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Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Jul 31, 2015 10:14AM ● Published by Julie Ross

By Julie Ross

Once again, I found myself with a weird collection of magazines to choose from in the doctor’s waiting room. Not in the mood for either golf or makeup tips, I selected the April 14 issue of Popular Science, which included the winners of the magazine’s 2015 Invention Awards. 

For those of you (or your college-bound offspring!) whose idea of home cooking means toasting up a frozen waffle or reheating take-out Chinese, there is hope for you with one of this year’s award-winning inventions.

Huberto Evans, a chef and MIT engineer (really, both) is bringing to market “the next evolutionary leap in the kitchen.” His product is an educational frying pan, the Pantelligent, which promises to launch humanity into a new era of stovetop enlightenment. 

A sensor in the smart pan’s handle accurately measures temperature and uses Bluetooth technology to communicate with a Pantelligent smart phone app. The cook is kept informed not only how hot the pan is, but also how hot it should be for the recipe being prepared. It helpfully tells the cook when it’s time to add ingredients, stir or flip. Voila! No more burnt pancakes, rubbery eggs, or inconsistent renderings of chicken adobo!

If only you had planned ahead, you could be one of the lucky ones who will be getting their smart pans this month. People who pledged $199 or more to fund the project on Kickstarter are expected to receive their Pantelligents by August 15. As of the first of the year, $83,206 had been pledged by investors to make this frying pan dream a reality. (Because, evidently, that is the best thing the 464 backers could think of to do with their money. Really, I am not making this up.)

It’s not clear when the product is going to online sales or retail. However, if you or your loved ones happen to be food-prep challenged, you will be pleased to know the Pantelligent began testing July 10 for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certification, which is required for all electronic devices in the United States. It’s probably safe to say this is the first frying pan to ever require an OK from the FCC.

Are you curious about the other award-winning inventions? Among the top ten there is a medical lab in a music box, an artificial reef for any seafloor (even bumpy ones!), and a plane that folds up into a car. Note that the magazine states this last invention is not a flying car (which the editors imply is a tired sci-fi gimmick), but an airplane that drives, which evidently is a completely different concept.

And finally, if all this talk of inventions has caused a cartoon light bulb to appear over your head, I suggest you visit Quirky.com. Quirky is a community company with the mission of making invention accessible. The good people at Quirky believe everyone can be an inventor, and invention can happen anywhere.

Good luck. Sorry the smart frying pan idea has already been taken.

You can reach Julie at julieakross@comcast.net.

Community Necessity is the Mother of Invention Popular Science frying pan
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