Robotic butlers that can cook dinner for the family won't exist anytime soon. But that doesn't mean technologists aren't aiming to help out in the kitchen. A swath of companies, from appliance giants to gadgets startups, are fielding devices that help prepare meals and shop for groceries so families can eat more healthily. Here's a look at some of the most promising devices so far:
Keep you stocked
1 A MAGIC BUTTON FOR REORDERING GROCERIES
Amazon wants to make replenishing staples as simple as pressing a button, preferably its Dash Button. You can reorder specific items that are available via the company's Prime service with one press. Amazon sells a variety of Buttons priced at $4.99 each for replenishing items like Goldfish crackers and Ziploc bags.
2 REFRIGERATORS THAT SHOP FOR YOU
Samsung and LG want the refrigerator to be more than just mere storage. Samsung's Family Hub ($3,499) and LG's Smart InstaView (price TBD) refrigerators aim to make it easier to order groceries and find recipes. Those using Family Hub can order from a grocery store through the Groceries by MasterCard app. LG, meanwhile, employs Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant to reorder items or search for recipes with your voice.
3 THE CAMERA THAT LETS YOU PEEK INSIDE
You don't need to buy an Internet-connected refrigerator to get some of the benefits of a smart appliance. The Smarter FridgeCam ($99.99) is a wireless camera that allows you to see the contents of your refrigerator and track expiration dates from an app. You can also receive recipe suggestions based on the ingredients you currently have.
Help you cook
4 AN OVEN THAT COOKS FOR YOU
If you're attempting to cook a rare steak for the first time, you may not know exactly how long to leave it in the oven or at which temperature to cook it. The June Intelligent Oven ($1,495) aims to help. Using a built-in camera, weight sensors, a thermometer and artificial intelligence, it can automatically identify certain foods and determine how they should be cooked. Just slide the cut into the oven and June will handle the rest, reminding you when to flip it. So far it can identify chicken, bacon, salmon, waffles and chocolate-chip cookies, among other foods.
5 THE (MUCH) SMARTER BAKING SCALE
Baking requires precision. Adding too much of any one ingredient will ruin a dish. Smart baking scales like the Perfect Bake ($72) and Drop ($79.95) aim to prevent culinary disasters. Both pair with an app that can tell you when you've poured enough flour or sugar. Perfect Bake's app can help you find recipes based on the foods and seasonings in your pantry, while Drop's can tell you how to substitute ingredients you don't have.
6 DIGITAL HELPERS THAT RECITE RECIPES
Reaching for your smartphone or tablet when your hands are covered in cookie dough is never ideal. Internet-connected speakers Amazon Echo ($179.99) and Google Home ($129) can read recipes aloud or set a timer. Both can pull recipes from sources such as Allrecipes and Food Network.
Keep you healthy
7 A FORK THAT HELPS SLOW YOU DOWN
The HAPIfork ($79) aims to help you lose weight by preventing you from eating too fast. The utensil will vibrate and light up to indicate when you're consuming food too quickly and can measure the total amount of time it took to eat your meal. But the benefits may be questionable: while there is some evidence suggesting that eating slowly helps to maximize fullness after meals, one study found that using a vibrating fork to eat slower didn't lead to feeling full or a significant reduction in the amount of food consumed.
8 THE PLATE THAT HELPS WITH PORTION SIZE
Counting calories and manually logging meals can be cumbersome, which is why the SmartPlate TopView ($79) attempts to take care of these steps for you. The plate works with a scale and an app, identifying food to help diners portion their meals and keep a well-balanced diet.
9 A CUP THAT KEEPS YOU HYDRATED
The Pryme Vessyl ($99) smart cup aims to prevent dehydration--which can lead to a range a detrimental health effects--by tracking daily water consumption. A meter on the cup lights up to indicate your hydration level, and its companion app makes it possible to monitor intake throughout the day. It also integrates with Apple's Health app for iPhone so that you can plug in data about your water consumption alongside other fitness metrics.