Is there any kitchen product that hasn't been made smart? We've already seen smart chopsticks and smart forks, so maybe it was inevitable that a team of MIT engineers would try to bring a smart frying pan to life via Kickstarter.
Dubbed Pantelligent, this souped up pan has built-in temperature sensors that can transmit data to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The pan itself has no switches or buttons, and its electronic components are hidden from sight inside the handle. All of its genius is in its paired app.
The app comes loaded with "dozens" of recipes created by Pantelligent's own team of chefs. But here's the genius part: When you select a recipe, the app will tell you exactly how hot the pan should be, and how long you need to cook each ingredient. The app shows a real-time readout of the current cooking surface temp, sends notifications if the temperature gets too low or too high, and lets you know when it's time to turn your meat or add more ingredients. It'll even ping your smartwatch.
As long as you follow the instructions, you'll end up with perfectly cooked food, every time. Or at least that's the promise.
The concept makes a lot of sense. We set our ovens to specific temperatures when we bake, so why can’t we demand that same level of precision from our cooktops when we stir-fry? Instead, we stare at our food until it “looks done,” all the while completely oblivious to exactly how hot the flame is. That's dumb. This is smart.
Though it could be a godsend for fledgling cooks, Pantelligent’s biggest hurdle is likely to be its price. Though no MSRP has been announced, backers need to pledge $199 or more to get one. The retail price point is likely to be thereabouts or higher.
There are a few other shortcomings. For one thing, Pantelligent isn't oven- or dishwasher-safe, so you're limited to stovetop cooking and hand-washing. For another, it won't work with induction cooktops. Finally, the app can only connect to one Pantelligent at a time, so you'll have to play fast and loose if you want to do surf 'n' turf.
On the whole, Pantelligent seems to be that rarest of gadgets: a "smart" device that doesn’t feel like a solution in search of a problem. It not only turns cooking into an exact science (which we're huge fans of here at Reviewed.com), but its constant monitoring and notification system means you can multitask while making dinner. The app even lets you create and store your own recipes if you feel like getting creative.
With a month and a half left in its funding period, the project has already achieved its $30,000 goal and doesn't show any sign of slowing down. The real question is: How many more kitchen gadgets will inventors try to smarten up? Cutting board? Cheese grater? We'll probably find out at CES 2015.