Your Antique Oven Just Got Internet Access

Why buy new “smart” appliances when clever designs can retrofit old ones?

How often do you buy a new oven or fridge? These tank-like appliances are engineered to last decades, but their technology can be decades out of date.


Range OI is a fascinating solution. By Supermechanical–the same company that brought us the domestic do-anything sensor Twine and the app-connected thermometer Range–Range OI is a tool to connect an old oven to the cloud.

Shaped like a butcher block and loaded with magnets for flexible mounting, it’s a sensor that sticks to your oven to connect it to your Android or iOS phone. That allows you to receive push notifications when your oven preheats, or if you leave the house with it on. But it’s also a probe thermometer, rated up to 450-degrees, that can track the temperature of your food as you bake it–beaming the results to your phone.

With a built-in accelerometer, the system recognizes when you tap on the oven twice–a simple gesture that you can map to all sorts of functions, like alerting your family that dinner is done (via an alert on your smart TV or a push notification to their phones). In this sense, Range OI is not just tracking what your oven has always done; it’s adding new (albeit simple) features to an old appliance.

John Kestner, co-founder and principal at Supermechanical, likens Range OI to your set top box from Comcast or DISH. While your TV stays fairly constant, you swap in new boxes every few years, gaining functionality like DVR, internet, or room-to-room sharing. Kitchen appliances could fit this same mold, he says, supported by pure utility and the very act of cooking, an emotionally charged activity that you just don’t find in the living or laundry room.

“Many of the things we’re worried about are in the kitchen. It’s more relevant to consumers now and less explored than a general home automation field that’s still searching for a vision more compelling than the Jetsons,” Kestner says. “I think most of these products haven’t yet found their emotional core–I love how Kindle and iPod focused on serving a human experience in a more convenient way.”

The Range OI is on Kickstarter now, with models starting at $98.


About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.