The annual Consumer Electronics Show took over fabulous Las Vegas this week, bestowing upon the world the new technological advancements that might or might not shape the future. This tech isn’t limited to autonomous vehicles, smartphones, and ultra-thin televisions; it’s applied to the realm of food and dining too. Here are the new culinary gadgets — some appearing to actually be useful, some not — to come out of CES 2018.
A Bluetooth speaker with a built-in bottle opener
This product comes from a company called Scosche, which has cooked up a wide variety of personal and car audio devices over the years. The BoomBottle Bluetooth speaker is water- and dust-resistant, and for some reason, it can also serve as a bottle opener. Sounds like Scosche tried to invent the only device one would need while listening to some tunes and popping some cold ones during a day at the beach. But is it really that inconvenient to pack a regular Bluetooth speaker and a separate bottle opener? And beer consumed at the beach should come out of a can anyway: Broken bottles become quite hazardous when their shards get lost in the sand.
A beer-delivery robot
Some day, robots will perform all of the chores humans loathe, right before they rise up and take control of civilization. Until then, robotic technology is being used for simpler tasks, such as grabbing a beer from the fridge. Aeolus Robotics has invented this perfect companion for couch potatoes. It’s cute, it can help with household cleaning in addition to its beverage-fetching abilities, and it’s pretty small: If it becomes self-aware, the robot’s owner should be able to overpower it.
An instant wine decanter
Inviting a bunch of wine-snob friends over for drinks and forgetting to let the bottles breathe ahead of time is awfully embarrassing. The Aveine Aerator is here to get the job done at the last minute. This gizmo allows users to choose exactly how long they would like their wine decanted — between one and 24 hours — and achieves that level in a single pour. An Aveine spout fits over the bottle, and a corresponding app tells it how much air to let through with the pour, thus mimicking the hours-long decanting process in seconds. Just don’t let the wine snobs know about it. They’ll probably consider it cheating.
A tablet built in to a range hood
Touchscreens are everywhere, popping up in new places all the time. General Electric has blazed a new trail by creating a screen meant to be installed directly above a kitchen stove. GE’s Family Hub is 27 inches, can control other smart-home devices, and shows video feeds from any internet-connected cameras in the house. There’s also a camera for video chatting and a second one that faces down so home cooks can get that perfect bird’s-eye shot for their Instagram feeds. And, yes, the Family Hub does include an exhaust hood. GE really thought of everything for people who have a whole lot of disposable income.
An oven that connects to Alexa
Many people may be surprised to learn that the Amazon Echo and its Alexa voice assistant are more than a high-tech kitchen timer. Now, thanks to Whirlpool’s new smart oven, Alexa can help cook dinner. The disembodied voice can set the oven to a specific temperature for a specific time. The oven also hooks up with Yummly, an app that can send pre-heating and cooking instructions to get everything ready while the cook is prepping ingredients. Don’t worry, it’ll still operate as a normal dumb oven if the internet happens to go down.
A refrigerator that plays music from a smartphone
Samsung’s newest smart fridge has all of the typical smart-fridge features — “typical smart-fridge features,” what a world — and the company has added a few more this year. This refrigerator can still play music from built in apps such as Pandora, but now users can stream songs and podcasts directly from their smartphones. The fridge also has new speakers that are supposedly “deep in bass and rich in mid-range.”
A refrigerator with a see-through touchscreen
Not to be outdone, LG’s new smart fridge — it seems everyone is making a smart fridge these days — comes equipped with a 29-inch touchscreen that becomes transparent when users give it a couple of taps. In theory, this will allow users to see what they need to add to their grocery lists and make said lists with a touchscreen app at the same time. It’s some pretty specific technology, but environmentalists who hate wasting energy by taking grocery inventory while the refrigerator door is open will be pleased.
A robot that serves food and drink at the airport
Upon finding a spot at the airport to plop down and wait for their flight, the last thing an air traveler wants to do is give up that precious real estate to grab some mediocre grub or a beverage. LG has a new robot that will be of use in this scenario: The “CLOi” bot can deliver food and drinks. Details are scarce, and the robot is still in its concept phase. However, if all goes according to plan for LG, Olympians and sports fans visiting South Korea this winter can expect to see a legion of CLOis doing work at the Incheon International Airport.
A countertop dishwasher that can cook seafood
Full-size dishwashers take up precious space in small apartments, so Heatworks has invented a new model called the Tetra that is small enough to sit on a countertop. It doesn’t have to connect to plumbing, and even with its compact size, there’s enough room to wash two full place settings. And, for those who really like to get bang for their buck, the Tetra can double as a cooking device for seafood — think boiled shrimp, maybe? — because its water is “purer than water from any other dishwasher available today.” Heatworks hasn’t said whether cooking seafood in the dishwasher will result in fish-scented plates when the appliance is used for its main purpose.
• All CES 2018 Coverage [The Verge]
• All Food Tech Coverage [E]