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Whirlpool's New Oven Is Smart Enough to Be Your Sous Chef

LAS VEGAS — Which smart appliance will be the centerpiece of your kitchen? Samsung is angling towards the fridge with its Family Hub refrigerator, but Whirlpool seems to think the oven is the hottest spot. We took a look at a prototype of Whirlpool's Connected Hub Wall Oven, which uses a number of interesting technologies to make planning and cooking dinner less of a hassle.

The first thing you'll notice about the Connected Hub Wall Oven is its clear front, which lets you peer directly inside. However, the entire door is a transparent touchscreen which, when active, displays your daily schedule plus the time, the weather and more. After your select which meal you want to plan (breakfast, lunch or dinner), the oven will show a number of recipes curated from Yummly across the bottom of the display.

After you select a recipe and indicated at what time you want to actually sit down and eat, the oven will populate your calendar with entries for both prep and cook times so you can get a sense of when you need to start chopping veggies. It will also send a grocery list to your phone of the ingredients needed for the meal.

When it comes time to actually making dinner, the screen will guide you through the steps, which you can advance through by pressing a button on-screen or by using Alexa or Google Assistant. Then the oven will set itself to the correct temperature and even show you on which rack you need to place the food. It will even display a video of what the food should look like when it's done, so you know what to look for.

Also built into the oven are two cameras. Once you place a food item into the oven, the over will scan and identify it and adjust the temperature accordingly. I'd seen Yummly's app do this last year at CES, but it was cool to see it integrated into an appliance. I can imagine kids will put things into the oven just to see how well it can identify obscure produce and foodstuffs.

The cameras can also be used to monitor the progress of your meal remotely using an app on your smartphone. This would be handy if, say, you're roasting a chicken but don't want to miss a football game on TV, or if you have guests over and don't want to spend your entire time in the kitchen.

Whirlpool hasn't yet set a release date or pricing for the Connected Hub Wall Oven, but it will be at least a year before it hits the market. When it does, it won't be cheap. It will also be limited to those who have wall-oven enclosures, as it would be incredibly impractical to have to bend down and tap a screen.

The Whirlpool Connected Hub Wall Oven is probably not going to make it into a lot of consumers' homes, but as a demonstration of what technology can do in the kitchen, it is pretty ingenious.