The Orange Chef is on a mission to create a real ecosystem in which all your kitchen accessories interact with one another. And the Californian startup’s innovative ideas have certainly not escaped Google’s notice.

Prep Pad: connected kitchen scales enable ‘smarter’ cooking


Google takes a close interest in all kinds of smart objects in a variety of areas, including the car and home automation, and the Mountain View giant now also intends to make its presence felt in the connected kitchen by investing in The Orange Chef. This San Francisco-based startup, which makes connected objects for the kitchen, has recently raised $1.2 million from Google Venturesand other investors. The company has just developed Prep Pad, a set of kitchen scales which connects to an iPad to provide the user with data on the nutritional value of his/her food. But The Orange Chef does not intend to stop there. Somewhat along the lines of the partnership between GE and Quirky, the California startup is planning to work on bringing out a whole range of kitchen appliances that all work with one another.

Kitchen scales that work out ingredients’ nutritional value

The Orange Chef already sells kitchen accessories such as plastic covers to protect iPads used in the kitchen to view recipes while cooking, and a chopping board with a built-in iPad slot. However the product that has most recently caught investors’ attention is a connected kitchen scales called Prep Pad, which is connected via Bluetooth to a mobile app called Countertop. This iOS app has a database of 220,000 ingredients and packaged products. The user just needs to specify what foodstuff/liquid s/he is weighing, either by manually selecting it in the app, or by scanning a product barcode, plus there’s also a voice-capture feature. The app will then analyze the nutritional information on the foodstuff, building a graphic image of the various components – proteins, carbohydrates, fats, etc. – and work out the total calorie value. The user can enter personal data – physical exercise patterns, health status, objectives, weight loss/gain, etc. – when s/he installs the app so that the calorie/nutrition results displayed can be personalized. Another option allows users to record a given set of ingredients and share recipes via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Evernote. The product will be on sale in the United States from February 2014, priced at around $150.

Ecosystem in which connected tools interact

There are many cooking-related apps for mobile phones and tablets already in existence. Tablets have even been developed specifically for use in the kitchen, but very few of these tools actually interact with kitchen accessories. By contrast, The Orange Chef is gearing up to launch a whole range of connected items for the kitchen and create a real ecosystem. The next product is likely to be a smart ‘visual’ thermometer that will tell you whether your food is cooked rather than just providing basic temperature data. The new thermometer will also take into account personal preferences such as how you like your steak cooked. All in all, Prep Pad looks perfectly positioned to capitalize on the quantified health trend, and going forward might even link up with activity-focused devices such as FitBit. Meanwhile, the opportunity to gain access to all this data is something that has certainly not escaped Google’s attention.

By Manon Garnier