Now this is a cool internet of things use case: You're wondering what to do for dinner, and it's already 4 p.m. No worries; you simply open your smartphone and click on an app that shows you via live video what's inside your refrigerator. The app indicates that you have chicken (it also tells you the weight), potatoes, carrots and celery enough for a main dinner course for three. The app then suggests a few recipes from which to choose, and you're off and running by the time you get home a couple hours later.
That's merely one scenario; inventors are discovering myriad other possibilities using new-gen IoT tech. Eventually, we'll be able to using smart ovens and mobile apps to cook food that will be ready for us when we arrive.
Redwood City, Calf.-based food tech specialist Innit is already way ahead of the curve in this high-potential new IT sector. The 2-year-old startup is not only connecting smart devices in the home kitchens with mobile devices but also will soon become a major resource on nutrition.
The company made news Feb. 23 when it acquired San Carlos, Calif.-based ShopWell Labs, Inc., a personalized food-discovery application. Terms of the transaction were not revealed by Innit.
Popular Free App Has Had 2.5 Million Downloads
ShopWell's free mobile app, a popular one that has been downloaded from the App Store and Google Play sites more than 2.5 million times, provides consumers with personalized nutrition recommendations, allergy alerts and detailed ingredient analysis for a wide variety of foods.
Consumers can now scan a product label closely, search a database of more than 400,000 products or connect their store loyalty card to automatically track food purchases and receive curated recommendations. Smart location-based services also can connect ShopWell to a user's preferred retailer and home environments.
"ShopWell is well known as one of the leading personalized nutrition and shopping mobile apps," Innit CEO Kevin Brown told eWEEK. "They have a rich database that helps people compare products or map them to their personal health goals. It's a great resource for people who have allergies, dietary restrictions or health issues. You have to have kind of a GPS, if you will, to navigate foods and get alerts if there are issues.
"We've been tracking them for three years, and they've done a ton of work to build integrations into retail, to build the product database for personalized nutrition. What we want to do is integrate that so it not only helps you with your shopping, but take it all the way into the smart kitchen."
Optimizing Nutrition, Food Planning
Innit then takes it from there, helping users with how optimize every step of the way to plan, shop, prep and cook in a healthy way--and on any day that you need help.
"No one else has done that. We now can help bring you through that food journey," Brown said. "A lot of people are kind of lost when they think: What do I have? How do I cook it? Is it right for me? Basically all those steps can be tricky. It's like I know how to drive to San Francisco because I live in the Bay Area, but I still turn on Waze to help me get there."
ShopWell services will continue to operate as usual and ultimately will be integrated into the Innit connected food platform, which is scheduled to launch later in 2017. eWEEK will publish a deep-dive article later this year on the platform.
The combined solution will empower consumers with advanced, personalized features spanning the entire food lifecycle, from meal planning, shopping and preparation, to automated cooking on smart appliances, Brown said.
Based on the combined platform, Innit will offer connected food retail API services to provide personalized nutrition and cooking information to retailers and food brands that wish to enhance their consumer experience.
Innit Connecting Retail to the Smart Home
Many sectors already have been transformed using digital platforms, including automotive, music, photography and commerce, but the $21.5 trillion global food and beverage industry has lagged behind, according to industry researcher Frost & Sullivan. However, the IoT, advanced sensors and machine learning are driving a wave of digital innovation in the nutrition market, enabling key advances in food safety, freshness and flavor, sustainability, health and wellness and consumer food preparation.
For food retailers, the pace of change has accelerated with trends such as mobile device usage in stores, meal kits, on-demand delivery and automated replenishment cycles in the home. Retailers are increasingly using digital initiatives to keep up with shifting consumer behaviors and expectations, Brown said.
ShopWell has become a trusted partner for retailers that want to help customers align purchases with their health and nutrition goals and preferences. Now, with Innit's advanced retail API services, retailers can enhance the consumer experience at the store shelf, within the home and throughout the entire cooking process.
ShopWell is available for iOS and Android. To learn more about ShopWell, go here.