Food will practically cook itself in Jenn-Air's new smart ovens

Appliance manufacturer Whirlpool teams up with Silicon Valley startup Innit to build foolproof kitchen appliances.

Jenn-Air connected wall oven

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It's safe to say that most people aspire to eating delicious, nutritious, and elegantly prepared meals; but since many of us lack the requisite skills in the kitchen, "cooking dinner" often means throwing a a frozen entrée in the microwave. Whirlpool might soon have an answer for culinarily challenged folk like us, thanks to a new partnership with the food-prep technology company Innit.

Whirlpool will start consumer trials with Innit's smart-appliance technology embedded in its high-end Jenn-Air connected ovens, with retail availability by the first half of 2017. In addition to Wi-Fi adapters, the ovens will have sensors that can automate the cooking process. A companion app with recipes will guide the home chef with step-by-step food-prep instructions. The oven will then tailor its cooking process according to weight, temperature, and the type of food being prepared.

“The Innit technology leverages the advanced convection system and powerful cooking elements already present on the Jenn-Air wall oven,” said Whirlpool vice president and general manager Brett Dibkey.

If you're not familiar with Innit, the Silicon Valley-based company develops technology to make smart appliances even smarter. Think cameras and sensors inside your fridge so you're always aware of what provisions you have and how fresh they are, and meal-planning software that takes that information into account and suggests which meals you can prepare with it. In the case of the Jenn-Air ovens, sensors will make sure your meals are prepared to perfection.

“By unlocking information within food, Innit can help consumers get more out of their Jenn-Air appliances and reduce dinnertime stress,” said Innit founder and president Eugenio Minvielle.

Whirlpool also plans to incorporate Innit's technology into its KitchenAid appliances, although Dibkey declined to provide details on that score. He did say that Innit integration is planned as part of Whirlpool and Innit’s “joint roadmap.”

It will be a few months before consumers will be able to lay their hands on the new Jenn-Air ovens; but if you live in New York City, you can catch a demo on some prototypes at high-end home-products retailer Pirch's new SoHo showroom starting Thursday.

Why this matters: The Whirlpool/Innit partnership could take the smart-appliance concept to a whole new level, beyond simple connectivity for remote operation and monitoring and on to processes that make it easy to prepare restaurant-quality food at home.

And while you shouldn't expect to find this level of technology in inexpensive appliances, you won't have to step up to the ultra high end to get it. The least-expensive Jenn-Air ovens are expected to start at $3100, with higher-end finish options kicking the price tag above $5000. 

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