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Can Technology Make a More Efficient Grocery List?

Hiku is the high-tech refrigerator magnet with a purpose
This Little Magnet Is Changing How You Shop for Groceries
Photo: Hiku Inc. 

Ever tell someone “we’re out of milk,” only to have it fall into the ether? Hiku hears you.

This tiny tech gadget keeps track of your entire grocery list and acts a bit like the Amazon Dash Button, but with a built-in bar code scanner, microphone and Wi-Fi support to compile all of those needs into one smartphone app. But is remembering to buy cookie dough really worth the $49 price tag? We give Hiku a whirl to find out.

Weighing in at less than three ounces, Hiku looks a lot like a refrigerator magnet. It even acts like one at times, clinging to most aluminum and sheet-metal surfaces (but not stainless steel). It’s durable, water resistant and has a rechargeable battery that promises up to two months of use.

Hiku is very easy to use. When someone scrapes the last morsel of Ben & Jerry’s out of the carton, just give Hiku a little squeeze, scan the bar code or say the name of the item aloud, and it gets instantly added to the Hiku companion app. As you compile a list, Hiku responds with a series of bleeps and bloops to let you know items are being recognized and saved.

Meanwhile, the app organizes your shopping list by aisle; you can edit or move around the grocery items to mimic the aisles in your local store. You can also make separate lists for specific events or stores. Then, as you shop, checking off an item is as simple as swiping. And if you’re not in the mood to, you know, leave the house, just take advantage of Hiku’s Peapod and Walmart.com integration, and get your haul delivered.

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Hiku’s voice-recognition capabilities seem solid, save for an occasional word the device doesn’t understand (we said “hi” and saw “pie” pop up in our list—not that there’s anything wrong with that) or occasional bar code the scanner can’t seem to grasp. To fix the rare gaffe, just type in items manually or scan the bar code with your camera.

Now, there are similar apps that are free, like OurGroceries and Buy Me a Pie, but what makes the $49 Hiku a standout is its ability to involve everyone in the grocery-list experience. Instead of kids just barking out their favorite cereals du jour and expecting them to magically appear, now they can yell into the Hiku, which also offers the option to share lists through the app, email and iMessage.

Hiku’s few and minor quirks aside, here’s the verdict: The tiny, little gadget does, in fact, help to make a more efficient grocery list. We made fewer trips to buy food and felt confident we weren’t forgetting anything. Best of all, though, Hiku solves what’s potentially the most annoying thing about navigating the grocery store: actually finding the stuff you need.

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