Smart kitchens are a new phase in the Internet of Things, as Innit explains

Rohini Nambiar | News Assistant
A sensor is mounted in a refrigerator optimized with Innit technology at the Pirch home design store in New York, U.S.
Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

There's no time for grocery shopping, the pantry contains some random tins and dinner inspiration is a long way away. There's now software to fix that.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has taken hold of the kitchen, thanks to start-ups such as Silicon Valley-based Innit, which has created a cloud-based "kitchen platform" that connects to smart kitchen appliances in order to tell the user what to cook. Really.

Products in the refrigerator are recognized by cameras with image recognition software, which can send the information to either a smart oven so the oven can regulate the temperature and timing to cook the food, or to third-party recipe programs that generate recipes based on the available ingredients. The process can be controlled by the user through an app.

Innit CEO Kevin Brown told CNBC's "The Rundown" that bringing smart devices into the kitchen was a natural progression for the IoT.

"Consumers are using their smart phones and tablets and smart appliances in every walk of life - their cars now have screens in them, everything is now starting to get more connected - so it's a pretty natural transition to then start doing that in the kitchen," he said.

This firm wants to bring IoT into cooking
This firm wants to bring IoT into cooking

Brown said that as well as being more convenient, a smart kitchen could help address the issue of food waste. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year, equivalent to about a third of all food produced for human consumption - squandering vital resources such as land, energy and water.

The Innit CEO explained that as well as helping consumers make the best use of the food they have by connecting it to the right appliance, his software could help users keep track of which foods were closest to spoiling.

Innit has partnered with brands including Good Housekeeping, which supplies recipes to be used with Innit's software, home retailer Pirch and appliance-maker Whirpool. Innit's software will be available on Whirpool's Jenn-Air connected ovens later this year.

The Californian start-up recently raised $18 million in funding, bringing its total funding from private investors to $43 million.

In Asia, start-ups are working along similar lines.

Singapore's Intraix will soon launch a "smart hub" device designed to allow users to remotely control all their at-home smart devices on a single platform.

The four-year-old company was set up by university mates, 32-year-old Darrell Zhang and 34-year old Bryan Lee, who originally focused on providing consumers with real-time insights on energy consumption data. They have since expanded to smart home solutions with their Project Klug, which they describe as an infrastructure of smart sensors and hubs.

Part of Project Klug is Klug Home, a USB dongle that turns a standard router into a smart hub by connecting various smart devices, allowing the devices to be controlled through a single mobile application.

For example, information from a sleep-tracking wearable device can alert the Klug app that the user is awake, which sends information for the lights to be switched on and for the coffee machine to start brewing.

Latest in IoT: Smart energy solutions
Latest in IoT: Smart energy solutions

According to Intraix, Klug Home uses Wi-Fi, Apple HomeKit and Google Now to create its smart network, and is compatible with devices including Amazon Echo, Nest, Philips Hue lights, Fitbit and JawBone, among others.

The company is also due to launch Klug Air, a smart thermostat that will allow users to control their air-conditioning through a mobile app. The Klug Air can also use sensor technology to automatically regulate air-conditioner settings based on the environmental and user patterns.

For example, if a user habitually switches off their air-conditioner at a certain time every day, the Klug Air will learn to automatically switch off the device without a prompt from the user subsequently.

Intraix currently sells the Klug Home and Klug Air devices for $109 each and is taking pre-orders, with a view to shipping the products in the fourth quarter.

Intraix also has a partnership with Singapore's Housing Development Board and the city-state's Information Development Board (IDA) to trial a Smart Home Management system in a local housing estate.

The start-up won investment from Stream Global, a Singapore-based venture capital firm that runs in collaboration with Singapore's National Research Foundation, in its most recent funding round.

The potential for smart homes is immense; IDC Energy Insights projects that spending on "smart building technology" will reach $17.4 billion in 2019.

Intraix's Zhang told CNBC that he saw great opportunities in Asia Pacific markets such as Australia and Japan. He said the Singapore market was still in its "infancy," but had big potential to expand as the government pursued its Smart Nation program of increasing country-wide connectivity.

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