Fridges that can talk. Tabletop cooking. Automatic composting.
These are all innovations to change the way that consumers look at and interact with food that were on display this year in Las Vegas at CES 2017, the annual Consumer Electronics Show.
Here are six of the food-related ideas that made a splash at CES 2017.
Whirpool Zera Home Recycler
Indoor composting without the mess, smell or work comes to any kitchen with Whirlpool’s new speedy home food recycling powerhouse. Food scraps go in the counter-height machine and in 24 hours, prime fertilizer comes out.
This machine takes almost any kind of food waste — including meats and dairy, which are verboten in traditional composting — and recycles it into nutrient-rich compost. According to the Zera Home Recycler’s Indiegogo page, the average American family creates 400 pounds of food waste a year. The Zera can recycle about 95% of that.
The Zera won a CES 2017 Best of Innovation Award, and Engadget crowned the Zera its best connected home product.
The product is currently available for preorder to backers on Indiegogo, and will be in stores later this year.
Panasonic Flat-Top Cooker
Convenience was one of the fastest-growing consumer demands of 2016, and shows no sign of slowing down in the new year.
Panasonic’s new concept Flat-Top Cooker elevates the desire for fast and easy at-home cooking to a new level, using microwave technology to cook plated food that users place on cookers embedded in a dining table. According to a company press release, “There is no need for pots and pans. Food is prepared in front of those gathered, and served fresh and hot.”
Gut health's new gadget
Digestive health continues to be top of mind for many consumers, and FoodMarble’s AIRE device is here to help. The handheld app-connected gadget works like a breathalyzer test for gas, and can identify foods that trigger GI distress in individual consumers so they can avoid future upset stomachs.
AIRE users need breathe into the device on an empty stomach so it can analyze baseline FODMAP levels, a carbohydrate category found in most foods that can cause gas buildup in the gut. Consumers then ingest the AIRE’s included food packets one at a time to test their breath and see how their bodies respond to triggers such as fructose and lactose.
Once data from each test is recorded, the AIRE app can help consumers create a custom diet of foods that are compatible with their unique digestive system — all without a trip to the doctor’s office.
The AIRE is available for preorder and is expected to ship in the fall.
Calorie tracker camera tech
There’s no shortage of calorie counting apps on the market, but the creators of popular diet tracker Lose It! may have just ended the competition with the debut of their innovative new feature, Snap It.
Snap It uses advanced image recognition technology to identify foods and report calorie levels in seconds. Consumers simply snap a photo of their meal, and the Snap It tool identifies individual food items. Consumers then confirm their items and select a serving size, and Snap It lists total calories for each item.
Smartphone users can download the latest version of the Lose It! app to access Snap It.
Smart (and trying to be smart) fridges
Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator, unveiled at CES 2016, disrupted the market and positioning of the cold kitchen appliance. This year, Samsung introduced the Family Hub 2.0, which uses tech integration to help consumers cook, shop and schedule their lives. LG also announced its foray into the space with the Smart InstaView.
An in-fridge camera lets people see what’s actually in the refrigerator at all times — making it easier to remember if they really need to get more milk when they’re at the grocery store. But the fridge can also order those groceries online.
Both refrigerators also update another traditional function of the family refrigerator: being the household bulletin board. These refrigerators can create and display personalized memos, calendars and photos that are updated either at the fridge or through apps.
And, like many new smart home products, these refrigerators talk. Users can add to grocery lists, make commands, and even ask the refrigerator to find a recipe or play music.
But for those who are not in the market for a new refrigerator, Smarter showed CES its FridgeCam. This is put inside the refrigerator, and it takes pictures of the contents.
Just-in-time grain management
Even though there have been large oversupplies of many agricultural products this year, that food should never go to waste. Amber Agriculture created a product to help make farmers aware of the condition of commodities stored in silos, ensuring that the first link in the food supply chain stays strong.
The product deploys a series of small sensors to measure environmental conditions inside the silos, as well as compounds that indicate how moist the grain might be. Information from the sensors is accessible via smartphone.
Engadget named Amber Agriculture best startup at CES 2017.