iPhone Life magazine

iGrill: Grilling the Perfect Steak and the Internet of Things

I love my iGrill from iDevices ($79.95). I have owned many a meat thermometer over the years, only to be disappointed by undercooked steaks, melted plastic bezels, and holding devices a little to close to the heat. iGrill appears to be accurate. Even better, it talks to my iPad so I don’t have to sit and watch the steak cook. To quote a tutorial on steak cooking, “the only reason to flip a steak is to cook the other side.” Many BBQ aficionados spend too much time with their meat. They poke and prod, flip and rearrange because watching a steak cook is like watching the proverbial grass grow. Since you want the perfect steak, you pay a little too much attention to it. While people are putting out paper plates, popping the tab on another beer, or cheering a great block shot in croquet, you are left watching your meat cook.

Well stop it. Leave the meat alone. iGrill will tell you when it is ready. Get the grill nice and hot, sear the steak on each side for about 5 minutes, and then move it over to an area with indirect heat. Close the lid and just leave it alone until it is the temperature you prefer. iGrill includes a number of profiles for beef, pork, poultry, etc. And if you are still bored, and you just need to do something with your culinary masterpiece, open up the grill, take a picture and tweet it from iGrill.

To add iGrill to your BBQ or kitchen repertoire, first, go out and get one. Then download the app to your phone or iPad. Turn on the iGrill and connect to it via Bluetooth. Then get a steak, or other item, ready to cook. If cooking a steak, follow the directions above, if cooking something else, click on Recipes in the app for some ideas. For the most part, you will insert the probe into the thickest part of whatever you are cooking, and wait for your iPad to notify you that your meal is ready. Although I’ve been mostly talking about grilling, iGrill works equally well for ovens and stovetops.

But that’s the simple way. If you want to fuss a bit, you can purchase an auxiliary ambient temperature tool so you can monitor not only your steak, but also the temperature inside the grill. This is a great add-on for smoker and long-prep, low-temp BBQ. The second probe that comes with the unit can monitor another food, like a baking potato, simultaneously.

The app also includes a map of where people are using iGrill, a temperature graph, a timer,  support information about iGrill, and a link to their store.

So what does all of this have to do with the Internet-of-Things, that vast IP-enabled network of devices talking to each other? Well, iGrill works. And the Internet of things? Not always so much. I recently received an IP-enabled thermostat for my home (more on that in another post). I set it up on my primary network, but like many people with home networks, my WiFi can be a bit sketchy. I often find my thermostat trying to connect, which means it’s not connected. If I were traveling, I would not be able to change my house’s heating profile. And yesterday, I was three-doors down from a Starbucks, eating Mexican food. And although the chips were within easy reach, my table was out of WiFi range.

Because the iGrill employs Bluetooth rather than IP, it works between two devices. I don’t need to get my entire network involved. Bluetooth facilitates peer-based networks. Yes, the iPad is likely on “the Internet” so it can tweet, but if it wasn’t, it would still monitor my cooking craftsmanship.

I think we have to be cautious about the Internet of Things. As ubiquitous as the Internet appears, it is really much more like the maps used by various wireless telephony carriers to illustrate their coverage. There are places the Internet just doesn’t go yet; and where it is, it isn’t always reliable. Bluetooth, on the other hand, sits within the purview of the device owner. No need for Internet service. No need for a router to connect two devices. Connect and go. For now that Connected-Devices story is more believable than the Internet-of-Things story.

And now I've gotta go. I’ve got a sirloin that needs to be rested.

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Daniel Rasmus's picture

Daniel W. Rasmus, the author of Listening to the Future and Management by Design, is a strategist, industry analyst, and business correspondent for iPhone Life magazine. Prior to starting his own consulting practice, Rasmus was the Director of Business Insights at Microsoft Corporation, where he helped the company envision how people will work in the future.

Before joining Microsoft, Rasmus was Research Vice President at the Giga Information Group and Forrester Research Inc. Rasmus also is an internationally recognized speaker. He blogs regularly for Fast Company and on his own blog, Your Future in Context. His education-related work can be found at Learning Reimagined.