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National Cookie Day, the IoT way

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As if we needed another excuse to indulge during the holidays … Happy National Cookie Day! It’s the 30th anniversary of this delicious event, designed to get us baking, sharing and eating. And we do love our cookies; each year, we spend more than $550 million  … on just Oreos!

Bitesized cookie history

Before we discuss how cookies connects to IoT, I think a little history is always nice. Let’s start with the name. “Cookie” originally came from the Dutch word “keokje,” which means “little cake.” The earliest “little cake” dates back to 7th century Persia A.D. (now Iran), one of the first countries to cultivate sugar. Originally used as a test to see if primitive ovens were the right temperature to bake big cakes, these “little cakes” went in first.

Then came the cookie’s first appearance in a cookbook in 1596 (Good Huswifes Jewel, which is – in fact – available on Amazon). After that came lots of sweet innovations, like affordable sugar and flour, and chemical raising agents in the 19th century. And let’s not forget the 1937 invention of the now-iconic Toll House Cookie in Massachusetts. FYI: National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day is May 15 next year.

Cooking up a connected kitchen

So how are cookies and IoT connected? We’ll start with how we make and bake. Because just like the beloved little cake evolved, so, too, is the kitchen in which you whip up any delicious gems. You may use your great-grandmother’s recipe (or even borrow a page from Good Huswifes Jewel), but from appliances to wearables, everything else in the kitchen is changing.

Recently I read “We’re living in an age where fridges connect to the internet and cutlery is Bluetooth-enabled, and if yours don’t, you may as well be eating your dinner with twigs.” Okay, that’s a bit extreme. But IoT-enabled kitchen devices are everywhere and seemingly do (almost) everything. Starting with the recipe. Your ingredients and recipes can talk to each wirelessly so that your family recipe is perfectly measured.

Then there are family-hub refrigerators, an oven that recognizes what food you’re cooking via an internal camera (and knows exactly how to make it), sensor-based egg minders, app-controlled scales, smart wine decanters, bar-code registering grocery lists … pick a kitchen category and there’s an IoT device. There’s even a fork that tracks the number of bites you take and how fast you take them (which I absolutely do not recommend when it comes it comes to anything cookie-related).

Who else is helping you connect?

Another example: last year, Whirlpool announced that it’s connecting Whirlpool home appliances with IBM Watson Services. Sensors on these appliances, including ovens, collect data about how those devices are being used out in the real world. This means that Whirlpool can keep monitoring and improving products even after they’ve been sold. The data shows exactly how customers are using their ovens, and how the appliances themselves are responding, making it easier to tailor-make future designs to customers’ requirements. Ready, set, bake!

Learn more about Whirlpool and IBM.

And it’s not just the appliances we choose; it’s how they’re repaired, too. To avert any baking disasters, Sears Home Services is using Watson IoT predictive and cognitive solutions to reimage the whole repair process.

As the #1 appliance repair company in the U.S., their goal is this: in the near future, your device will tell Sears “I’m going to fail in the next three weeks so come fix me.” Learn more connected holidays.

Creating safe cookie with IoT

That’s our personal kitchens. Now let’s move on to the ingredients that go into our delightful little friends.

No one would blame you if “food safety” isn’t top of mind every time you swing by the store. Fortunately, for many of the people controlling the shelves, it is. And they’re using IoT throughout the process.

Today’s food system is very complex. You’ve got farmers, processors and distributors, often at a global level. Yet IoT lets you closely monitor many food safety data points. For example, real-time temperature tracking sensors can monitor a product’s temperature from the farm to the shelf. Your cold, fresh milk stays that way because (among other reasons) it’s been maintained at the proper temperature every step of the way.

With food safety in mind, Walmart and IBM recently teamed up to create a solution using blockchain and IoT. The goal is to engage all the food stakeholders, and develop a full view of the food chain. That, in turn, will make the food we buy safer, more affordable and more sustainable. And our cookies more delicious!

 Listen and discover why transparency, not just traceability, is the ultimate goal for the food chain.

Continuously engineering your cookies

And when you discover a new cookie gem at the grocery store, you might just have IoT to thank for that, too. No more “that’s how the cookie crumbles!” for businesses. Instead, companies now use IoT to continuously engineer products, including food. Consumer habits and opinions matter more than ever. And IoT gives companies the ability to capture consumer trends, logistic data and just about anything else that can be measured. And data insights mean proactive decisions that help companies, including cookie makers, stay ahead of the competition.

Not homemade? Not a problem!

What if home baking isn’t your thing? Chances are, you’ve still bought a cookie or two. And IoT could be behind your sweet treat.

When you purchase a treat, IoT could play a role.

Although they create milkshakes, not cookies, Golden State Foods is another great example of how IoT helps keep the sweet treats coming. You may not be familiar with them, but chances are, you know their work. Golden State Foods is one of the largest diversified suppliers to the food service industry. This 70-year-old company services approximately 125,000 restaurants, like McDonalds and Starbucks, in more than 60 countries on five continents. And they’re in the process of reimaging the farm to fork experience.

In addition to their unwavering focus on food safety, GSF is also making sure you can always satisfy your sweet tooth. With 1000 delivery trucks on the road at any given time, the GSF fleet logs 55 million miles annually. Eighty percent of the time, the driver is making a delivery in the middle of the night. To improve driver safety and delivery success, GSF is working with IBM on a pilot using wearable devices. These devices will be able to talk to Watson and overlay weather and traffic information so that drivers know what’s ahead. Oh, and National Chocolate Milkshake Day is September 12.

Once again, Happy National Cookie Day! And before you dunk you next Oreo (because seriously, someone’s eating all those cookies), give a slight nod to IoT. Then dunk away and enjoy this special day!

Content Director, Watson IoT

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