PAI interface at IFA 2018 (image credit: Computer Bild TV)

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If you go to lots of trade shows like me, you know it takes time for innovation to make its way from the show floor into our living rooms.

We’ve all seen this with technologies like virtual reality and 3D food printing; only after years of development and iteration cycles do we get to the point where a product is ready for prime time.

And then there are technologies like projection interfaces that – up until now at least – seem like they’re stuck in development stasis. The idea of a projectable, anywhere surface interface has been discussed for close to a decade in the research and academic community and started showing up on trade show floors about five years ago. Despite this, the concept never seemed to go beyond an occasional product demo.

So last year I started to wonder why exactly the technology hadn’t reached consumers yet. After all, with the likes of Whirlpool, IKEA, and Bosch showing off jaw-dropping demos, it only made sense this technology would find its way to market at some point.

While there’s no clear answer, I narrowed it down to a couple of factors. First, the reality is the technology still needed some refinement to make it both consumer-ready and affordable. Second, appliance vendors often wait for big-tech to take the first leap, and from what I could tell none of the big-tech 5 (Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon) seemed particularly active with projection interfaces.

But now, it looks like one big company is committing to bringing a projection interface to market. BSH Appliances showed off a new product concept called PAI at IFA in Berlin this past week. PAI is a movable projector interface that is designed to go on a countertop in a kitchen.

I’m excited that BSH looks to be serious about bringing PAI to market. While some see voice as the dominant user interface of the future, abysmal usage rates of Alexa skills for commerce have shown us that voice in itself isn’t enough.  Consumers are visual, and most things we do in the kitchen are multimodal. Because of this, I believe the dynamic projection interface could a vibrant area in UI development over the next decade.

BSH Appliances wasn’t the only one to make news at IFA last week. Sharp showed up in Berlin with a fridge that featured a built-in vacuum sealer, prompting Chris Albrecht to wonder what exactly types of features he would want in his next fridge.

Smart kitchen platform startup Innit had a strong showing at IFA, popping up in a number appliance OEM booths, including that of a new partner in Arçelik.  The Turkish appliance conglomerate behind the Beko and Grundig brands showed off an Innit integration to power guided cooking as part of its HomeWhiz smart home platform.

It wasn’t all IFA this week. This week the Spoon scooped yet another Amazon patent in which the Seattle tech giant shows an innovative new method for delivery drones to generate power while in transit by harnessing both wind and kinetic energy.
After the news of a $30 million funding round for Farmer’s Fridge, I’m looking forward to a panel at Smart Kitchen Summit on the future of lunch. We’ll be discussing how new technologies, business models and delivery formats are all colliding to change what we eat every day, including at work.  You can read Chris’s piece on Farmer’s Fridge, a startup we’ve been covering for the past year.

Speaking of Smart Kitchen Summit, we’re less than five weeks away from our flagship show exploring the future of food and cooking. We have an amazing program planned, and not only will we have executives from big appliance brands like Whirlpool, GE and more, but we’ll also have startups from the smart kitchen, food robotics, restaurant tech, retail and more to discuss and showcase how each of these industries are changing to disrupt the consumer meal journey.  Make sure to get your tickets now and use the discount code NEWSLETTER (You can also use this link which has the code already applied).

That’s it for now. Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. Make sure to tune into this weekend’s episode of the Smart Kitchen Show podcast, where I have a great conversation with the CEO of the startup behind what is arguably the most successful consumer food robot ever made. You won’t want to miss it!

In the 09/06/2018 edition:

Ordermark Raises $9.5 Million for its Online Order Management Tools

By Chris Albrecht on Sep 06, 2018 10:23 am
Ordermark, a startup that helps restaurants unify and organize online orders, today announced that it has closed a $9.5 million Series A led by Nosara Capital. This brings the total amount raised by the company to $12.6 million.

Nima Peanut Sensor Now Available, Gluten Sensor Selling at Select CVS Stores

By Chris Albrecht on Sep 06, 2018 06:00 am
It’s back-to-school time, which means my son is once again eating lunches in a cafeteria. I doubt his school is unique, but it actually has separate tables for kids who bring in peanut butter sandwiches.

With its own Grocery Delivery Service, Walmart Grabs More Data

By Chris Albrecht on Sep 05, 2018 04:00 pm
Walmart is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to getting you your groceries. As of today, that includes testing out its own delivery service (h/t Food Dive). The retailing giant announced a pilot program for its new last-mile delivery service, dubbed Spark Delivery, which will deliver groceries directly to customers’ front door.

For Goodr’s Jasmine Crowe, Blockchain Is a Key Piece to the Food Waste Puzzle

By Catherine Lamb on Sep 05, 2018 02:00 pm
Food waste is generating quite a lot of interest as of late; but one buzzword that might give “food waste” a run for its money is blockchain.

Innit Adds Arçelik To Growing List of Appliance Partners

By Michael Wolf on Sep 05, 2018 12:00 pm
The smart kitchen was everywhere this year at IFA, Europe’s big appliance and tech expo, and one company that seemed to be on everyone’s dance card was Innit.

Farmer’s Fridge Stocks up with $30M

By Chris Albrecht on Sep 05, 2018 10:54 am
Farmer’s Fridge, the company which makes vending machines that dispense healthy meals such as salads and protein bowls, today announced that it has raised a new $30 million round of funding led by Innovation Endeavors. This brings the total amount raised by the company to $40 million.

Seltzer? Sous Vide? Smart Apps? What Cool Things do you Want in a Fridge?

By Chris Albrecht on Sep 05, 2018 07:33 am
For those old enough to remember, there is an episode from season two of The Simpsons where Homer designs a car for the average American. The result, as you can imagine was a hodge-podge monstrosity that featured bubble domes, three horns, shag carpeting and cost $82,000.

Bear Flag Robotics Raises $3.5 Million for Autonomous Tractor Tech

By Chris Albrecht on Sep 04, 2018 10:00 am
The common refrain from robotics companies is that they help with manual, repetitive tasks. And when you run a farm, there are plenty of manual, repetitive tasks, and Bear Flag Robotics raised $3.5 million seed funding right before the holiday weekend to help agricultural workers out with them.

Amazon Patent Points to In-Flight Recharging For Delivery Drones

By Michael Wolf on Sep 04, 2018 06:54 am
Ever since Jeff Bezos teased the idea of drone deliveries on 60 Minutes in 2013, the tech world has been abuzz with the idea. At the time Bezos said that the reality of drone deliveries wasn’t there yet, but he thought it just might be in 4-5 years.

FoodPlus Sells Surplus Food (in Slovenia) so it Doesn’t go to Waste

By Catherine Lamb on Sep 04, 2018 06:00 am
Based in Slovenia, FoodPlus began in 2015 when co-founder Dalibor Matijevic began searching for a way to cut down on food waste by redistributing surplus food. He developed a B2B platform for companies to buy and sell extra food at a super low cost — creating a new revenue stream and keeping food out of landfills.

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