IoT and Food Prep Appliances

Posted by on Jun 29, 2017 5:00:00 AM Carmi Brandis  
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IoT-enabled devices gradually are becoming an integral part of home life, and nowhere is that more evident than in the kitchen.  

Throughout most of American history, the kitchen was considered a secondary room built solely for utilitarian purposes, one not to be seen or where groups of people gather. In fact, modern homebuyers often are surprised by how small kitchens in un-renovated older homes are. Today, changing demographics and personal tastes, the rise of celebrity chefs, two-earner families, and a host of other market drivers have brought the kitchen front and center in home design. And with that shift comes renewed desire for convenience. Just like few people want to chop trees to feed a wood burning stove anymore, today’s tech-savvy homeowners want even more ‘unpleasant’ kitchen tasks removed from their cooking experiences. IoT fits the bill perfectly.

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Soup’s on! 

Thanks to embedded smart technology, stoves have become the perfect kitchen assistant. Each burner can be programmed via a smart phone or remote to complete a set task, with numerous fail-safes built-in to avoid overcooking or potential fires. Sensors can monitor the temperature of the pot or pan, as well as its contents. Knowing the contents in advance, the system can send alerts if an ingredient is being heated incorrectly or if there is a loss of heat altogether. This virtually eliminates human error, as well as prevents inadvertent food poisoning. Working in conjunction with the burners, the overhead fan can turn on/off as needed, or be preprogrammed to stay on only when a burner is active. Likewise, a smart thermometer placed in the pot/pan can offer even more accurate readings while detecting for any possible bacteria or pathogen.

Smart thermometers are equally beneficial with oven applications. In addition to sensing the proper cooking times, they can detect each individual ingredient’s cooking progress and send predefined alerts if a certain chemical stage is reached (such as meat absorbing the right amount of glaze). If there are multiple dishes being heated, as often the case with holiday or party gatherings, individual thermometers can work in conjunction with the stove’s own sensors to determine when each dish has reached its ideal serving time. The oven also can sense any potential fire hazards (bubbling ingredients or foods that ignite when they fall onto cooking elements) and send alerts well in advance of any harm or danger.

Overall, such systems enable a cook to always know what is happening in the kitchen, even if they are not present at the time.

It’s cold in here

Refrigerators are, by definition, used more than any other kitchen appliance since they must operate 24/7/365. That makes the common icebox ripe for IoT implementation. With smart technology, the refrigerator actually becomes several separate appliances. Each shelf, drawer, and freezer section can be monitored and thermostatically controlled independently—a smart evolution of existing systems. That allows different foods, especially ‘incompatible’ foods, such as fish and birthday cake, to be stored and cooled/frozen uniquely.

The system takes into account each food type—either via preprogramming or detection—and from there can determine its spoilage time, when it is supposed to be used (if preset), if its chemical makeup changes (such as a marinade), if pathogens are present, and numerous other factors. This ensures food is never wasted, especially if an item is past its ‘best by’ date. Many such dates are somewhat arbitrary, and items like eggs are edible weeks after the package indicates they expired. IoT takes the mystery out of determining food viability, potentially preventing illness if something seems fine but isn’t. 

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Refrigerators, due to size, also are significant energy consumers given their relatively inefficient basic design (everything essentially is cooled alike). Thanks to IoT, running costs are reduced dramatically as each section is cooled depending on need, or not at all if left empty. This would include a minimum temperature threshold that enables the unit to reduce consumption even further during peak hours when energy costs are highest. The system constantly self-monitors and can send instant alerts if it is not operating as designed. If an error is detected, the refrigerator can diagnose the problem, its severity (the door was left open versus a broken compressor), and even recommend do-it-yourself solutions, saving unnecessary repair bills.

All these advances will require service providers who can deliver reliable, robust solutions that turn ordinary cooking areas into 21st century dream kitchens.

For more information on how Aeris IoT Services can help in the kitchen (or any other room in the house), contact us.

Topics: IoT, smart appliances, food preparation, kitchen appliances