Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Using your cell phone to... cook food

This is a little outside the focus of most of my posts, but it was too interesting to pass up. The New York Times ran an article that was quoted several places regarding a Maytag oven that will turn itself on and automatically go to "high" whenever a nearby cellular phone is called:

“Maybe the ringing cellphone turned it on,” Mr. Melnikov suggested to the two men.

They scoffed.

He laid the phone next to the stove. They dialed it. Suddenly, the electronic control on the stovetop beeped. The digital display changed from a clock to the word “high.” As the phone was ringing, the broiler was heating up.

Three other apartments in the building are fitted with the same make and model oven: Maytag Model CGR1425ADW. “My phone turned on all of them,” Mr. Melnikov reported. “One apartment had a General Electric. It didn’t work on that one.”"
Intriguing possibilities ensue off of this... it would certainly make home automation a lot simpler, although I'm not sure how many people want third party remote access to the ovens. Some interesting ideas I could think of spin out of these Maytag ovens:
  • Leave your phone (or buy a special low cost phone for this purpose) next to the stove to turn the pot-roast on when you're away at church so it will be ready before coming home.
  • Leave your phone at an adversary's home (ex-girlfriend, bad-guy, etc.) and call it when they aren't there. Or even when they are, if you are the murdering type.
  • Copy the magic Maytag design into other household appliances, or better still your car.
I'd be interested in hearing your comments (below) regarding other applications, or maybe why it's really happening. I don't buy simple EM interference, as it triggers when the phone is called, not when it emits energy to make a call. Maybe the noise itself? Does the phone really ramp up EM emissions when receiving a call that much to trigger it? From the article: "Mr. Melnikov, 35, who emigrated from Russia in 2000, runs a company that sets up computers, networks and security systems. His apartment is crowded with electronics gear. " Coincidence? Or maybe Melnikov rigged it, or some of his other equipment is causing the interference.