The Internet of Things and Better BBQ

Phil Schwarzmann

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One of the key things about the Internet of Things (IoT) is that it’s everywhere. With billions and billions of sensors spreading globally to feed us information from sources we never knew had something to say (bed pillows, medicine bottles), it’s clear that the IoT is getting around. So why wouldn’t it find a seat at a barbeque?

This latest installment in our “Things in the Internet of Things” series takes a look at how researchers are trying to improve BBQ with the help of IoT sensors in a 12-foot high meat smoker that pours out both smoke and data.

Art or Science?

Is barbeque a science or an art? That was a question engineers at General Electric wanted to answer when they developed the “Super Smoker” and debuted it at the annual SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, Texas. The super smoker was packed with IoT sensors designed to transmit data at every stage of the grilling process. Since the best BBQ chefs seem to have an almost artistic instinct for knowing what to do, and when, the idea was to find out if there was more science behind it than even the chefs themselves might realize, and help inform and improve the cooking process for everyone.

The Super Smoker had a super dashboard that displayed and recorded a range of metrics from its connected sensors that could indicate what went right, or wrong, when the fate of a slab of brisket was at stake (pun intended).

Among the metrics:

  • Smoke velocity (feet per minute), which measured the volume of smoke inside
  • Relative humidity
  • The temperature to a tenth of a degree in each of the smoker’s three chambers
  • The temperature to a tenth of a degree of the meat being cooked

The relative humidity gauge, for instance, can be particularly useful for the chef, according to Thomas Van Houten, who built the smoker for GE. He told Mashable that different wood types with different levels of moisture make that gauge fluctuate when it’s fed to the smoker, but the more consistent the chef can keep humidity, the more moist the meat.

The idea of the Super Smoker isn’t to change the way experts are cooking. But if the sensors can detect different patterns of temperature levels, humidity and smoke velocity that result in perfectly cooked meat, it could make a perfect brisket seem less like magic, and more accessible to the average person.

The IoT is supposed to make the world better. Why not start with barbeque?

Equinix specializes in delivering the fast, secure and globally ubiquitous interconnection that’s needed to fully exploit the data streaming off these billions of connected IoT sensors, in meat smokers and everywhere else. Read about Equinix’s IoT vision.

And please check out the other posts in our “Things in the Internet of Things” series:

The Internet of Things and the Deep Blue Sea”

The Internet of Things and the World of Kitchen Gadgetry”

“The Internet of Things and Staying Healthy”

“The Internet of Things and Better BBQ” (see above)

“The Internet of Things and Sleeping Like an Athlete”