Panasonic will launch a new line of rice cookers from June that can save recipes and settings online, using touch-card technology to sync with an Android phone running a special app.
The device has an RFID (radio-frequency identification) reader built into its lid that works with Sony's FeliCa touch-card platform. FeliCa-based cards are widely used in Japan for train passes and payments at stores, and many mobile phones in the country come with the card technology built in.
Users of Panasonic's SR-SX2 rice cookers can download an Android application to search for cooking presets and online recipes offered by the company, as well as store 100 recipes of their own. The app also allows ingredients for recipes to be converted to text form and sent via email.
Home appliance makers including Panasonic are moving toward so-called "smart appliances" that can connect to the Internet to provide additional functionality. In January, the company launched its own wireless broadband service that will work with its advanced TVs, audio equipment, refrigerators and washing machines.
The SR-SX2 rice cookers are an intermediate step, relying as they do on mobile phones for their connectivity. The company did not release a price for the rice cooker, though it is available for pre-order on online shopping sites for around ¥47,000 (US$570).
Rice cookers are a standard appliance in the Japanese kitchen, and advanced models offer a wide variety of settings for different rice types and preparation, as well as various recipes.
Panasonic's SR-SX2 line also includes gold plating on the rice vessel to help conduct heat, heating wires on the lid, base and walls of the device, and a function to blast rice with super-heated steam during the cooking process.