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Technology Trends: “Intelligent” (not smart!) Kitchen Devices
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Technology Trends: “Intelligent” (not smart!) Kitchen Devices - Executive Leadership Articles

Technology Trends: “Intelligent” (not smart!) Kitchen Devices

Executive Leadership Articles

Technology Trends: “Intelligent” (not smart!) Kitchen Devices

In our many discussions about the oncoming wave of new appliances, we have largely focused on smart technology—wifi-enabled appliances that connect to a central command hub, sometimes working in with other smart home devices to keep an eye on temperature, inventory, timing, or other features in an operating home kitchen.

There is, however, another category of kitchen appliances armed with microprocessors and logic. These “intelligent” devices aren’t meant to work in consort with other devices; they’re usually meant to just do one thing perfectly. Taking variability into account, they are programmed to decrease the likelihood of human error, in some cases reducing time and increasing convenience.

Perhaps the most senior example, at least in Asian kitchens, is the “fuzzy logic” rice cooker. Traditional rice cookers work with a simple thermostat. As the rice cooks, the water it’s cooked in evaporates. When enough of the water has steamed off, the temperature of the pot gets hotter; when it gets hot enough, the device shuts off. A fuzzy logic rice cooker senses multiple factors contributing to the final product, including external temperature, and makes adjustments according to its programming. This programmed functionality means the user can select a variable (such as brown rice, or porridge rice) and the rice cooker can cook at a lower temperature for longer, or a higher temperature to adjust for weather conditions.

Similarly, the darling of kitchen gadget lovers for the past several years, the Instant Pot, combines the slow-and-low functionality of a slow-cooker with the hot-and-fast functionality of the pressure cooker with a few high-tech factors for low-stress cooking. Instant Pot’s inventor applied computer engineering skills to the problem of burning food and programmed a solution so that this device (which now boasts ten different cooking modes including “yogurt maker”) would be error-proof. The combination of foolproof results and multifunctionality fills a niche that slow-cookers and pressure-cookers couldn’t address, a desire for fast, easy, home-cooked meals that don’t taste like they were taken out of a freezer and nuked.

Let’s not leave out that most critical of daily-use kitchen appliances, the coffee maker. While single-cup coffee brewers have been around for a long time now, the newest machines combine multiple functions with customizable and preset temperature control, allowing for tea to brew at lower temperatures (resulting in less astringent drinks).

Compared to refrigerators letting you know you’re running out of milk while you’re sitting at your office desk miles away, processor-driven temperature control might seem like a small thing, but these examples remind us that the point of good technology is to solve real problems and make our lives better. Sometimes these problems require wifi and a fleet microcameras connected to smartphone apps, but sometimes all they need is something to keep an eye on a pot of rice, turning what had been a decades-old technology with some unpredictability to something dependable and soul-satisfying. If only all our daily chores could so simply be addressed.

 

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