Imagine if you didn’t have to worry about how long something needed to cook at a certain temperature on the stove. Imagine, now, that an app controls everything — and you don’t even have to adjust the flame.
That’s precisely what Jon Jenkins has been working on, along with a few of his buddies from his days at Amazon. They’ve formed a new startup called Meld. And they’re launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of their initial products.
They’ve designed a stove knob that automatically moves to provide just the right amount of heat for just the right amount of time, and a clip to hang onto a piece of cookware and constantly check the temperature. The gadgets take input from the Meld app, for iOS and Android, which contains recipes that have been expressed in a format that the devices can understand.
Jenkins thinks the system could make home cooking more efficient.
“The bottom line is algorithms get to be pretty interesting, because if you’re trying to achieve a particular temperature, we want to get you there as quickly as possible, without overshooting,” said Jenkins, who was head of engineering at Pinterest before leaving to work at Meld as cofounder and chief executive.
These gizmos from Meld aren’t that hard to wrap your head around. Companies big and small have been introducing Internet-connected devices for consumers’ homes. There are connected refrigerators, locks, thermostats, toothbrushes — on and on it goes.
Stove knobs haven’t exactly been a battleground in the Internet of things. Even so, there is a Y Combinator-backed startup called Cinder that has designed an app-enabled appliance that can cook food perfectly. Jenkins can respect that — but he and his team didn’t want to take up much precious countertop space.
All the Meld system involves is the clip — with a thermometer, a 32-bit ARM-based chip packing a Bluetooth transmitter, and a AAA battery — and the knob, which has a motor, a couple of AAA batteries, and its own ARM chip featuring Bluetooth. The Meld knob can take the place of any of the normal knobs on your stove when you use Meld’s “shaft adapter.”
The system works well with both gas and electric ranges, Jenkins said. It can handle several types of cooking: poaching, frying, simmering, slow cooking, sous vide, and candy making. Later, Meld could add support for processes like grilling, baking, microwaving, and sauteing, Jenkins said.
The app, for its part, comes with hundreds of recipes, and it allows you to import your own. Oh, and if you don’t trust the Meld knob at any point, you can always turn it manually.
The first Meld sets will ship this fall, starting at $99. You can preorder them on Kickstarter or on the Meld website.
Seattle-based Meld hasn’t yet taken on any venture funding, said Jenkins, who founded the startup with Darren Vengroff, a onetime Amazon engineer who developed an app to determine sous vide cooking times. Others on the team include former Amazon employees Owen Hay and Mark Baumback and former Redfin employee Matt Goyer.
Here’s a video demonstrating the capabilities of the Meld knob, clip, and app: