It was in the dark days of 1945 after Japan had been forced to concede defeat in the Second World War that Masaru Ibuka, the man who eventually went on to found the company that we now know as Sony, invented an electric rice cooker. It was an attempt to serve the many millions of people, who found they had electricity but no appliances to use it.
That device was made up of little more than a few aluminum electrodes on the base of a bucket made of wood. It was not a success. The rice it produced tended to end up either overcooked and mushy or undercooked and brittle. It was a failure.
Today, things are very different. Sony is now a global business that concentrates on professional and consumer electronics, as well as gaming, entertainment, and financial services – but with no rice cookers in sight!
Meanwhile, the electric rice cooker has been developed into a highly sophisticated and very modern tool for the world’s cooks to play with thanks to one Chinese company, Xiaomi.
To most people outside of China, Xiaomi is a tech giant that is probably best known for its range of affordable if solid smartphones.
But at home, the business is seen as much more. It is like a Samsung or a Sony that produces a whole range of consumer goods including air-purifiers, TVs, and power banks. It’s true to say that Xiaomi is well-known in China not only for manufacturing smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs, but also for its numerous other smart gadgets.
Not only that, but it is also recognized for having its fingers in all sorts of associated technological offshoots. For example, it has become an MVNO – a mobile virtual network operator, which is a wireless communication service provider – and is developing its own Android-based Operating System as well.
Xiaomi Rice Cooker
One recent product that Xiaomi has launched that has brought it to a new audience is its marvelously quirky Xiaomi Mi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker.
This machine will probably come as a Godsend to a lot of people who have probably been cooking rice the wrong way for a very long time. After all, how many of us have suffered either a burnt layer of rice stuck on the bottom of a pan or a watery mess either overcooked to a mush or undercooked with crunchy rice.
The Xiaomi Mi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker makes life so much easier. How? It holds the key to minimizing the water’s evaporation, which is what is at the root of most people’s problems with rice cooking. The Xiaomi device uses a magnetic relief valve that not only controls the pressure on the inside of the rice cooker, but it also sets an ideal boiling point for the water used. WIFi-enabled, it can be controlled using Xiaomi’s Mi Home application.
Indeed, the device forms part of the company’s new “Mi Ecosystem” home devices range. Xiaomi’s CEO and founder, Lei Jun, explains that his company began exploring the ecosystem business model earlier this decade with a view to upgrading and promoting Chinese manufacturing.
The Xiaomi company now boasts that the Mi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker benefits from the most advanced electromagnetic heating technology, along with the latest micro-pressure heating technology. The whole idea has always been to enable rice to be heated in a uniform way, so it comes out fluffy and delicious every time.
Xiaomi ‘s engineers are extremely confident that the cast iron base layer of their device with its Teflon coating, combined with an intelligent heat control is what is needed to provide unmatched permeability along with thermal stability. The technology means that the device can be adjusted according to each cook’s personal preferences as well as to cope with the wide variety of rice types available in the world.
You can rest assured that because Xiaomi is the fourth largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world, its rice cooker is by no means ordinary.
Producing an electronic rice cooker on its own is an interesting concept, but the company has not rested on its laurels, and Xiaomi has spiced spice things up by creating, in addition, a way that users can control the cooker via a smartphone app. Because the Mi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker is WiFi-enabled, it can be synced with the Mi Home app.
This means that cooks can tell the cooker which of the 200 brands of rice it recognizes are being used. This, in turn, allows the device to determine what kind of rice it is supposed to be cooking. Based on the information the cook provides via the app, the rice cooker can adjust its heating methodology.
The company’s companion app, Xiaomi claims, allows cooks to use any of the 2,450 different heating methods for cooking rice. The app uses barcode technology to scan the various styles of rice, so the cooker knows exactly what method to use to cook each type of rice. Although the company claims the app can already recognize 200 different brands of rice, it is adamant that more will be added in the future.
Xiaomi is proud to say this new rice cooker is much more than just fancy gadgetry. The manufacturer points out that the pressure on the inside of the rice cooker is controlled precisely to 1.2 times of the atmospheric pressure by a relief valve that is magnetic. This corresponds with an ideal water boiling point of 105C. The engineers insist this results in much more flavorful rice.
Industry observers say the new cooker is typical of Xiaomi’s approach. It combines a simple, sleek design with some smart additions, especially when utilizing the app, and a price that is less than the competition.
Explaining the “Mi Ecosystem”, Xiaomi’s engineers explain the company has invested in as many as 55 other companies, including two – Viomi and Zhimi – that make its water and air purifiers respectively and were “incubated” by Xiaomi. Another seven of these firms can boast annual sales of over $15 million.
In a press release, Xiaomi’s CEO and founder Lei Jun, announced that he desired the ecosystem to help promote Chinese manufacturing with the new concept of products “Made in China”.