The Orange Chef company is launching an updated version of the Countertop, an electronic kitchen system that wants to make your kitchen “smart”. The device resembles a small cutting board (9.4″ x 6.6″ x 1.0″) and works as a knowledge source that provides step-by-step directions for you to cook. Partner devices can be diverse: in early examples include fitness trackers (via Bluetooth), blenders or crock-pots (via an adapter).
In Orange Chef’s example, the fitness tracker lets Countertop knows when you’ve just worked out, so it can suggest protein shake using the blender. It will provide the recipe, ingredients list and even “cooking” directions.
With this new version, all users have to do is put a kitchen appliance on top of the device, and it will know that you want to do something with it. From there, it can suggest recipes etc. The software is also vastly updated according to company representatives.
As a person who cooks quite a bit as a hobby, the official promo video can seem a bit “too much”, but the overall idea of Countertop remains interesting for a couple of reasons.
First, it may remove some friction about searching for ideas, ingredients and getting stuff done. Secondly, if #1 works as promised, it would probably bring much more variety to your cooking, which is always a good thing.
If not already done, I highly recommend them to add “cocktails” to the list of things that this gadget can help you with…
There is also the promise that it could get even smarter over time, but since we’ve been promised smart fridges for more than a decade now, I would take any promise with a serious grain of salt. The idea is interesting, but we’ll have to see if this device can deliver on its promise once in the field.
The other thing that I would look at is the compatibility with Kitchen Appliances. At first, only a limited number of Appliances will be compatible with Countertop, and that’s completely expected. IF there is success, others will probably join, but overall, I would expect those devices to be in the high-end range, and cost quite a bit.
Finally, there is the cost of this product: would you be willing to pay $199.95 for it? I’m not sure that I would – at least not without a proven track record. To encourage the first batch of buyers, the company will start selling at $99.95 until the fall. This would fall right into the impulse buying price range. This will be compatible with iOS devices, and Android will come “later” according to Orange Chef.
Since every family has a kitchen, the company, Orange Chef, has attracted investors that are looking for projects that can scale, including Google and New Enterprise Associates (NEA), who have invested $4.8 thus far.
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