­ing their din­ner will prob­a­bly make you feel the op­po­site of em­pow­ered, and gath­er­ing around a screen hardly fo­ments hu­manto-hu­man in­ter­ac­tions. (If you’re turn­ing to recipe se­lec­tion to start a con­ver­sa­tion, you might just need more in­ter­est­ing friends.)

Some peo­ple may also won­der if giv­ing the amor­phous, all-know­ing cloud even more per­sonal in­for­ma­tion is re­ally a good idea, even if In­nit says its ap­proach “will be to pro­vide con­sumers with max­i­mum con­trol over their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.” Thou­sands of recipes at your fin­ger­tips sounds good un­til you re­al­ize you al­ready have ac­cess to most, if not all of them, ei­ther through Pin­ter­est, the publi­ca­tions’ web­sites or their own apps. And any­one who uses the kitchen for more than just cooking may won­der if cam­eras in the ceil­ing are re­ally such a great idea.

Still, in to­day’s age of in­for­ma­tion shar­ing, when track­ing ev­ery­thing from steps to men­strual cy­cles is just part of a daily rou­tine, maybe the trade- off — per­fectly baked sal­mon, ev­ery sin­gle time — is worth it.

PHO­TOS BY VIC­TOR J. BLUE / BLOOMBERG

A woman demon­strates an ap­pli­ance op­ti­mized with In­nit tech­nol­ogy at the Pirch home de­sign store in New York.

A touch­screen ta­ble op­ti­mized with the tech­nol­ogy, which in­te­grates ap­pli­ances to man­age one’s kitchen.

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