A US company has developed a refrigerated microwave that can be controlled over the Internet or by mobile phone.

The technology, developed by Tonight’s Menu Intelligent Ovens (TMIO), enables a person to leave a meal in the fridge for the day and then a send a command over the net to start cooking so that the meal is ready to eat when the person returns home, reports BBC News Online.

“This provides the keystone appliance of the Internet kitchen,” David Mansbery, TMIO president, was quoted by the BBC as saying. “This will be the start of the future.”

The company has developed a prototype microwave oven to demonstrate the technology, which uses what the company calls a Peltier cooling device.

“It has two plates of metal over which you pass an electrical current and it either heats or cools,” explained Mansbery.

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“It was somewhat of a dumb appliance until we put our chips in it and turned it into a smart appliance,” he told the BBC.

The oven uses embedded web technology developed by Nasa. The US space agency developed the technology to operate experiments without the need of a built-in computer in each instrument.

The fact that the fridge-oven can be controlled over the Internet or via a mobile phone means that cooking time can be delayed, the temperature can be changed or the cooking order can be cancelled all together.

TMIO, which has been working on the fridge-oven for around six year, plans to build the ovens itself and sell them over the Internet for around US$2,000 each. The company expects to have the appliances ready by the end of the year.