Hearing someone explaining the benefits of sous-vide is really just hearing about the benefits of accurate temperature control. And that's great — if you only cook things in Ziploc bags.
Meld is a Kickstarter project that wants to temperature-control anything that goes on a stovetop — soup, deep-fat fryers, or even beer. It has two bits of hardware: a Bluetooth-enabled knob that you retrofit to your stove, which gives the system physical control over your stovetop; and a temperature probe, which sits inside the dish and reports back to the knob. Of course, there's also an app to run the show.
The smartphone app works with natural language — so where a recipe calls for 'medium-high' heat for two hours, you plug that into the app, and let it be while you go drink a beer. Given that I destroyed a kitchen counter and a pot by letting something 'simmer' for three hours last week, I am obviously a big fan of that capability. You can also set your pot to a precise temperature, which should open the door to some amateur sous-vide work.
The most interesting thing about Meld is possibly the price: $US129 for Kickstarter backers, going up to $US149 after the crowdfunding campaign ends. Given that a standalone sous-vide device runs $US180, that seems pretty damn cheap. Of course, a standalone sous-vide will probably have the edge for sous-vide-ing, but I think Meld will still have an edge, given the flexibility it brings.
Of course, Meld is still a Kickstarter project, and, as such, comes with the usual crowdfunding buyer-beware caveat. But, with a bunch of slick-looking prototypes already up and running (and $US63,000 in the bank), it's probably a fairly safe investment. [Kickstarter]