Alexa for all, Miele’s microwave 3.0


The consumer electronics and appliance trade gathers in Berlin after the holiday for IFA. Berlin is a city full of references to WWII, and this time even more than normal: at Tegel airport an old bomb was discovered and caused all air traffic to halt. Many visitors were stuck. But Germans keep going and premium brand Miele stunned everybody with a completely new type of microwave and an accompanying all-new oven platform. One could be wondering what you can add to a mature product like this, but they did it. It uses another frequency, 915 instead of 2.4 MHz. This is one of the frequencies which are used by GSM mobile telephony, and 2.4 is the typical WiFi band.
But why? It turns out that this frequency, which still is a “microwave” type, penetrates food much better. It goes into the core of most foods and your meat is cooked super-evenly and much faster. The power is lower, about 250 Watt, but in combination with normal oven heating it is enough; most cooking times are halved with identical or better results. There is another smart trick: to compensate for varying microwave absorption the system uses two antennas en measures the amount of absorbed energy by comparing input and reflection, and thus detects the perfect frequency. This measuring explains the name for the system: Dialog. Miele does not want to call it a microwave and many were a bit confused. Would the title “Microwave 3.0 PerfectDose, Fast&Even” not have been a better label?
As the frequency could interfere with existing mobile telephony, Miele designed a totally new oven platform. During design it was found that the new frequency needed a different shape for the cavity. Also the door is non-transparant to prevent any radiation leaking. Still, it is a great new product and many competitors will have felt some envy, as this cannot be matched any time soon. Not often you see a step forward of this magnitude. But is there a downsize? Yes. One can guess that designing a new microwave system and a new platform does not come cheap. So the first model (called M Chef) will set you back a hefty EUR 7990,- and you have to wait until spring next year. Even for Miele customers this is quite a price, and Miele notes that these are customers who want the best cooking results with the best equipment, which seems to be very, very true. In another aspect Miele did what was expected from all manufacturers: connect with Alexa. The new Alexa skill connects with the existing Miele@Home and will answer typical quick questions as ‘when is my washer ready’ and ‘switch on the hood’.

BSH X-Spect sensor.

Over at the Bosch and Siemens stands Alexa also was present. Earlier this year, in Cologne, there was already a skill for a dishwasher and an oven, but now all the products in the HomeConnect range can be connected. And not only to Alexa, but also via IFTTT which is another big step. Interesting is the more or less competing BSH prototype Mykie: this is also a kind of smart speaker, but also includes a screen and projector, and it has a much wider feature set geared towards cooking. And it is way cuter. Another prototype for BSH is the X-Spect scanner and remote. An optical sensor can help you perform several tasks: recognize fabrics and stains, and recognize food types. It can then send the info to your oven or washer. Sadly, it was still a secret what and how the sensor exactly was measuring and if we want to check food and clothing with the same sensor. It is a prototype and Bosch and Siemens are testing the waters.

Bosch Roxxter robot vacuum cleaner.

Bosch also introduced the Roxxter, the long awaited entry of BSH in the robot vacuum category. It has an unique direct drive brush for more power and less belt problems. It can create a map of all rooms and mark no-go areas. Bosch also has a new handheld cordless vacuum, using the same batteries as your Bosch power tools. (by Paul Roggema)