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Cooking, Traveling, and Relaxing this Summer with Technology feature image

Cooking, Traveling, and Relaxing this Summer with Technology

By Mark Jeffries, Special to The Maverick Magazine

Summer is a great time of year to do things you could theoretically do any time of year, but in summer you typically have more gusto due to warmer temps and a river of sunshine. Cooking is great 12 months of the year, but especially so during the summer months with an influx of fresh fruits and vegetables. The same could be said for travel, but with school vacations and sunny weather, summer is the prime time for many family trips. Above all, summer is a time for relaxation; but between planning trips, parties, and fresh family meals, this is rarely the case. Fortunately, recent technological innovations help in all of these areas.

The fields of culinary arts and technology have always been linked. Today, this relationship is manifesting itself in increasingly smart homes. For example, the Samsung Family Hub is a refrigerator that takes pictures of its entire interior every time the door shuts, which you can access with your phone—meaning no more buying another bottle of salsa when you already have three in the fridge. It also boasts a 21-1/2″ touch screen, which lets the whole family add to a calendar, shopping list, photo window, and even access apps that play music and suggest recipes—and that’s just the fridge.

Another recent addition to the kitchenscape, the June Intelligent Oven has LED lights in the top interior with cameras showing a picture-perfect view your food from the top down, and those pictures show up right on your phone. The cameras even recognize different features of what you put in, so it can tell cookies from chicken, for example, and adjusts settings accordingly.

Shifting from the kitchen to the open road, summer is a great time to get out of the house and see the country with the family; but of course, a key part of travel is making sure things run smoothly at home. Nest Cam is a camera that senses when your phone is out of the house so it knows when to turn on, and actually sends you updates if it detects any movement in your home. You can tune into a live video feed of your home at any point to check in, and it has an audio feature, so you can even tell Fido to get off the couch from wherever you are in the world!

Also keeping wheels turning while you’re away, Rachio smart outdoor watering system learns your lawn-watering schedule over time. You can customize the schedule based on soil type, yard layout, and other environmental factors and then connect local weather data to the system. This way, Rachio figures out when to water and when to hold off based on what the sky is doing. You can also monitor watering and alter it from anywhere in the world with your smartphone.

Summer is often seen as a great time to relax—but works keeps churning just like it does all year, bills need paying, dinner has to get on the table. Relaxing becomes ironically hard work, even during the summer. A recent trend in mobile app-building seeks to remedy that. One app called Buddhify has more than eighty guided meditation programs on your phone that match whatever you’re doing at the moment you feel the need to relax. There are tracks for travel, waking up, feeling stressed out, and even working online. You just select whatever track matches your current situation and the app steps you through a series of mental exercises to help you feel more at ease and less stressed out.

For newcomers to the world of meditation and mindfulness, another app called Calm starts you out with a seven-day program, and walks you through the process—so you can choose between options for sound and length of time, and even scenes from nature to visually focus on while you meditate.

Regardless of how you relax in the next few months—whether by spending quality time in the kitchen, hitting the road for a trip, or taking a minute or two to meditate, technology can help you live your best life.

Here’s to a safe and rewarding summer season!