15 Items for a Smarter Kitchen

Using these items can help make cooking just a little bit easier.

1. Tfal Optigrill, $159

Depending on where you live, you might not have space for a true grill, or be allowed to use one. And even if you did, knowing when stuff is properly cooked can sometimes be a challenge. Enter the Tfal Optigrill. This apartment-friendly device takes the guesswork out of grilling: It uses sensors to perfectly grill everything from burgers and chicken breasts to sausages and fish and even paninis, making it a lot less likely that you’re going to give yourself—or those you’re cooking for—food poisoning. Take a hamburger, for example: Want it done rare, medium, or well? The Optigrill beeps at each stage so the meat is just how you like it.

Buy on Amazon

2. Gunter Wilhelm 7” santoku knife, $65

You might be thinking that $65 is a lot to spend on a single knife, but trust us: It’s worth it. The Santoku is great for mincing, slicing, dicing, and chopping, and the dimples create air pockets that keep food from sticking while you cut. Plus, it’s made with an alloy of high carbon and stainless steels, so it will last forever (and if something happens to go wrong, the knife has a lifetime warranty). Also comes with bragging rights: Tell your friends you’re using the same brand of knife as professional chefs and the people who cook for the President, and they’re sure to be impressed.

Buy on Amazon

3. Pop Chart Lab Cooking Measurements Tea Towel, $16

Converting measurements while you're cooking can be a pain. Keep this towel on hand to make it easier. (Plus, it's nice to look at!)

Buy on Pop Chart Lab

4. Quirky Mocubu Cutting Board, $24

This cutting board also functions as an organizational device, storing foods you’ve already chopped in handy drawers underneath until you’re ready to use them.

Buy on Amazon

5. Adjustable Rolling Pin, $20

Sure, you can guesstimate the thickness of your dough. Or you could buy this rolling pin, which has discs you screw on to the ends so you can roll to exact thickness; measurements etched into the pin itself help you nail the width, too.

Buy on Amazon

6. Slip-on Bowl Spout, $7

Stop drips and spills with this handy little device, which slips onto bowls for easy pouring.

Buy on Amazon

7. Perfect Bake, $50

Baking is an art, of course, but it’s also a science. Brookstone’s Perfect Bake™ App-Controlled Smart Baking is a scale that connects to an iPad app to help you nail those recipes every time. It not only guides you through each recipe, but helps you determine what you can make based on what ingredients you have on hand.

Buy on Amazon

8. Compact Folding Bookstand, $27

Whatever you choose to read your recipe off of—a cookbook, your iPad or iPhone, a single piece of paper—this will hold it all. If you’re using your iPad, outfit it in these sleeves to keep the screen flour- and grease-free.

Buy on Amazon

9. Paperchef Parchment Cooking Bags, $8

Make like the French and cook “en papillote,” or “in parchment" with these bags, which can be used in the oven, on the upper shelf of BBQs, and even in the microwave. It won’t just enhance food’s natural flavors, but also make cleanup a lot easier!

Buy on Amazon

10. Onion Goggles, $20

It’s one thing to put metaphorical sweat and tears into a meal. It’s another entirely to do it because you’re crying from chopping onions. (Here’s why they make you cry, by the way.) These goggles will keep you from shedding tears, and might also be useful if you’re taking a road trip in a motorcycle sidecar.

Buy on Amazon

11. Grape and Tomato Cutter, $10

Slicing grapes and tomatoes the old fashioned way takes forever. If you’re not interested in doing the two plates-and-a-knife method, as demonstrated by this brilliant dad, pick up this handy device.

Buy on Amazon

12. Nesting Bowls, $195

If space is at a premium in your kitchen, consider investing in this set of stainless steel nesting prep bowls, which also includes a colander, a mesh sieve, and measuring cups. (There’s also a plastic set for half the price.)

Buy on Amazon

13. Lifefactory Glass Food Storage, $17

These glass containers serve as both food storage and bakeware—even the silicone sleeve can go in the oven! Comes in three sizes: one cup, two cup, and four cup.

Buy on Amazon

14. Pancake Batter Dispenser, $10

Making pancakes has never been this clean: Load the batter in the stainless steel dispenser, hold it over your griddle, and squeeze the handle. Goodbye wasted batter, hello perfectly round pancakes!

Buy on Amazon

15. Cuisinart Combo Steam and Convection Oven, $300

Another smart combination device for small spaces, this oven broils, bakes, and toasts. There’s no oil, so your dishes are healthier, and steam heat cuts cooking time by 40 percent. You can even proof bread in this bad boy!

Buy on Amazon

BONUS: Hedley & Bennett Commis Apron, $83

No chef should look like a hot mess when he leaves the kitchen. Keep it clean and stylish with this apron.

Buy on Amazon

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Sensorwake, Kickstarter
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Wake Up to the Aroma of Cappuccino With This Scent-Emitting Alarm Clock
Sensorwake, Kickstarter
Sensorwake, Kickstarter

Some people need an aggressive alarm clock to get them out of bed, like Simone Giertz's slapping robot, or the singNshock, which zaps you if you hit the snooze button. For others, a gentler wakeup call is what does the trick. That's what you get with Sensorwake, a new alarm clock on Kickstarter that gradually stimulates three of your senses to ease you into the day.

During the first minute of the alarm's three-minute wakeup process, it releases a pleasant aroma. You have your choice of scent cartridges, including cappuccino, peppermint, rose garden, chocolate factory, orange juice, and pine forest. A single cartridge lasts 30 days before it needs to be switched out.

After reviving your nose, Sensorwake activates its visual component: a soft light. For the final minute, the gadget plays sound like a traditional alarm clock, but instead of a blaring buzzer, you hear one of five upbeat melodies. If all that isn't enough to get you on your feet, you can hit snooze and wait for the cycle to start over in 10 minutes.

With more than three weeks left in its Kickstarter campaign, Sensorwake has already multiplied its original funding goal of $30,000. To reserve a clock and two scent capsules of your own, you can pledge $59 or more. Shipping is estimated for November of this year.

[h/t Mashable]

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Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL
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MIT’s New AI Can Sense Your Movements Through Walls Using Radio Signals
Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL
Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL

New artificial intelligence technology developed at MIT can see through walls, and it knows what you’re doing.

RF-Pose, created by researchers at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), uses wireless signals to estimate a person’s pose through a wall. It can only come up with a 2D stick figure of your movements, but it can nonetheless see your actions.

The system, described in a new paper [PDF], uses a neural network to piece together radio signals bouncing off the human body. It takes advantage of the fact that the body reflects radio frequency signals in the Wi-Fi range. These Wi-Fi signals can move through walls, but not through people.

Using data from low-power radio signals—1000 times lower than the power your home Wi-Fi router puts out—this algorithm can generate a relatively accurate picture of what the person behind the wall is doing by piecing together the signals reflected by the moving body.

The system can recognize movement in poor lighting and identify multiple different individuals in a scene. Though the technology is still in development, it’s not hard to imagine that the military might use it in surveillance, but the researchers also suggest that it may be useful for video game design and search-and-rescue missions. It might also help doctors monitor and analyze the movements of patients with disorders like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

This is just the latest in a series of projects using radio signals to mimic X-ray vision. CSAIL has been working on similar technology using Wi-Fi signals for several years, creating algorithms to recognize human forms and see motion through obstructions. In the future, they hope to expand the system to be able to recognize movement with 3D images rather than the current 2D stick figures.

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