When the Crock-Pot was first introduced into the American household in 1971, it was advertised as the “working woman’s dream!” — a slow-cooker “ideal for busy, busy people.” Fast-forward 43 years, and we’re more overworked than ever. Which is perhaps why it feels so appropriate that this iconic home appliance is finally joining the Internet of Things.
Along with an Internet-connected Mr. Coffee and a Holmes air purifier and humidifier, the Crock-Pot is now part of a family of smart devices controlled by the WeMo app, an all-in-one control system that runs on iOS and Android. It allows you to control a slew of new home gadgets straight from your phone or tablet.
The WeMo ecosystem, launched by Belkin last year, includes a line of Web-connected cameras, light switches, and remote-controllable electricity use-monitoring plugs. The company is now partnering with a variety of brand-name home appliance companies. The Crock-Pot, which will be released Aug. 10 for $130, but is available for discounted preorders on Amazon now, is the first of these products to hit the market.
Slow cookers typically function like this: You throw some meat, veggies, and spices into a pot, it warms those ingredients throughout the day, and when you open it up much later, you’ve done very little work to create a wonderfully seasoned meal.
But even with that relatively easy process, things can go awry. Maybe you got held up at work and can’t make it home in time to turn off your slow cooker. Or the kids are home early and you need dinner ready earlier than you expected.
This app-controlled pot allows you to adjust its settings from any location with a few taps on your smartphone or tablet. From the WeMo control center, you can turn the cooker on and off, adjust the temperature to one of three heat settings (high, low, or warm), set a timer for the dish you’re cooking, and check in to see the exact time a dish will be done. With the ability to adjust the heat settings, you can speed up a dish or keep it warm while you’re stuck in traffic.
You’re given a similarly comprehensive command center with the connected Mr. Coffee. Say you wake up — and like so many of us statistically do — glance at your phone. From there, you can open the WeMo app, tap a coffee-cup icon, and the pot will begin brewing. As it’s percolating, a small coffee button will pulse on the control screen. And when it’s finally finished, it’ll beep and show the coffee steaming.
The contraption is even smart enough to know when you’re missing a key element of the coffee-making process — like filters, grounds, or water — and stop you from going through the motions for nothing. That’s particularly clutch for anyone who finds herself in a zombie state pre-morning caffeination. It’ll be available to the public sometime in October, starting at $149.
Our taste tests of the Crock-Pot and coffee maker will appear here as soon as possible.