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Here’s a connected oven that feels too good to be true

It looks like a company out of Palo Alto has packaged up my hopes and dreams for a connected kitchen into one internet-enabled oven. From linking to my activity tracker so it can recommend recipes based on my calories burned so far today to suggesting optimal ways to cook something based on how I’ve liked it in the past, the MAID (Make All Incredible Dishes) oven purports to do it all.

This project, which I saw first on the Atmel blog, and then on Kickstarter, won’t ship until next November at the earliest and will cost about $450 for a combo microwave/convection oven. And while I’m excited that people are trying to build out this vision of a connected home where data flows freely among devices to help improve people’s lives, the device feels too good to be true — or rather, too good to be built in a year.

This is one of many projects where the idea created by people who are well-versed in a technology-driven ethos of sharing data and building complementary services on a specific platform (the MAID platform?) will meet the realities of today’s appliance and manufacturing world, where adding a smarter microprocessor inside an oven means adding $5 to the bill of materials (BOM). And the white box market is one where margins are slim and reducing your BOM is a priority.

So as I look at the MAID oven, I’m eager to see the founders’ vision realized; but in an actual oven from a major manufacturer, not on a Kickstarted project I might not see for a year at best. So then the question becomes, how do we push the behemoths in the appliance world to think like the fast-moving folks in the tech world, while also encouraging both to understand the value of security, user privacy and a business model that relies on transparency about the data?

In the next year or so I think we’ll see a lot more of those conversations happening, either because old-school appliance vendors are getting serious about the internet of things (check out our chat with Whirlpool from Structure Connect or Samsung buying SmartThings as an indicator). Today, the MAID Kickstarter project seems too good to be true. But my hope is that it won’t be for too long. Consumers will really benefit if both the old-line manufacturing world and the connected tech people come together to use data for improving the customer experience, making better products and even saving energy.

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