A Frying Pan That Teaches You to Cook

One of ten brilliant innovations from our 2015 Invention Awards

Educational Frying Pan

Photo by Brian Klutch
2015 Invention Award Winner Category: Health
Inventors: Humberto Evans, Mike Robbins, Kyle Moss, Yuan Wei
Company: CircuitLab Inc.
Invention: Pantelligent
Development Cost To Date: $20,000+
Maturity: 5/5

Instead of eating at dining halls in college, Humberto Evans cooked his own meals. His best friend, Mike Robbins, on the other hand, could barely fry an egg. Robbins would forego the lure of takeout only when Evans gave him step-by-step cooking instructions. The two realized that others probably needed some culinary hand-holding as well. With help from two other MIT engineering alumni, Kyle Moss and Yuan Wei, they created the world's first smart frying pan: Pantelligent.

The pan measures its temperature with heat sensors and transmits the data via Bluetooth technology in its handle. A smartphone app uses this information to decide when it’s time for a recipe’s next step and then tells the user. “To cook amazing food the way chefs do, you have to build intuition for how long to cook something at the right temperature,” Evans says. “We take all that knowledge and package it into our app.”

Users can choose a preprogrammed recipe, such as chicken adobo or fried eggs, or select freestyle mode to get temperature readings but not instructions. If a person likes the meal made in this mode, he or she can record and share the recipe. With a tool that de-stresses the kitchen experience, the Pantelligent team hopes more people will skip unhealthy processed meals in favor of home-cooked ones.

This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of Popular Science. For more extraordinary innovations and tips on how to be an inventor, click through the rest of our Invention Awards feature.