One thing I miss most about heading to Vegas every January for CES is walking the basement of the Sands convention center. There, in the startup area known as Eureka Park, I’ll wander for hours and get lost amongst thousands of exhibitors in search of a few undiscovered food tech gems.
I usually find a few and, since we’re talking CES, they sometimes come in the form of a food robot.
From there, I usually head across the street to Treasure Island where The Spoon has its own product showcase during CES week called Food Tech Live, where I can also get my fill of food robots while also doing such things as eating a cookie with my face on it.
While both CES and Food Tech Live didn’t take place in person in Sin City this year, that doesn’t mean there weren’t some cool food robots to check out at their virtual versions last week. Below is our roundup of home food robots I found at virtual CES and The Spoon’s annual first-of-the-year product showcase, Food Tech Live.
Moley Robotic Kitchen
Since 2015, the Moley robotic kitchen has captured the imagination of the tech journalists and robotics industry with its robot chef concept that can that can prepare full meals from prep to cook to clean up with a pair of articulating robot arms.
And while we’ve yet to actually see the Moley cook a full meal from start to finish, the system’s inventor told The Spoon that it’s finally on sale and will find its first home in 2021. The company, which had a virtual booth at CES 2021 and debuted a bunch of new highlight videos, will sell both a home and pro version of its robotic kitchen. Prices for the fully robotic kitchen will be about $335 thousand.
Else Labs Oliver is a single-pot cooking robot that dispenses fresh ingredients and automates the cooking process with the help of temperature sensing and machine vision capabilities.
Else Labs, which went on sale via Indiegogo last fall, was on display at Food Tech Live last week. The product’s inventor and company CEO Khalid Aboujassoum says the major difference between Oliver and other guided cooking appliances on the market is Oliver pretty much handles the entire cooking process for you.
“The Oliver can do unattended stovetop cooking,” Aboujassoum told me last fall when the product went on sale.
The iWonderCook is a automated cooking machine that cooks one-pot meals. The meals are provided in the form of the company’s own meal kit service, which the user orders through the device’s touchscreen. From there, as can be seen in the video below, the user inserts a bowl, embeds the food “cartridge”, and then adjusts the amount of oil and water needed.
I haven’t gotten a chance to see the iWondercook in action or taste the food, I will say is the product’s reliance on its own meal kits might be a turn-off for some users.
Yo-Kai Express Takumi
Technically the new Yo-Kai Express Takumi home ramen machine is something closer to a Keurig for food than a food robot, it’s worth looking at this machine given the company’s smart vending roots.
The Takumi, which debuted at Food Tech Live last week, follows Yo-Kai’s move into the home market with its home delivery service. The Takumi takes the frozen ramen bowls, which are centrally produced in Yo-Kai’s California facilities, and steams and reconstitutes the ramen in just a few minutes.
The company has plans to not only to start selling ramen to users in the office and home, but on the go with an autonomous ramen delivery cart.
Samsung Bot Handy
Samsung announced a trio of home robots aimed at helping humans around the house. The one that was most interesting when it comes to lending a hand in the kitchen was Bot Handy, a mobile bot with large articulating hand that can help with anything from pouring a glass of wine to doing the dishes.
It’s worth noting that Samsung -- like many big consumer electronics brands -- has a history of showing off cool new product prototypes at CES that are more conceptual than anything close to actually coming to market, including last year’s they showed off a Moley-kitchen style robot system. Let’s hope the Bot Handy is something the company delivers on.
The Julia is another single-pot home cooking robot that allows the user to set it and forget it for pretty much an entire meal. The Julia is made by a Nymble, an Indian-based startup with plans to start selling the product in 2021. Nymble CEO Raghav Gupta showed off the product at Food Tech Live, told us that they are expanding their alpha trial program in the United States in February.
Like the Takumi, the ColdSnap isn’t quite a full-fledged food robot, but something closer to a Bartesian style automated appliance that makes cold ice cream (as well as frozen margaritas and smoothies). While we weren’t able to get our hands on the ColdSnap, the company gave CNET a hands-on preview of the appliance and the editors were impressed. The appliance, which is going to a fairly spending $500-1,000, reminds me of the Wim fro-yo appliance that never made it to market after an acqui-hire of the founding by Walmart.