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Bosch's fridge with food recognition might make me actually want a smart kitchen

The Home Connect Fridge has cameras that can recognize your food. Bosch partnered with Chefling -- the app for planning recipes -- to make managing your food inventory and deciding what to eat much easier.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET
This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around.

I'm not much of a cook, but I'd be excited to try with help from the Bosch Home Connect Refrigerator. This side-by-side model has two built-in cameras -- one looking at the main interior of the fridge and another looking at the shelves on the door. Bosch partnered with Chefling -- a recipe and meal-planning app -- to develop software so the cams can recognize the food in your fridge and recommend appropriate recipes. 

The fridge itself is already available in Europe, complete with cams, and it should come out in the US soon. The food recognition software and collaboration with Chefling is new to CES. Other appliance-makers such as Samsung and Whirlpool have made strides toward food recognition before, but I saw a demo of Bosch's fridge in action and it looks like a promising step toward making this cool concept viable. 

Chefling's app currently allows you to track your food inventory manually. You can scan individual barcodes or add items by name. A Chefling rep at CES was aware that the process could be tedious, and the new food recognition tech should cut out the manual labor entirely.

Put items in the fridge, and the Chefling app will show you what's new. It will name each item and you can look them over and make sure everything is correct. I'm sure you could fool the system with a crowded fridge -- the camera will need to see the item to identify it. I also wonder if strange packaging could trick it. But the controlled demo worked seamlessly and the app added all of the items to a running inventory list. 

I'd have been impressed if the demo ended there. If this works as promised, the app will make grocery shopping much easier as you'll always have an updated list of what's in the fridge with little to no input on your part. But the Chefling app can do more. It can use your food inventory to recommend what to cook. 

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Different filters can help you narrow your options, and you can search the web and import recipes from other sources if you don't find something to your tastes. Pick a recipe, and you'll get guided cooking assistance. The Chefling app will even preheat your oven to the proper temp if you have a compatible smart model from Bosch. 

The collaboration between Bosch and Chefling sounds like a promising step toward a seamless smart kitchen that's actually helpful. In action, the demo worked well, and I hope it will be similarly capable outside of a controlled demo environment. If it is, I might actually cook something more complicated than frozen meals knowing that my fridge has my back.