Spring is in the air, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. The temperatures have warmed; the snow has melted; flowers are blooming; and the smell of beef sizzling outdoors is once again teasing our noses. For many enthusiasts, grilling is as much a relaxing pastime as it is a household chore, but for those that might view it more as the latter, one grill manufacturer is planning an easier future. The voice-activated design of the Lynx Smart Grill lets you do more grilling from the comfort of your deck chair.
The proud grill master would like you to think that every single piece of animal or plant matter ever heated to proper eating temperature on his or her outdoor range was a guide book-ready example of delectably flavored and charred gourmet perfection. The truth is, even the most seasoned grill expert has spent some time practicing and experimenting. The fruits of that experimentation undoubtedly fell well south of perfection and some may have even earned a quick spot in the local landfill.
The Smart Grill, which Lynx previewed at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, uses modern technology to cut the learning curve out of grilling. One of the latest members of the Internet of Things, the connected grill taps into an online database of grilling information. Its MyChef voice-activated interface asks the grill handler a couple of questions about what will be cooked, then pulls detailed instructions from the database, right down to the optimal part of the grill to place the food.
The voice-controlled, fly-by-wire system automates key processes like firing up the burners. All the human griller has to do is tell the Smart Grill the information and perform physical aspects of grilling, like seasoning the meat, putting it on the heated grill and turning it. The grill provides timing prompts via audio, visual and/or text message cues, so the griller can invest time and attention into doing something else – say enjoying a pre-meal cocktail – without worrying about overcooking the meal. A smartphone app keeps him or her connected to the grilling process, and the grill includes an automatic safety shut-off.
Of course, the masterful grill expert doesn't want to rely on some online database filled with other grillers' recipes. He's invested far too much time perfecting his craft to go back to square one. The Smart Grill includes a "learning module" for these types, allowing its data to be updated to reflect the owner's preferences.
Now, all Lynx has to do is add an automated food-rotating system so that the griller can throw the food on and forget about it until he receives that mouth-watering "done" text message.
Grillers will have to continue to be self reliant this spring and summer because the Smart Grill is still just a prototype. Lynx plans to get it to market in 2015. It hasn't estimated the price, but it does admit that the stainless steel Smart Grill will come at a "slight premium." Lynx already makes some of the more expensive products on the grill market, with freestanding grill prices starting at US$3,799, so the Smart Grill is likely to appeal only to a small segment of the grilling population.
A more affordable alternative can be found in one of many wireless grill thermometers and apps, like the CyberQ Wi-Fi or BBiQ. Those that like the idea of blending technology with cooking over hot coals and gas may also be interested in this season's best BBQ gadgets.