While the Tovala has always been the most affordable of the new smart countertop ovens, the fact that it was tied to a meal subscription plan always made it feel constricting. The second-gen Tovala added more flexibility to the device itself, but it still seemed optimized primarily for making Tovala food. Yesterday, Tovala took another step towards broadening its capabilities by adding a new scan-to-cook feature (h/t to CNET).
Tovala’s “Scan the Store” works as you’d imagine. Buy a packaged item from the grocery store, scan the barcode on the item with the Tovala and the smart oven cooks the food automatically (no pre-heating required). Right now, the feature only works with Trader Joe’s frozen foods, though the company says it will be adding new brand partnerships (read: more grocers, more products).
Scan the Store puts Tovala at the center of two trends emerging in the smart kitchen space. First, barcode scanning to generate cook programs is being used by other appliances like the Alexa powered GE Scan-to-Cook microwave. The benefit being a more precise cook program tailored for each food rather than blasting everything with full power.
But like the June oven, Tovala is now setting itself up as a platform with brand partnerships. Last fall June added a Whole Foods button to its touchscreen menu for automated cook programs from that grocer. Tovala too will add more food from more grocers making it even more useful.
What the Scan the Store feature does most, however, is make the Tovala a more attractive device among the new wave of smart ovens. At $349, it’s cheaper than the June ($599), and the Brava ($995), and now those who buy it are now getting a more versatile appliance.