The kitchen is the heart of any home, and just like biological hearts they can sometimes benefit from some technological help. Whether you're the kind of person that delights in bringing together the ideal mix of ingredients to create that perfect meal, or someone who finds making toast a chore, you're bound to find something that appeals among our pick of the best culinary contraptions of 2017.
Inirv React knobs
Kitchen mishaps are an all-too-common occurrence, whether it's the burning of a meal or a serious gash while slicing and dicing. The Inirv React knobs can't help with the latter scenario, but can with the former. The system includes smart knobs to replace a stove's standard knobs, and a sensor hub that can detect stove-top fires or if the stove has been unattended. If danger is detected, the knobs can autonomously turn the burners off, or they can be turned off remotely via a smartphone app.
Inirv reached its crowdfunding goal earlier this year, and with the beta build of the system having recently been completed, the React smart knobs are getting closer to backers' kitchens with reservations now being taken for kits starting from $99.
Panasonic Movable Fridge
The fridge is a cornerstone of the kitchen – and usually just about as portable. Relocating these behemoths is usually one of the biggest hassles when moving house, so the idea of dragging the fridge around just so it's closer to the sofa or the dinner table isn't something that most would even contemplate. But that didn't stop Panasonic developing the Movable Fridge concept. Panasonic's creation will actually respond to voice commands and move under its own steam, so there's no chance of developing a hernia to get it from A to B, and it packs a variety of sensors so it won't bang into the furniture on its travels. Panasonic was showing the Movable Fridge concept at IFA in September, where the company was gauging interest for the device.
Despite the novelty value, we suspect this isn't a concept that has legs.
LG Smart InstaView fridge
If you're happy with your fridge staying put, but are less happy for family members to stand pondering its innards with the door open, then LG has you covered. As its name suggests, the InstaView Door-in-Door refrigerator has a display integrated into the door that not only acts an interface for various smart fridge functions, like viewing recipes and leaving memos for other family members, but can also turn transparent to let you peer inside without opening the door. Furthermore, thanks to the 2-megapixel wide-angle camera inside the fridge that allows pictures of the fridge's interior to be sent to your smartphone, you can even check whether you need to grab some milk while at the supermarket. Oh, and like more and more devices, the fridge boasts Amazon Alexa integration, so you order groceries, search recipes, or simply play music, via voice control.
Millo upside-down smoothie blender
Blenders are definitely one of the noisiest kitchen appliances, so when you want to spin up an early-morning smoothie, other members of the household may not be too appreciative. Lithuania-based Millo set out to literally turn smoothie maker design on its head with its eponymous device that is not only much quieter than conventional blenders, but is also much easier to clean. The Millo design combines an aluminum base unit housing spinning magnets with a 710-ml (24-oz) glass top that serves as both the mixing chamber and cup. As for the blades that do the smoothieafying, they're in the lid of that cup, so when the cup is placed upside down on the base, the blades get spinning with minimal friction via the magic of magnets. The result is less noise, and blades that are much easier to clean.
You can check Millo's progress on the blender's Kickstarter page.
Pico Model C home brewer
Home brewing has typically been a process relegated to the garage or back shed, but Seattle-based PicoBrew has managed to shrink all the necessary bits and pieces down into an compact package that fits comfortably on a kitchen countertop and is easy enough for even the most novice brewer to use. Following on from the company's previous Zymatic and Pico offerings, the Pico Model C can brew up 5 liters (1.3 gal) of beer at a time using special "PicoPacks." These are akin to coffee pods, but the packs contain all the ingredients to made different beers from craft breweries around the world. More adventurous brewers can also design their own PicoPacks online to create their own signature taste.
Perk Brew coffee maker
There's no shortage of coffee makers designed to make getting that cup of joe as easy as possible, but true coffee connoisseurs have generally had to put in a little more time and effort to brew up the perfect cup. The Perk Brew aims to make life a bit easier for coffee aficionados. Originally designed for use in zero-gravity environments (yes, really), the Perk Brew's design is claimed to better maintain a uniform temperature than conventional machines, while separating the coffee particles through the principle of "mechanical suspension."
This approach obviously appealed to plenty of coffee drinkers with the team's crowdfunding campaign reaching its goal. Pre-orders will soon be taken from non-backers on the company website.
Zera food recycler
Composting is a great way to enrich soil and cut down on the amount of food waste being sent to landfill. On the downside, it takes a lot of time and effort and a decent amount of outdoor space that can attract pests. The Zera Food Recycler is a nifty kitchen gadget that addresses all these problems. Developed through Whirlpool Corporation's WLabs, it's essentially a bin into which a paper packet of Zera Additive is thrown, along with all your food scraps – it can even handle meat and dairy, which a conventional compost heap can't. Once the bin is filled up, simply turn it on and motorized auger-style blades will get to work mixing, slicing and aerating the contents as heat is applied. Then, in as little as 24 hours a nutrient-rich soil can be removed from a drawer at the bottom of the unit. This is another product that blew past its crowdfunding goal and is still "coming soon," but with the backing of Whirlpool it's a pretty safe bet the Zera will be in kitchens in the not-too-distant future.
You can keep abreast of updates on the progress of the Zera here.
Check out more of the best in technology and innovation from 2017.
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