How hard is it to heat a frozen meal in your oven or microwave?
According to Whirlpool, it's a challenge. That's why the appliance manufacturer created Scan-to-Cook, a new feature in Whirlpool's app that will send instructions to your oven or microwave so it can cook your frozen dish correctly and automatically. Whirlpool had plenty of empty boxes of DiGiorno Pizza, Marie Callender's pot pies and Alexia frozen fries on display this week at CES in Las Vegas, where company reps used an iPad to demonstrate how Scan-to-Cook works.
The feature in the company's Android and iOS app will work with a line of new Wi-Fi-enabled products Whirlpool will release this summer in the US: two new ranges (one gas, one electric), a double wall oven and a microwave.
Amping up the way you cook convenience food comes at a steep cost: $1,700 and $1,800 for the electric and gas ranges, respectively; $2,600 for the wall oven and $900 for the microwave. Converted, that's about £1,370 or AU$2,250 for the electric, £1,450 or AU$2,380 for the gas, £2,115 or AU$ 3,570 for the wall oven and £725 or AU$1,190 for the microwave.
Let's say you're about to heat up some frozen tater tots. If you have one of the compatible products, you use the app to scan the bar code on your package of tots, and it will pull up the heating instructions from a database of frozen foods. The app will then send those instructions to your oven, range or microwave, and the appliances will automatically set the correct cooking temperature and set timers for your food.
Jeff Stoller, who works in internet of things strategy at Whirlpool, said the automation is especially helpful if you have a dish that has multiple steps, such as a dish you have to stir after 3 minutes and then return to the microwave for another minute.
We've seen more products and programs like Scan-to-Cook popping up around the CES floor. These scanners are using an existing piece of information (the bar code) to add more convenience to your life, such as the GeniCan that scans your empty food boxes to automatically build shopping lists and order more groceries. But Scan-to-Cook forces us to ask: is heating frozen food a big enough challenge that you'd throw down $1,000 or more? I don't know if the pizza rolls crowd will be on board.