The best tools for hooking up your kitchen to the internet

The best tools for hooking up your kitchen to the internet
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This is part five of our holiday gift guide for your Quartziest friends and relatives. Collect all the installments here.

Long the epicenter of household gadgetry, the kitchen is an ideal playground for the internet of things. With all the household work that takes place there, not to mention the limited counter space, the smart devices we fill our kitchens with need to deliver on making our culinary exploits simpler and easier. The ones we’ve chosen aim to do just that, gifting more control and less complication to your nearest and dearest—in the room that arguably matters most.

Ultimately, they’re a taste of what’s to come in the connected kitchen of the future: more space, more time, and more enjoyment, with a dash of technological whimsy.

The quantified portion

orange chef prep pad
Nuts to confusing nutritional labels.
Image: The Orange Chef Co.

Prep Pad — The Orange Chef Co. — $149.95

If you’re like most people, binge eating during the holidays inspires resolutions to be healthier in the new year. There are countless apps designed to help track what you eat and its nutritional value, but they tend to be tedious and inaccurate. Enter The Orange Chef Prep Pad, which eliminates one of the hassles of nutritional data entry by measuring your serving sizes for you. A single serving of oatmeal with fruit, for instance, can be easily logged by adding the oatmeal and then fruit to one bowl, zeroing the scale as you add each. The pad should improve your cooking, too, since measuring ingredients by weight is more accurate than using cups or tablespoons.

The clever cocktail shaker

smart cocktail shaker
Here’s to sparing you the misery of poorly mixed cocktails.
Image: Magnified Self

B4RM4N — Magnified Self — $199 (estimated)

What nerdy mixologist doesn’t want an internet-connected cocktail shaker that practically makes its own drinks?  The shaker, which communicates with your phone via Bluetooth, comes with a recipes app and built-in LED sensors that sound off as you pour, so you know when to “say when” for every ingredient, including ice. The gift is well-suited to those who appreciate a well-balanced drink, but don’t have enough time (or alcohol) to blindly experiment.

For now, the startup behind B4RM4, which is backed by a Kickstarter campaign, will pre-sell you the shaker for $99. Once the company hits its fundraising goal, the price will rise to an estimated $199.

The Holy Grail of coffee

smart coffee maker
Already ready already.
Image: Belkin

10-Cup Smart Optimal Brew Coffeemaker with WeMo — Mr. Coffee/Belkin — $149.99 

Let’s just admit that at 6am, walking to the kitchen to press “on” is hard. In fact, coffee should just know to be hot, fresh, and available no matter the time of day. Mr. Coffee has partnered with WeMo, a free app that has applied its talents to other devices we like, to grant that wish. You can program your coffee maker to power up at sunset, or tap your phone to brew a pot that’s ready when you walk in the door.

There are even conventional perks. The machine brews 20% faster than the average unconnected coffeemaker, yielding a 10-cup pot in 8 minutes.

The self-sufficient slow cooker

smart Crock Pot
The slow cooker that isn’t slow-minded.
Image: Belkin

Smart Slow-Cooker with WeMo — Crock Pot/Belkin — $129.99

It seems odd that the age-old practice of slow cooking might somehow benefit from the internet’s speed. Besides, the genius of a slow cooker is that once your recipe is in the pot, it doesn’t need you. Except that sometimes it does.

Slow-cooking devotees know that some recipes call for raising the cooking temperature near the end or lowering it from HIGH midway through. There are times when you wish you could throw your ingredients into the cooker but wait until later to start it up. Under these scenarios, Belkin’s WeMo proves itself useful, freeing you to be wherever you need to be and still reign over your connected crockery.

Grocery nirvana

Don’t forget the eggs.
Don’t forget the eggs.
Image: LG

Smart Thinq refrigerator — LG — $3,000+

In most places, the self-aware refrigerator, one that knows when you’re low on butter, texts you to buy milk, and conserves energy while you’re away, is still but a promise of the future. But if you’re an internet-of-things die-hard and happen to be in South Korea, LG has launched a fridge (along with a string of other appliances) that uses an app called HomeChat to talk to your smartphone. (The fridge will roll out elsewhere soon, the company has said.) There’s a built-in camera that lets you peek at your perishables remotely, and the fridge updates you when groceries are about to go bad.

As with any novel appliance, the early bird model has drawbacks. For example, you’re in charge of entering expiration dates for groceries whose shelf life you want tracked (yeah right). And at this stage, you’ll be paying a hefty price. Promise it to your loved one once the fridge hits more countries, and kinks like those may have been ironed out.

The Quartz holiday gift guide

Stylish essentials for the savvy traveler

The best tech toys to take on real-life adventures

The essentials every video junkie should own

Toys that help kids become global leaders

Drones: the best gift of the season

More installments coming this week