Alexa, What’s for Dinner?


Fri 27th Sep 2019


48 hours ago Amazon held a product event where they launched a whole raft of tech under the banner of ‘Certified for Humans—smart devices for non-experts’ – an interesting concept and more about that can be found here.  

There are many products in the line-up, including Alexa enabled glasses called Amazon Echo Frames, a smart ring called Amazon Echo Loop, so you too can look like a secret agent whilst out and about, but most interesting of all, was the Amazon Smart Oven. If you find ‘Scratch microwave cooking’ a bit too much, where you actually have to read the packaging, discern the cooking time, select the power setting and extend your forefinger to press a button, then this is the product for you.  

According to the Amazon press release, the product ‘…is a combination convection oven, microwave, air fryer and food warmer. When paired with an Echo, customers can ask Alexa to preheat the oven, start or stop cooking, and be notified when the oven is preheated or their favourite lasagne or fresh-baked cookies are ready. Amazon Smart Oven supports 30 cooking presets and comes with a temperature probe to make it easy to get great, crowd-pleasing cooking results. Customers can also use the convenient scan-to-cook feature to make a great meal, every time. Using the Alexa app or, in the future, a compatible Echo Show device, customers can simply scan the barcode on packaged foods and the Amazon Smart Oven will cook them just right. Scan-to-cook will work with hundreds of packaged foods from brands including Whole Foods Market, 365 Everyday Value, Gardein, Marie Callender’s, and more.’ 

Why we think this is interesting:  

Well, it’s great way of integrating data into another human experience moment. Amazon and Alexa will now know what you eat, when you eat it, which day of the week, what your favourite food is, how often you eat, your preferred method of cooking, etc – the list goes on. These data points and events will then be statistically analysed to create predictive interruption points to drive or nudge desired behaviours in shoppers. You happen to love Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Lasagne; it will be no coincidence that you might start seeing banners and offers for Whole Foods Lasagne.  

But we think it will go deeper than that through the ‘Scan-to-cook’ feature. Alexa, by definition, will know the ingredients of the product you’re preparing – this will then in-turn infer your flavour profile, regional preferences, how much spice you want in your life and so on. Using this information, Alexa will no doubt warn you of an impending peanut allergy disaster through to perhaps actively nudging you towards different food trends that may yield higher profit margins. The possibilities are huge. 

Regardless of what does or doesn’t happen, connecting food preparation and ultimately consumption to the Echo ecosystem has some interesting potential, certainly something we’re exploring with our clients. Is your product packaging Echo ‘Scan-to-cook’ compatible?