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Smart Home

Point your camera at asparagus, and Whirlpool's Yummly app will recognize it

The Yummly app will also link you to Whirlpool's internet-connected microwave and range so you can use Wi-Fi to send cook times and temperatures to your appliances.

With the Yummly app, you'll use your device's camera to scan common foods. The app will identify the foods and create a list of what it sees.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Last year, Whirlpool bought the recipe app Yummly with hopes of making the iOS and Android app work with the manufacturer's Wi-Fi-enabled cooking appliances. Along with product integration, Whirlpool has added image recognition to Yummly that will visually scan and identify foods and give you recipe recommendations based on what it sees, the company announced today at the CES tech show in Las Vegas. The food recognition feature will launch by summer 2018.

In the Yummly app, you'll be able to use your device's camera to scan a specific food item. The app will recognize the item, create a list of foods you scan and search for recipes that contain those foods. You select a recipe, then the app will use Wi-Fi to send information like cook time and temperature to your Whirlpool connected oven or microwave. 

During a demo at CES, a Whirlpool rep used a tablet to scan two cutting boards full of plastic fruits and vegetables such as bell peppers, potatoes and watermelon. As soon as the app identified the food items, it would mark the items on the screen and populate a list at the bottom. The app was fast and kept track of multiple foods at the same time.

Whirlpool previously said that the app will only be able to recognize a few nonpackaged foods upon launch. At CES this week, Whirlpool representatives said Yummly will recognize hundreds of foods when the feature launches and will increase that number over time. 

There aren't a lot of devices or applications that can visually identify foods, so it's unclear how successful Yummly will be in accurately identifying ingredients. The June Intelligent Oven, the only product we've seen that can identify food using a built-in camera and software, was mostly successful in its efforts to label foods. But the countertop oven couldn't pinpoint a specific food -- rather, it would give you two options as to what it thought the food you put inside might be. 

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Yummly's food recognition sounds too limited upon its launch to be the main driver for using the app. But I'm eager to see how much Whirlpool is interested in investing in a feature that appears, on first glance, to be more of a novelty -- how hard is it to type in the name of the ingredient? This feature seems like it will be the most helpful in identifying foods with which you're not familiar, such as a new vegetable that appears in your CSA.

What to expect from the smart home at CES 2018: We take a look at the smart home and appliance trends we expect to see this year.

CES 2018: CNET's complete coverage of tech's biggest show.