Do You Really Need an AI-Powered Smart Range?

Illustration for article titled Do You Really Need an AI-Powered Smart Range?
Image: Samsung

As the pandemic has forced us to spend more time at home than we did previously, many of us have invested in making these spaces—which are now our offices, daycares, cafeterias, and entertainment hubs—a little more conducive to an always-home lifestyle. This has presented a unique opportunity for electronics makers, who’ve been making a killing since shelter-in-place orders started. Among these companies is Samsung, which today launched a new campaign highlighting some of its 2020 lineup of “smarter and more connected” home appliances, including its genius AI-powered oven range. But reader, I’ll ask you this: How smart is too smart?

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Samsung’s front control slide-in ranges, which start at $1,000, feature a Smart Dial that will learn your frequent and preferred settings and automatically suggest those settings from its front-facing menu. The wifi-connected ranges are linked to Samsung’s SmartThings App and are compatible with virtual assistants Alexa, Bixby, and Google, meaning they can be controlled without ever having to physically touch the range.

It’s Air Fry mode is really the perk of this unit, though. One less monstrous appliance taking up space on already cramped kitchen counters is what you’re really paying for here, particularly if you’re air frying often.

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Image: Samsung

These ranges build on an ever-growing lineup of always-on, hyper-connected devices like Samsung’s AI-powered laundry units or its Family Hub, a refrigerator so smart it can suggest recipes based on ingredients in your fridge and allow you to place grocery orders right from its on-unit touchscreen interface. All of these appliances are meant to work in tandem to create one seamless, effortless experience. And to be fair, who wouldn’t want a little help planning dinner or doing house chores?

But I appreciate some of the ritual that goes hand-in-hand with making a grocery list, planning a week’s worth of delicious meals for my household, and experiencing the joy of cooking without being so, well, connected. And listen, I realize dunking on an AI-powered smart oven for being too online has some real ‘old man yells at cloud’ energy. Maybe a refrigerator that knows what you’re feeding your family and orders groceries for you is the life-changing gadget of your smart home dreams!

Personally, though? I’m happy just to use my boring old gas range with manual entry. A digital display that flashes the timer is smart enough for me—for now, at least.

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DISCUSSION

I went through the process of buying a new range for my kitchen. I bought an oven with minimal electronics and no knowledge of the Internet.

I do believe that technology could enable kitchen appliances to do great things; however, given how IoT has been implemented in other devices I am staying away from putting any of this in my appliances.

I do not want my oven to stop working because the internet is off or because it needs a software update. I don’t want my range to stop working because Samsung no longer supports it on the app and now I’m forced to buy a new one. I don’t want any fucking ads on my stove like the ads being shown on my $3,000 “Smart” TV. I don’t want to be tracked. I don’t need my stove to have a social feed. And I definitely do not want hackers to render my oven useless or, worse, a safety hazard.