Imagine returning home from the grocery store, placing a few fresh ingredients on your cutting board (maybe even ones you've never cooked with before), then immediately receiving an app notification with a perfectly tailored recipe that includes all of your ingredients and respectfully considers your time limitations, diet and allergies.
This is part of the future Innit hopes to bring to your kitchen as early as 2017.
CNET is no stranger to smart appliances and the connected kitchen (we have our own smart home #humblebrag), but Innit is quite unlike anything out there. The food startup makes software that works with technology inside of "smart" appliances, like high-tech sensors in your fridge that can tell you when those grapes will spoil, or an oven with scales that can weigh a casserole and set itself to the perfect temperature. Essentially, using lots of coy cameras and sensitive sensors, Innit takes a lot of the guesswork out of cooking.
It all works together using the Innit app, which aims to be your Google Maps in the kitchen. It features thousands of recipes, transcribed from Good Housekeeping, with step-by-step instructions (including expert video tips from sources like The New York Times) that basically hold your hand throughout the entire cooking process. (The only way it could make things easier is if it came with a robot maid who would clean up after you, like in "The Jetsons.")
Details like partnerships with manufacturers and pricing haven't been revealed yet, but we got a sneak peek at prototypes that provide a glimpse into what the connected kitchen could eventually look like. Below are some of the coolest, most innovative things we saw while enjoying a demo at Innit's headquarters in Redwood City, California.
You know how there's facial recognition? Innit is making food recognition. Using cameras, the Innit app aims to accurately identify food items, like an onion or an apple, then suggests recipes based on those ingredients.
During our demo, it swiftly identified the bell peppers and carrots on the cutting board, then dwindled down recipe suggestions to only those that included both ingredients. It worked impressively quick, however in its beginning stages it can only detect a small variety of items.
Dinner can feel more like an Iron Chef challenge when you're dealing with a fridge full of random food, and the Innit food recognition feature easily turns this type of dilemma into an exciting opportunity.
By using cameras, sensors and the Innit app, you can see what's inside of your fridge, tap on an item on the screen (like a milk carton) and see how fresh it is, similar to what the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator can do.
In addition to considering how long it's been on your shelf and expiration dates on labels, it takes a variety of sensors that replicate the five senses to truly evaluate how fresh anything is.
Innit admits that the nuts and bolts of this ambitious technology is still a work in progress. To its credit, freshness is a difficult quality to evaluate, even for some humans. I know at least one person who could benefit from a refrigerator that tells them they're better off not eating those leftovers.
Always knows the time and temp
I fancy myself a fine cook, but I always have to Google a recipe just to find out what temperature I need to cook my food at, as well as for how long. With the help of Wi-Fi-enabled ovens, Innit completely eliminates that process.
You start by using the Innit app to prepare a recipe and once you get to the actual cooking part, all it takes is a tap of an onscreen play button to turn on the oven to the proper temperature for the suggested amount of time.
The way cell phones made everyone forget phone numbers, Innit wants you to forget about cooking times and temperatures.
Checking on food in the oven lets out precious heat that should be used for cooking, and you have to pause your movie and get off of the couch to do so.
By using cameras inside of ovens, the Innit app allows you to monitor what you're cooking from afar. You can take a peek at your roasting chicken from your tablet in the living room, or keep an eye on the ribs while you finish putting away the laundry.
This doesn't mean you should pop in a meatloaf then hit up the mall for a few hours (safety first, kids) but it is a convenient feature that allows you to untether yourself from the kitchen while cooking. The June Intelligent Oven, which will be released later this year, thinks so as well.
People like to use slow cookers because you simply dump the food in a pot and it cooks itself. That's the type of autopilot ease of use Innit wants to bring to the entire kitchen.
It's not exactly self-cooking, you still have to chop and season your own food, but it's similar to washing machines in the way that you have to put in some effort in order for it to work, yet the machine still does most of the heavy-lifting.
In a controlled demo room full of people monitoring every move, Innit's technology worked like a dream. How it will work in a real kitchen with a real family under everyday duress remains to be seen. We'll have to wait until Innit-powered appliances hit stores in 2017 to see if cooking consumers care enough about the high-tech features to upgrade.
I thought everything Innit showed us was impressively unique, however smart ovens and fridges will have to provide a lot more convenience to usurp my all-time favorite appliance -- the dishwasher.