Whirlpool’s new smart oven concept uses augmented reality to show you where to place your croissants and pizza. It’s called the Whirlpool Connected Hub Wall Oven, and the AR aspect makes it a little bit unique within the smart oven category.
The oven has a 27-inch transparent LCD display on its front door, which you can use to pull up recipes. Once you select a recipe, the screen will tell you to gather the necessary ingredients and then display where to place food on the racks. In the demo I got to see, the oven suggested placing salmon on a top rack and asparagus on the bottom so that both items would be well-cooked at the same time.
AR comes into play in a couple of ways here, although it doesn’t look as impressive as it sounds. You’re able to see how the meal should look when it’s finished cooking; so in my example, a floating salmon dish would hover on the front door before disappearing. And you can also see visualizations of where to place the trays. As someone who had to learn through trial and error to put the spinach puffs up top and the pizza on the lower rack, I would definitely find this feature useful.
This is what the interface looks like. On the display, these colors don’t show up very well.
While everything’s cooking, an internal camera allows you to check up on your food and even zoom in for a better look. It’s a convenient way to see if your crust is golden brown but not yet burnt without opening your oven door, which might affect the bake.
Unfortunately, Whirlpool’s transparent screen doesn’t look great. The salmon looked grayish on the screen, and WLabs, the Whirlpool incubator behind the oven, said that because the display is transparent, it couldn’t be designed with a higher pixel density or more vibrant colors.
Because it’s just a concept, there’s no release date or even a rough estimate of availability for the oven. And WLabs says it will likely take a lot of further iterations and feedback from users before it reaches a final version.
For the time being, there are plenty of other smart oven options out there that are trying to simplify the baking process, including another option from WLabs, which is going on sale later this year.