Cooking dinner from the road

After 12 years of development and with the help of NASA's Embedded Web Technology software, the TMIO company is delivering its first smart ovens. For example, you can adjust and control the oven settings from your cell phone and be sure that dinner is ready when you get home.

After 12 years of development and with the help of NASA's Embedded Web Technology software, the TMIO company is delivering its first smart ovens. You can monitor these refrigerator-ovens from any Internet connection. For example, you can adjust and control the oven settings from your cell phone and be sure that dinner is ready when you get home. But cooking from your office or your car won't come cheap: these ovens carry a price tag of $8,699. Right now, they're only available in North America, but I bet there soon will be distributors in other parts of the world.

Here is how NASA's Spinoff tells us the story behind these smart ovens.

In 1994, David Mansbery was a busy father with an active family whose schedule rarely allowed for home-cooked meals. Growing tired of fast food, he was determined to bring the cooking back into his kitchen. He decided to create an oven that would allow its owners to cook dinner from the road.

So he asked for help one of his biggest clients at this time, NASA's Glenn Research Center, which provided its Embedded Web Technology software, also used by astronauts to operate experiments from anywhere on the international space station using a laptop computer.

With authorization to use the Embedded Web Technology, Mansbery formed the TMIO company to develop the Connect Io Intelligent Oven. Applying the same remote command and control concepts that NASA uses to run experiments on the space station, this oven allows its owners to cook dinner from the road using a cell phone, personal digital assistant or any Internet connection.

Below is a picture of a Connect Io Intelligent Oven made by the Tonight's Menu Intelligent Ovens (TMIO) company. (Credit: TMIO)

TMIO's Connect Io Intelligent Oven

Here is how these smart ovens work.

Before leaving for work, consumers can place fresh food in Connect Io, where it will remain refrigerated until a programmable cooking cycle begins. Users simply enter the dinner time, and the oven automatically switches from refrigeration to the cooking cycle, so the meal will be ready when they get home.
Should plans change, the embedded software enables the user to adjust and control the oven settings using a cell phone, personal digital assistant, laptop or any device with a Web browser.

In "Dinner's A Phone Call Away" (free registration needed), the Washington Post adds some financial information.

After more than $10 million and 12 years in development at the TMIO company, the first 200ConnectIo Intelligent Ovens were shipped to distributors this week from a Chattanooga, Tenn., factory. It's a cutting-edge product that hopes to jump-start that beleaguered rite of family life: mealtime.
At $8,699, Internet-linked ovens will make their way into luxury developments long before the technology reaches Best Buy. But the central idea -- that supper should be ready when you are -- is so compelling that only a cavalier manufacturer would ignore its pursuit.

This article also tells us how Mansbery is using his new oven.

Over the cell phone he uses to start chicken roasting at home, Mansbery made remote-control cuisine sound as easy as punching "S" for souffle. There's no complex instruction manual. The oven uses "embedded Web technology" developed for space shuttles, but home chefs don't need degrees in rocket science. They simply prepare the food and put it in the refrigerator-oven to chill. After logging on to a Web site and giving a PIN code, they instruct the oven when to start and how long to cook.

Right now, this oven looks expensive, but I'm sure that prices will go down when the production increases.

Sources: NASA's Spinoff Office, January 25, 2006; Linda Hales, The Washington Post, January 14, 2006; and various web sites

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