Yesterday, at the Consumer Electronics Show (also known as CES), an annual Vegas gala showcasing the latest in the forever-changing world of the Internet of Things, Delaware-based startup RnD64 introduced Hello Egg to the world. Hello Egg is a voice-activated, artificial intelligence kitchen assistant. Think of it as Alexa for the home cooking set. It looks like a Minion draped in black with a cyclopian blinking eye. The site for Hello Egg professes that this eight-inch ovular hunk will be “your home-cooking sidekick”; it also claims that Hello Egg “liberates you from the throes of mundane decision-making and frees up an extra day off for you each month.” (The promise of a day off comes with an asterisk that goes unexplained on the website.)
Operating under the assumption that cooking is a real slog, especially for us precious millennials ("Hello Egg is reintroducing home cooking to the modern millennial's life," the press release reads), Hello Egg, along with its web-based and smartphone app Eggspert, offers a three-tiered system. Users plan their weekly meals according to dietary preferences. Are you vegan? Gluten-free? Lactose intolerant? A dog? (There's a dog on the website!) Hello Egg will cater to you. It organizes users' shopping lists, ordering produce to be delivered straight to them. Then, it provides users with “easy-to-follow, step-by-step, voice-navigated video recipes." If you screw up, it's fine. Hello Egg has a cadre of cooking experts for its 24/7 support staff.
Hm. Sounds like a lot of steps to me, especially for a product that promises ease and simplification. If Hello Egg's official website doesn’t totally explain the intricacies of this product, a promo video from a few months back offers some clarity. Watch for yourself:
Does this make sense now? This sleek, animatronic egg will relay cooking instructions to you as you prep for your meal. And the egg, that bon vivant, will keep “a lively conversation going expressing itself through looks and winks.” Just what I want for a cooking companion. This artificially intelligent egg reads newspapers, forecasts your weather, streams music, but never at the expense of convenience. It still sets timers for your food!
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Hello Egg has received boosterishpressfrom tech media in the past 24 hours, with few expressing caution at its necessity or adoptability. For anything close to skepticism, you’d have to go back to last September to coverage from The Verge, Vox Media’s tech website, which wondered what true cooking innovations Hello Egg had to offer that didn’t already exist in books and techniques that people have followed for years. Maybe a winking egg is better than having another female voice for an AI assistant, a rather unbecoming trend that conflates femininity with domesticity. Hello Egg swears to do "much more than you can expect form your smart home assistant.” As for me? I’ve never had a smart home assistant, so I’m not quite sure what to expect.
Hello Egg starts shipping in February. It’s currently available for preorder. Would you use one?
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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.