The Internet has taken over your business. It's in your home office, it might even be on your phone or handheld computer. But the Internet has its "sites" set on another place in your life: the kitchen.
Wait just a minute, you say, there's no need for the Internet in the kitchen, right? Am I going to surf the Net on my toaster?
"At one point, everyone was saying, 'We have one TV, why would we want one anywhere else?'" says Robert Milgroom, director of investor relations with Turbochef Technologies. "We have a connection to the Internet with a computer in our home office, but many now have access through their Palm Pilots. The premise is that the Internet is pervasive to computing.
"People will have many opportunities and options to reach the Internet in the future."
Turbochef makes a rapid-cook oven with microprocessing controls that can cook food up to 10 times faster than a regular oven, twice as fast as a microwave, with gourmet-quality results. Because the computer is already in the oven to control cooking, a wireless Web pad was added to provide an Internet connection.
"It's an always-on connection that sits on the countertop next to the oven," says Milgroom. "The pad operates the cooking controls, but also allows you to download recipes off the Internet, or even video stream so you could watch Martha Stewart and be preparing food simultaneously with her. The end result is not only will the Web pad provide you with all the functionality of the Internet, but you can download upgrades to cooking performance as well."
Turbochef is so high-tech that the oven doesn't work without the computer. This isn't an average oven with a computer tacked on.
"We are trying to be the Internet-connected device in the kitchen, where 70 percent of the household decisions are made," says Milgroom.
Because food companies have a major interest in what you are eating, you may see coupons sent to the computer that are targeted at your specific eating habits based on a profile you fill out at the time of purchase. The cost of the computer might even be rendered to zero based on the value of the coupons that you use.
In the future, the oven might not be the only thing that's wired.
"We are building the software infrastructure where all your appliances could be monitored through the Web pad," says Milgroom. "It would be in essence, a master control panel."
Technology might allow for inventory management of what's in your refrigerator. It would monitor, either through barcodes or other means, what is going in and out, and compile a grocery list based on what is needed. That, in turn, might be transmitted to an e-grocer. With small cameras becoming more inexpensive, a home security or monitoring system could be set up so you could see what your children are doing in the other room by using the Web pad while you make dinner.
"It's all about saving time," says Milgroom. "This is time that can be reinvested into the quality of life for your family." How to reach: Turbochef, www.turbochef.com
Todd Shryock (firstname.lastname@example.org) is SBN's special reports editor.