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Microwaves

GE's Alexa-controlled Scan-to-Cook Microwave makes the simplest appliance even simpler

Now you don't have to worry about the intricacies of using your microwave.

ge-scan-to-cook-with-echo-dot

A voice controlled microwave that can set cook times itself. 

GE

If you think using a microwave is hard, GE's latest invention is for you. The GE Smart Countertop Microwave with Scan-to-Cook Technology allows you to scan the barcode on packaged foods with your phone. The GE Appliances Kitchen app sends appropriate cooking times and power levels to your microwave, then you put your food in and wait.

While dumbing down the appliance already meant to circumvent actual cooking sounds ridiculous, as a person who can't cook, I'm intrigued. In the announcement, GE notes that customers tend not to mess with microwave settings for power levels, defrost modes or presets. With scan-to-cook, the microwave will optimize these extra settings for you.

GE claims the app has more than 3,000 meals in its database. Plus, the microwave will work with Amazon's assistant Alexa, so you can turn it off or add an extra minute of cooking time with a voice command. Other GE appliances work with Google's digital assistant (called Google Assistant) and GE has an AC unit that works with Apple's Siri, but no word yet on if this microwave will be compatible with the other two main digital assistants.

Whirlpool has an over-the-range microwave with a similar scan-to-cook feature, but even the cheaper models are pretty expensive at $640. The GE version will be much more reasonably priced at $140, plus it's a countertop model instead of an over-the-range model so you won't need to worry about installation.

The Scan-to-Cook Microwave from GE goes on sale on Wednesday with a special discount meant to follow in the wake of Amazon's big Prime Day sale. You can get the Scan-to-Cook Microwave plus an Amazon Echo Dot (a petite smart speaker with Alexa that's normally worth $50) for $155 combined. That's a nice price if you're interested in a microwave that can set cook times for you.

Aside from those like myself who want to spend even less effort when microwaving, the Scan-to-Cook tech could have nice implications for the elderly or the disabled, as they'll no longer need to read the packaging on foods to be able to microwave them properly. That said, I wish the microwave itself scanned foods, instead of asking you to keep your phone handy for the process. 

GE's had the scan-to-cook idea in the pipeline for quite some time, as the company's First Build micro factory put an experimental version of the feature in an oven in 2014

Now that it's finally ready for the public, we'll be testing the Scan-to-Cook Microwave from GE soon to find out how well it works and whether its 3,000 compatible meals comprise food you'd actually want to eat. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to spending even less time cooking than I do currently.