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Personal Tech for Women: 5 Things You Need To Know About the “Smart Kitchen”

Monday, April 13, 2015


Now before we launch into a list of smart kitchen devices that can shape the way we track, prepare and interact with food, lets just affirm that all this can be applied to men as well. We don’t wish to designate “the kitchen” to a women-specific tech column. But for the purpose of cutting-edge technologies, we’re going to… just this once. The truth is, smart kitchen technologies could result in a $10.1 billion market by 2020, according to a report from NextMarket Insights. There’s a lot to cover here, from devices that have recently hit the market to the future of the smart kitchen – like a refrigerator that makes phone calls and plays TV, or a touch-screen stovetop. Here’s a look at five that are a little more tangible today. 

1. Recipe and Ingredients Apps 

Before you start cooking, it’s best to make a list and check it twice. The MealBoard app lets you manage your recipes, plan meals and compile grocery items. There’s even an option for pantry management – once you’ve bought the food you need, items move from the shopping list to the pantry list. And as you cook with them, the stock can be readjusted. As an app made by foodies, Yummly is on a mission to create “the ultimate kitchen tool.” As a social network for foodies, the app let’s enthusiasts discover, save and share recipes that match tastes, diets, allergies and cook times. Going back to the report by NextMarket Insights, 24 percent of people who take responsibility for cooking in their households say they use a tablet or smartphone for assistance in the kitchen. The only issue might be managing messy fingers when scrolling screens.

2. Chatting Devices

LG’s HomeChat will finally let us talk to our appliances through texting. As a partner of Japanese messenger app LINE, HomeChat works with LG’s Smart Manager software for washing machines, air conditioners, audio systems and refrigerators. When you’re at the grocery store and pondering your list, just message your fridge with, “Are we out of milk?” Creepy, but cool, HomeChat is set to be available this year in the US. Heading further into the future, Whirlpool is currently working on an interactive kitchen suite that allows the fridge, dishwasher, oven, and washing machine to talk to each other, and you could control it all with an app. Imagine, if you can, your fridge “reading” its contents and then asking the oven to pre-heat itself for a quiche.

3. Robot Ovens 

The Discovery IQ 30-inch Wall Oven, from Dacor, allows you to control your over food remotely using the Android-based IQ Controller. This means you can cook from your couch through your smartphone or tablet. It even provides recipes, which you select from its menu. Then prepare and place in the oven, initiate the program, and the oven does its magic. When finished, it’ll stop cooking and switch to “warm” mode. Dacor’s next step up is the Discovery IQ 48-inch Dual-Fuel Range that offers you cooking tutorials and alerts you with a text when your meal is done. For almost $12,000, it includes two ovens, six burners and a seven-inch Android-powered tablet as part of the motherboard. Breville offers a number of intelligent cookers, from an intuitive microwave to the smart toaster oven. They’re not remote-controlled, but they do automatically adjust heating elements and suggest cook times and temperatures. And over at GE, the Brillion App lets users remotely monitor a selection of their wall ovens.

4. Brewing Coffee On-Demand

Mr. Coffee is a smart wifi-enabled 10-cup coffeemaker that allows you to schedule or adjust brew-times from your Apple or Android device. It also sends you alerts when the coffee is fresh and ready. And coming from the UK, there’s Smarter for coffee on-demand, which can grind and brew your beans automatically. App options also let you choose your type of grind and the strength of your cup. For tea junkies, Smarter has created the iKettle, which boils your hot water remotely, so a hot cuppa is ready and waiting when you get home from work. Start-up Quirky has invented the Poppy Pour-Over, which does the same as web connected percolated coffeemakers, but is designed for those who prefer the refined taste of a pour-over coffee. Available later this year, the Poppy Pour-Over will also ship with Amazon's new Dash Replenishment Service… which brings us to Number 5. 

5. Re-order and Re-fill 

As weird as it sounds, it might make sense for some. With the Dash Replenishment Service, Amazon has made it so customers can simply “replenish frequently ordered products with a push of a button.” Here’s how it works: partner companies make available small button devices that attach to any household surface, like a magnet on a refrigerator. When you’re running low on their product, you simply press the button and the stock is re-ordered for you. In the kitchen, this comes in handy for anything from dishwasher detergent to Brita water filters, or even pet food. Device makers are also integrating built-in sensors on hardware, so the button step will be removed from the process – the device will simply order more when supplies get low. It’s convenient, indeed, but does Amazon have to be the one-stop shop for our decisions too, let alone our products? 

Melanie Sevcenko is a journalist for radio, print and online. She reports internationally for BBC World Service and Monocle Radio (M24) in the UK, and for Deutsche Welle in Germany. Melanie also reports for the online news source GoLocalPDX, in Portland, Oregon. Her work has been broadcast by CBC in Canada and the Northwest News Network, and published by Al Jazeera English, Global Post, Pacific Standard, the Toronto Star and USA Today, amongst others.


Related Slideshow: The 7 Best Health and Fitness Apps

Here is a list of some of the most obsession worthy health apps.

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MapMyRun is the number one selling running app for a reason:  it is easy to use, offers community support if you want it, and tracks and stores your exact routes for you.  If you are training for a race or a serious runner, users say that the extra perks in the upgraded paid version are well worth it. 

Made for iPhone, Android and Blackberry 

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MyFitnessPal seems to be the clear favorite amongst everyone polled.  It is helpful not only for the fitness tracking aspect, but everyone polled mentioned how much they loved the food/diet aspect as well. From carb counting for diabetics to recipe ideas to complement your fitness goals, users love this app. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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JeFit is another fitness app that has rave reviews.  It not only tracks progress for you, but offers a huge database of workouts.  While many apps offer community support, JeFit allows you to sync workouts with friends who use the app, offering a (real) virtual buddy system.

Made for iPhone and Android

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Strava gets the highest mark of all the cycling apps.  While it is also great for runners, the cyclers seem particularly inclined towards the fierce competition that can be ignited by this app.  You can track all of your rides via GPS, then you can compare your efforts to those logged by others in the community on the same stretch of road.  You can also join ongoing challenges that can net you great prizes (in addition to bragging rights). 

Made for iPhone and Android

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YogaStudio gets the top vote for Yoga apps.  It has a lengthy collection of full class-length videos available at your fingertips.  Unlike many other apps, this one also allows you to customize your own video yoga class.  All of the poses are done by qualified yoga instructors, and you can find classes suitable for all levels of yogis.

Made for iPhone only

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SimplyBeing meditation app offers the best of both worlds.  You can choose to run this app as a background for your meditation with soothing music or natural sounds that run for a set amount of time.  Conversely, for those of you who have trouble focusing during meditation, you can choose a soothing voice-guided meditation. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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Fooducate is an app all about educating people so that they make healthier food choices.  Although not perfect, this app is easy to use (you can even take pictures of bar codes to instantly find foods in their database).  It gives food a letter grade, tells you the pluses and minuses, and gives you better ranked alternatives.  You can also use it as a weight loss tool by tracking your daily calories. 

Made for iPhone and Android


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