The world’s biggest technology exhibition, The International Consumer Electronics Show – better known as CES – is underway this week in Las Vegas. More than 4,000 companies showcased and launched new products in technologies at last year’s event, and this year shows no signs up slowing down, despite a torrential downpour on Tuesday that gridlocked confused Vegas visitors who most certainly didn’t pack an umbrella or rain coat.
While Apple and Facebook typically eschew CES in favor of their own events, their tech titan rivals Amazon and Google often make a good showing. And thanks to their respective Alexa and Google Home platforms, plenty of internet-of-things connected devices are popping up this year. From Alexa-enabled microwaves to $1,000 futuristic wine openers, here is the top food and booze tech making waves this year.
“Scan anything. Scan anywhere.” Fairly unimpressive advice, right? This spectroscopic device begs to differ. With just a Wi-Fi signal and a charge from a USB port, this 2oz scanner can tell parents or professional chefs alike whether a piece of poultry is carrying foodborne illnesses like E. coli or Salmonella or whether a dish at a restaurant was prepared with life-threatening allergens.
The 2016 version that debuted at CES was cutting edge technology in its own right, capable of discerning between genuine and faux leather, or telling the user if a particular protein was fish. But the 2018 version takes the analytical capabilities to the next level, and can now pinpoint which fish species is being scanned. LinkSquare’s scanner could even be the magic wand the global seafood industry uses to stamp out counterfeit fish – a bigger problem than you could possibly imagine. By some estimates, half of all sushi served in restaurants is actually completely different fish than what consumers, or even skilled sushi chefs, believe it to be. LinkSquare use at the enterprise and regulatory level could end that practice by 2019.
The hottest thing happening in the world of wine is futuristic bottle opener Coravin’s latest gadget. The company is hoping that consumers will line up to buy a wine bottle opener that doesn’t actually uncork the bottle at all. Instead, Model 11 pierces the cork with a thin needle and replaces the empty space created by the stream of wine pouring out with argon gas, perfectly preserving the vintage.
Can you put a price on preventing wine from ever spoiling before you’ve had a chance to enjoy the whole bottle? Well Coravin believes you can, and it believes that price is a monster $999. While you might not be willing to spend a grand to prevent your $8 bottles of Trader Joe’s finest from spoiling, consider the implications of a wine bar suddenly being able to serve 50-year-old reserves by the glass. Expect this to become a fine-dining fixture when it hits the market later this year.
Voice-activated kitchen appliances have largely felt like more of a matter of who and when than if, ever since Amazon set the bar with the Alexa and Echo. This week we found out the answers to those: Whirlpool, and right now.
By integrating Alexa and recipe app Yummly, Whirlpool’s newest oven will talk you through the steps of meal preparation, preheat itself, and turn itself off after you’ve finished. You can even take a photo of the contents of your refrigerator (or lack thereof) and Yummly will create recipe options for you based on what you’ve got. The oven will require a Wi-Fi connection to make full use of its smarter capabilities, though you’ll still be able to cook the old-fashioned way should you lose internet come dinnertime.
If that all sounds exciting to you, understand that it’s going to cost you. Whirlpool’s Alexa-enabled oven will go on sale sometime in spring for $1,949. Less of a home chef, but still have plenty of cash to spare? A similarly empowered microwave will retail for $819.
No longer will cocktail aficionados ever have to settle for a watered down tail end of their drink. Inventor Jason Sherman’s countertop freezer cools to such a low temperature that it is possible to freeze alcohol. The bourbon slurpees, vodka popsicles and gin granitas of your dreams are all bursting into reality this year.
The fancy freezer costs $5,000, making it one of the most expensive additions to any cocktail bar’s toolbox. The potential for creativity might just redeem the cost of owning one though. Progressive cocktails, drinks that are served as one thing, but melt into something completely different, could be the next big thing in mixology.
The fatal flaw with calorie counting and tracking smartphone apps – or food journals, if that’s more your style – has thus far been the disconnect between what you think your food is, and what it actually is. While it’s helpful to know that a 3oz portion of protein is the size of a deck of cards, how often do you actually prepare yourself a deck-of-cards-sized meal? Those troubles spiral further out of control when eating out. Your best guess is usually far off the mark.
Samsung, of all companies, may have finally cracked the code on dieting and portion control. The electronics company unveiled a beefier version of its Bixby virtual assistant this week capable of accurately counting calories and nutritional content by just taking a photo of your food. Crowdsourcing of meal photos will further help to refine the accuracy, so you have an excuse to ‘gram those meals after all. The company says the technology is still in its nascent phase, and won’t be coming to Galaxy smartphones just yet. But this revolutionary technology will eventually help millions of people better understand both their food and their bodies.