Connected kitchens Technology can tell you what there is to eat
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.
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.