Smart Kitchens Help Consumers Cook Up An Ounce of Prevention

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1. Smart Utensils
Smart forks and spoons are emerging on the market to help track and monitor eating habits while combating medical conditions or side effects. The most celebrated of these products is the HAPIfork, the flagship product of Hong-Kong based HAPILABS Ltd. The Bluetooth enabled HAPIfork itself was originally developed by Slow Control for medical use. Using the Slow Control technology, the connected cutlery measures how many mouthfuls you take and buzzes and flashes if you’re scoffing down your grub too quickly. Eating too quickly can lead to weight gain, digestive problems, gastric reflux and even postoperative complications. The mobile app and dashboard help tie it all together. You can see your meals in real time, check your time in between fork servings, download your fork data wirelessly, set workout challenges, track your progress and even score points with their HAPi Challenge. Though a direct-to-consumer product, the postoperative use cases can be utilized by physicians to monitor patient’s intake and avoid complications post surgery.

Liftware, a company out of California, has developed a stabilizing handle and a series of attachments from soup spoons to knives/forks to help people with hand tremor eat more easily. They work alongside clinics across the country to offer the product to patients. Google has invested in the parent company LiftLabs to fund the efforts. With many clinical trials under their belt, the Liftware smart utensil attachment may become a staple in the kitchen of the 10 million people worldwide affected with Parkinson’s.

2. Smart Cooking
Ever think there would be a smart frying pan? Or even a smart cutting board? Well there is, among other kitchen essentials in your smart kitchen of the future.

The Pantelligent Smart Frying Pan when paired with their free app gives you step-by-step directions on cooking your favorite foods and real time temperature feedback to make sure you get that steak just right. The Prep Pad by The Orange Chef tallies up nutritional info from the foods added to any bowl on its connected food scale. The information is then transferred to an iPad app so you know exactly how many carb, fat and protein calories are in your food. It then gives you an overview of every ingredient you put on Prep Pad throughout your week and logs that with your connected Jawbone Up to help you meet your health goals.

These advancements are great but what if you could 3d print your next meal? Many such concepts are hitting the market, products such as Foodini, The Green Onyx and The Genie are some to name a few. The Genie, developed by an Israeli company, White Innovations, is a uniquely shaped kitchen appliance of sorts which includes ingredient capsules and a machine that prints those ingredients into edible foods. The food capsules are designed to maintain a shelf life of up to five years, with no preservatives used. Each capsule is designed for a single serving and ranges anywhere from couscous to cake to muffins. The meals are available in both medium- and large-sized portions. So far, the Genie has options such as gluten-free and vegetarian as well. The company plans on tackling food waste and obesity with their invention. The Genie will initially be marketed to businesses, and then the company will consider marketing to households, with an estimated price tag of $1,000. According to the company’s founders, they have already seen a great deal of interest and are in the mass production stage. So far, the company has received thousands of orders from Israel, the US and Greece.

3. Smart Fridge
Ideally I would like to see a fridge that orders food online automatically based off your grocery stock levels, but until then we have The Family Hub Smart Refrigerator from Samsung. The Family Hub Fridge is a new Wi-Fi enabled refrigerator that helps manage your groceries, connect with your family and entertain. The Family Hub has three built in cameras that take a photo every time the door closes, you can use your smartphone to access the photos from anywhere so you always know what you have and what you’re missing. The Wifi enabled touchscreen displays/coordinates schedules, interactive notes/reminders, shows off pictures, connects with a collection of apps for music streaming and even shopping for groceries online.

4. Smart Plate
Probably the most interesting wired kitchen concept we’ve come across is the smart plate. If you’re used to manually inputting all your caloric intake through various food tracking apps, then SmartPlate wants to make your life easier. The 10-inch plate is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled and, get this, it comes equipped with three mini cameras and weight sensors. Basically, your dish will be watching you – or in other words, figuring out what you’re eating. If you serve yourself too much, the plate will alert you. There’s also an app that syncs up with the plate to automatically analyze and keep track of every meal, and connects to MyFitnessPal and FitBit.

How it all comes together
There are many ways healthcare practitioners will utilize the internet of things, and it is safe to say that much of that will begin in the kitchen. In time, the connected devices throughout the kitchen will talk to each other. Your Fitbit may send dietary information to your appliances to recommend the optimal meal to restore energy after your run; connecting the same FitBit to food printers can have food generated for you that is appropriate for that specific day. We are in the early stages of these smart kitchen devices because many of them don’t communicate with each other cohesively, something that is bound to evolve. As healthcare providers whose care continues to trend towards a patient centric future, it will be important to leverage these innovations to achieve positive health and wellness.

illustration by Maggie Chiang

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Contributing Editor / TRC Liaison The founder of IMST Innovations, Aneel is a certified telehealth coordinator who works with organizations to develop sustainable telemedicine solutions. He is Telemedicine Magazine's liaison to The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers.

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