The Zojirushi rice maker is a marvel of the industrialized era. It plays you “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” before it cooks rice using a “fuzzy logic” that will automatically juggle heat and humidity to prepare the grains perfectly every time.
In other words, Zojirushi has more or less made the iPhone of rice makers, and so leave it to Xiaomi–the Chinese mega company that first made its name cloning iPhones–to set its sights on conquering home appliance companies like Zojirushi as its next conquest.
At its core, Xiaomi’s Mi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker ($150) is a Teflon-coated, automatic rice cooker like any other, but it connects to an Android app that can actually scan the barcodes on 200 brands of rice, and use that information to adjust its cooking times and temperatures appropriately. On top of that, the Xiaomi cooker looks fantastically understated–a lot like this rice cooker made by Muji, The Verge points out–meaning Xiaomi is successfully replicating its approach to smartphone clones for home appliances.
Currently, the company has expressed no plans to bring the rice cooker to the U.S. But as Xiaomi ramps up, pursuing the American market more aggressively, it’s easy to imagine an entire wave of reasonably priced, ethically questionable appliance designs produced by Xiaomi as becoming every bit as irresistible as Ikea is to furniture.
Founded in 2010, Xiaomi became the world’s third largest smartphone producer–trailing only Apple and Samsung–in just four years of existence. That positions any new market it dabbles in as ripe for extreme shakeup. Especially if it involves sweet, sweet carbohydrates.