Grilling can be quite rewarding and enjoyable, but it can also be a hassle. Hunching over the hot, sizzling grates while your friends hang out, enjoy beer and tell old college stories about you can get tired fast. The new BBiQ lets you drop your spatula and unchain yourself from the grill while guaranteeing that your food doesn't suffer.
Created by Michael Raymond and Patrick Smith, BBiQ includes a series of probes that grillers can inject into their meats and foods to monitor temperature. It can send the information via Bluetooth to the accompanying iPhone or Android app up to 50 feet (15 m) away, letting the grill master know that the food is done or ready to flip.
Instead of simply monitoring and relaying temperature, the BBiQ works within specific recipes, letting you know when it's time to turn the meat, when it's time to season it and when it's time to pull it off. The BBiQ also helps in coordinating multiple-food meals, outlining what to put on the grill first, indicating how long to wait before putting the next food on, and even suggesting where to put each item on the grill.
"What always bothered me about regular food probes is that you needed to know the temperature for whatever you were trying to cook,” says Raymond. "And even if you memorized the temperature charts and set an alarm, it only tells you when the food is fully cooked. What about when to turn it or when to add seasoning? That was just something you had to figure out for yourself."
"Suddenly you’ll be able to grill ahi tuna or eggplant without worrying that you have no idea what you’re doing," adds Smith.
The current BBiQ device uses an ATmega328 microcontroller and supports one or two probes. Plans call for an advanced model that can support three probes. In addition to Bluetooth, the hardware includes an LED and buzzer, which alert the user when action at the grill is required. For instance, if the heat suddenly shuts off, the BBiQ will alarm and also send a notification to the grill master's smartphone.
On the software side, the BBiQ currently works with an accompanying Android app, which is about 50 percent complete. It displays the real-time temperature of the items being monitored on the grill and a list of recipe steps. It also gives estimated timing based on that information and sends alerts. The app includes built-in recipes and will be designed so that users can manually enter their own.
Raymond and Smith are currently working to decrease the hardware's size by 30 to 50 percent. They also plan to develop iOS and web-based versions of the half-complete Android app, as well as a web portal. Further down the line, they plan to add additional app functions, including features for sharing recipes and photos, planning meals based on what food you have at home, and creating shopping lists.
They are trying to raise US$75,000 on Kickstarter to get all that in motion. Basic single-probe BBiQ models start at a $29 pledge, and "advanced" BBiQ models with three probes and rechargeable batteries start at $89. They hope to keep the retail price under $50.
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