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Summary:

Replacing dumb kitchen appliances with smarter ones will likely take decades, and given the fights over who will control the home, you may not want to start yet. Here’s a retrofit that may help.

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photo: Supermechanical

One day many of us might have a Wi-Fi connected oven, but that’s going to take some time. For example, I spend thousands on connected gadgets in my home, but since my ovens were purchased in Dec. 2012 before GE or LG had launched any of their Wi-Fi enabled appliances, I’m probably a decade or two out from having any sort of connected cooker.

Instead of mourning, I’m going to back to a Kickstarter project from Austin, Texas-based Supermechnical, that will help me make my current ovens smarter with a gadget ranging from $98 to $160 that uses a variety of sensors and some computing power tucked into a well-designed base. It affixes to my grill, oven or stove using magnets. The Range OI takes the Range connected thermometer concept Supermechnical launched last year and puts it into a base that contains an accelerometer, a temperature sensor and some smarts. These are also the guys behind the Twine sensor.

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Because the original Range thermometer requires the user to plug the device into her iPad or iPhone (Bluetooth can’t transmit through your oven door), the idea behind the Range OI is to keep the thermometer in the meat or food as needed, but allow the base outside the oven to transmit information about both the oven and the food inside. This turns what was a process that required you to be in the kitchen with your device, into one that takes place without you. The makers of the iGrill thermometer is set up the same way, but this offers a more industrial capability and more smarts.

With the Range OI you can set the timing information for your oven or set temperature parameters and the oven will notify you when the time is reached or temps are exceeded (or not met). The product also takes advantage of your phone to let you set alerts based on your proximity to the oven. So if you haven’t touched your oven and it’s on and you leave your house, the Range OI app will let you know your oven is on.

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Jon Kestner, one of the creators of the Range OI said the product had to deal with several design parameters such as figuring out how to add connectivity and intelligence to a product that has a multi-decade product replacement lifecycle and not wanting to add more screens for people to look at.

“I’m 37 and I’ve never bought an oven. I bought a house and it has an oven, so how do we try to add some intelligence to it,” he said to me in an interview. “We thought of it as a set top box model for TVs, where you might buy a smart TV, but the technology could outpace the TV, so many of us will instead rely on a Roku or other set top box for adding intelligence.”

As for not having a screen, the product uses your phone via its app or can use the AllJoyn protocol to share temperature or oven status with LG’s smart TVs. Kestner said implementing AllJoyn took only an afternoon of effort and didn’t even require his team to figure out a UI for the notification or any other details. He’s curious to see how notifications for the oven would be displayed — or couldn’t be displayed — on other AllJoyn devices.

The Oven OI will ship in March of next year, and comes with a variety of tweaks for oven, stove or grill use. The grilling version is especially cool because the materials are actually flame-proof.