Cooking with iPads and other tablet computers is on the rise. But what if a slip of the saute pan leaves that $500 gadget Wi-Fried?
Enter the growing market of wraps, stands and shields designed to make sure that floury hands and splattering pans don't turn into a recipe for techno disaster.
One solution is disposable, clear covers, such as Clever Wraps. You slide your device inside and, voila, grease, water and other undesirables stay out.
Clever Wraps cofounder Karen McElaney says the idea began with a desire to protect gear from kids, not cooks. She and her business partner had active teens who were apt to drop their phones and other handheld devices in snow, surf, etc.
They tried putting the gadgets in clear plastic bags, but that didn't work well since the bags tended to slip and the gadgets would end up getting pulled out.
"It just came to us one day, `What if the bag for the device fit perfectly?'" says McElaney.
The result was a product called Ringer Wraps, which has since morphed into Clever Wraps and includes a line of clear, plastic wraps that don't interfere with touchscreens or Bluetooth technology, while making sure that gadget-loving cooks won't have to cry over spilled milk.
The wraps were designed for single-use, though depending on what happens in the kitchen they can be wiped down and reused.
Among those closely following the rise of tablets in the kitchen are the staff of Epicurious.com, the online recipe site.
"We've been fascinated by the adoption of the devices and the app downloads and the speed with which they have been downloaded," says Beth Ann Eason, senior vice president and general manager at Conde Nast, which oversees Epicurious.com.
Epicurious, which has the popular EPI recipe app, has been researching how customers are accessing recipes and found a significant increase in tablet use in the early evening when cooks might be expected to be in the kitchen.
Tablet guards vary widely in price and some food bloggers vote for a plain, sealable plastic bag, which may not be the slickest solution around but is low cost.
The plethora of protectors plays into a huge market of products intended to protect your gadgetry, says Scott Stein, senior editor at CNET.
Casez in particular are big, possibly because some of the new devices can be delicate.
In general, it's a good idea to get protection for your device, "especially if you're using it near anything liquid."
Other gadget protectors available include Chef Sleeve, created after Santiago Merea watched his wife bake with her iPad. The apps and connectivity were great, but "I noticed that she had to stop by the sink and wash her hands every time she went from the food to the iPad and vice versa. That was a lot of hand washing! So I figured there had to be a better solution."
He tried using a gallon-sized freezer bag, but found that the bag was too big and the plastic not clear enough. So he started researching and came up with a clear plastic that is recyclable. The product packaging can double as a stand.
And from Fuse comes an Antibacterial Screen Guard made of a material that is hostile to germs and protects against fingerprints and grime.
Gear for your gear, it just might keep you and your gadgetry out of the soup.
Chef Sleeve: http://www.chefsleeve.com
Clever Wraps: http://www.cleverwraps.com