Innovative Consumer Appliances – Consumer Proximate Production
May 18, 2020
10 min readAdd to Favourite
May 18, 2020
10 min readAdd to Favourite
Food equipment and machinery have been an essential part of the food industry, be it restaurant chains, café, or food processors. Tools or appliances have reformed with time, place, and conditions. Presently, with the high demand for processed food products, there is a requirement for technologically advanced equipment, which can be installed or used with ease and provides at-home convenience to individuals. The most important aspect of this equipment includes efficiency, cost, space-saving, innovation, and multi-functionality.
As depicted in Exhibit 1, these new innovative appliances depend on the latest technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML), which ensure quality, safety, and hygiene. Such advanced equipment help overcome consumer challenges, such as storage, longer cooking duration, and transportation.
The busy lifestyle of consumers has a direct impact on their food habits. Cooking options are continuously changing; several research studies have stated that adults perceive time constraints on healthy dietary behaviors. Similarly, people are turning towards meal options instead of home-cooked meals. This shift in paradigm has paved the way for innovative equipment that resolves various issues. For instance, by connecting smart pantries, stoves, and refrigerators to mobile devices, companies are able to help customers improve food selection and promote healthier lifestyles.
Processing, preservation, and cooking are the three broad categories that are being focused by a majority of players in the domain of innovative and convenient appliances.
Key Feature: Can be connected to the smartphone and helps to attain nutrition goals
Key Feature: Simple to use, can be connected to any pot, and cost-effective
Key Feature: Customers can control temperature and cook time from anywhere via the WeMo app
Key Feature: Versatile, multi-functional, and space-saving
Key Feature: Eco-friendly, cost-effective, and easy-to-use
Key Features: Space-saving, convenient, and portable
Key Features: Portable, eco-friendly, and energy saving
With the rise in demand for consumer-friendly products, established players are actively launching equipment to improve food processing or preservation. Several entrepreneurs are also entering this field with new ideas and approaches.
A. Mitticool – A cost-efficient, energy-saving refrigerator
Challenge in the industry: To design a low-cost cooling device for developing geographies
Solution: Mitticool was invented by Mansukhbhai with the intent to provide a cost-effective solution for avoiding food spoilage.
It acts as a clay-based refrigerator that can store vegetables and fruits as well as cool water. Mitticool was designed to cool products naturally without electricity or any other artificial form of energy.
The product received multiple innovation awards, such as National Award for Most Innovative Products by the Indian Ministry of Rural Development, True Scientist Award during the 4th National Award Function, Delhi, and Net Geo Eco-Hero Award by National Geographic Channel, New Delhi.
Mitticool generated a great buzz and received recognition worldwide. A small company, Mitticool, was established to produce this clay-based refrigerator as well as other products, such as clay non-stick pans, glasses, bottles, and pots.
Mitticool products are exported to the UK, Africa, and Nairobi, and the company is also looking to set up a manufacturing unit in Africa.
B. Digital Appliances – A modern innovation to provide ease-of-use
Challenge in the industry: To design multifunctional, interactive appliances that save time and are convenient and digitalized.
Solution: Interactive pantries with smart shelves, digitally operated crock pots, and smart blenders were developed. These pantries consist of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth operated equipment that can be managed and monitored via smartphone applications. Several supermarkets include smart shelves that consist of RFID tags, which can determine the item count and the number of items that need to be purchased.
Players such as LG and Whirlpool are working on smart refrigerators that can connect to the oven to set the right temperature and cook time for the meal.
Players are also working on smart jars equipped with scanners that alert when food gets spoiled and should be disposed of.
Many smart appliances, such as WeMo Enabled Crock-pot and BaroCook Flameless Cooker, help customers improve food selection, and promote health-conscious lifestyles.
Many innovative consumer appliances are still in the pipeline phase. Some examples are listed in the Exhibit 4 below:
Set to Mimic: The device comprises a glass, a plate, and a microchip. The transparent gel patch with a microchip is placed on the head, while the plate and the glass can communicate wirelessly with the brain, to re-create any taste or smell from experience by tapping into the person’s memory. The product could be used to promote healthy food habits, and it would be boon for diabetic people and also the ones suffering from food allergies.
Portable induction: Inductive intelligence has produced portable inductions or base units, which identify the packaging material of food products and sends the appropriate amount of energy required to heat the contents. The products are still in the pipeline phase and are not marketed yet.
Eco-Cleaner: It is a portable dishwasher concept that utilizes ultrasonic waves to ionize food particles on the dishes and converts the food/grease to reusable compost for plants.
Biorobot Refrigerator: It is a concept that utilizes a special gel-like substance that suspends and cools food, once inserted. The device can be mounted on a wall and does not have a motor; the non-sticky gel does all the work and has no odor. The design of the device draws heat energy from the surrounding air and converts it to cool the contents contained. It also has microscopic robots embedded in the device that identify the necessary temperatures for each item being stored and adjust local heat and cold accordingly.
These state-of-the-art appliances ensure ease-of-use and convenience and save time.
Other established players such as LG and Whirlpool are also launching smart products (ovens and refrigerators), which can be connected to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and have an app to control cooking time and temperature.
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