Meet June, the Toaster Oven That Thinks It's a Computer

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June toaster oven
That's one fancy toaster oven. (Photo: June)

There are a whole bunch of things that people used to learn from mom and dad, like driving a stick shift or cooking a meal. But in this modern world, you don’t have to do that anymore; there’s the automatic transmission and the self-driving car coming down the road, and now there’s June to do your cooking. The recipe for this toaster oven with brains: Take a dash of Nvidia 2.3 GHZ computer processing power, mix in an HD camera to watch what’s cooking, carbon fiber heating elements that get hot in five seconds, stir in WiFi and a 5-inch touchscreen and a digital scale. Assemble and sell for $1,500.

It has been cooked up by engineers out of Apple, GoPro and Google who say it's “a computer-based oven that thinks like a chef.” It uses that camera to figure out what you have put in it, the scale to figure out how much, the probe to monitor the temperature inside the food and the computer to manage it all and talk to your phone.

using june the smart toaster oven to cook
This is how you use . June

I mean, cooking can be tough. Take a steak. Co-founder Matt Van Horn tells Tech Crunch:

You take the steak, put salt and pepper on it, put in the core temperature thermometer, plug [the thermometer] into the oven and keep the steak in the oven, and by the time the door is closed, it’s smart enough to know that it’s a steak. It knows how much it weighs and its starting core temperature. Depending on your preference, it can predict a time curve that leads it into the medium rare, and it sends my phone a push notification when it’s done. If you’re anxious, you can use a streaming feature which allows you to get a live video feed of your food.”

And all I have is a thumb to press on a steak to check its firmness, not nearly as sophisticated or accurate. I don’t think steak was the best example to use. It apparently makes delicious chocolate chip cookies, but so does my daughter. There must be more, and indeed there is; according to David Pierce in Wired:

They're also working on a companion app full of what they call "smart recipes," which use handy videos and GIFs to show you the difference between "combine" and "mix," or what the hell it means to julienne something. The June oven, then, is something like a Cooking 101 class taught by a beautiful robot.

Who would need such a thing? I happen to be married to a woman who wrote about cooking for TreeHugger and MNN and has shelves of cookbooks to refer to. I can hear her eyes rolling. But a lot of people do not have such skills and don’t want to just order in. Cooking can be intimidating and hard, and anything that makes it easier and keeps you from burning your toast is worth thinking about.

As for its small size that many are complaining about, I think that’s a feature, not a bug; as co-founder Nikhil Bhogal tells Gizmodo, "This is our bet that urban spaces will get more compact." That’s where the young people with the least cooking experience, the smallest apartments and the greatest attachment to our internet-connected world are. I suspect that the big range with oven is on its way out, and small, moveable and storable appliances will take over; look what TreeHugger founder Graham Hill did in his kitchen with portable induction hobs. Perhaps our future kitchens will all have smart, small internet-connected appliances instead of the big clunkers that take up so much space.