Whatever you do, don't call Miele's Wi-Fi-enabled Dialog Oven a microwave.
The German manufacturer of high-end appliances announced its latest wall oven Wednesday at the IFA trade show in Berlin. What makes the Dialog Oven special is that it cooks your food with electromagnetic waves (microwaves also use this same type of energy), traditional radiant heat from the top and bottom of the oven, and a convection fan. The result, Miele says, is better-tasting food that cooks faster. The Dialog Oven will also work with an app that will let you browse recipes and send instructions to the oven through Wi-Fi.
But the Dialog Oven is more sophisticated than a microwave oven and more innovative than a traditional oven, Miele executives said.
"The Dialog Oven doesn't communicate with you," said Markus Miele, the company's managing director (and great-grandson of the company's cofounder and namesake). "It is having a dialogue with your food."
Here's how the Dialog Oven works: Two antennas located in the top of the oven emit electromagnetic waves in the frequency range around 915 MHz (the same range as most European mobile phone companies, so the oven has an extra-thick door so it doesn't interfere with phones). The waves respond to the texture of the food and adjust accordingly. At the same time, the antennas measure how much energy the food has absorbed so they know when cooking is complete. This is all done in tandem with radiant heat and a convection fan for faster cooking that's gentler and more effective than microwave ovens, which typically use 2.45GHz, Miele executives said. In other words, microwaves assault your food with electromagnetic waves while the Dialog Oven wants to massage your food with those waves.
Miele will begin to sell the Dialog Oven in Germany and Austria in 2018 for 7,990 euros (roughly $9,505, £7,355 or AU$12,035). Miele plans to eventually make the oven available throughout the rest of Europe before it considers selling it in the U.S., said Markus Miele, the company's managing director.
At a demo during IFA, chefs cooked a four-course meal to show the breadth of the Dialog Oven's ability to pinpoint foods in the oven. For example, they placed small pieces of cod inside blocks of ice and placed the whole thing in the oven to bake. The fish was cooked, and the ice stayed intact, which Miele executives attributed to the electromagnetic waves' ability to pinpoint the food inside of the oven and cook only that.
Established manufacturers and startups have taken stabs at innovating the oven in the last few years. AEG will finally release its Wi-Fi-enabled oven with a built-in camera in the door next year. The June Intelligent Oven includes cameras and facial recognition technology to identify certain foods and cook them automatically. The Tovala Smart Oven uses a scanner to automatically cook prepackaged meals. And companies like Samsung, LG and GE have added connectivity such as Wi-Fi and near-field communication (NFC) to let you use your phone to talk to your oven. And there are examples of oven/microwave combinations from companies like Panasonic.
But Miele's Dialog Oven appears to be one of the first attempts to change the way ovens cook food rather than how you connect with it. The company has worked on the technology for the Dialog Oven for six years, Miele said. In the process, the manufacturer turned to other industries, including the human organ transplant and preservation, for the technology to make the Dialog Oven work.
Miele said he anticipates that the company will teach customers who buy the Dialog Oven how to use the new technology through in-home demos or other trainings.
"You have to learn a little bit," he said, "but it's not that difficult."
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