In addition to the home of the future, we are entering the age of the smart kitchen. More and more electronic devices and appliances are acquiring the ability to connect to the Internet. The world of home automation is one area revolutionized by the growing “Internet of Things” trend. If your house is equipped with an home automation system, you can control lights, shades, thermostats, and now even kitchen appliances no matter your location.
An Outgrowth of the Smart Home
With the growth in home automation and “smart home” technology over the past few years, it stands to reason that the kitchen would become another area of these innovations. Homemakers desire added simplicity and efficiency to their kitchen activities and a host of newfangled appliances helps to give it to them. Even the designs of these latest smart appliances feature a sleek modern simplicity that belies their added functionality.
Internet connectivity is at the root of many of these kitchen innovations. Data from the industry analyst group, Allied Business Intelligence, predicts that the number of Internet connected devices will grow to 30 billion by the end of this decade. And many of those devices are used for the storage and preparation of food.
A Closer Look at the Smart Kitchen
What kinds of devices are typical in today’s Internet-connected kitchen? A new oven produced by Dacor allows you to control the cooking process from your Android-powered smartphone over the Wi-Fi network in your house. Getting a text that tells you when your meal is ready? That’s typical functionality provided by the smart kitchen!
The best modern appliances combine Wi-Fi or Internet connectivity with the latest in technology features. An excellent example is a new refrigerator from LG featuring a LCD screen that allows you to glance inside without having to open the fridge itself. The refrigerator comes with a smartphone app helps to track food inventories and expiration dates, making sure you don’t run out of a valuable item needed for tonight’s recipe.
Not to be outdone, a refrigerator model from Samsung offers essentially the same functionality — Internet connectivity, a LCD screen, and access to kitchen management apps on the LCD screen or from your smartphone or tablet computer. These extra capabilities come at a cost, however, with both designs retailing anywhere from around $2,500 to higher. The smart kitchen isn’t necessarily the cheap kitchen!
A Modern Take on Food Preparation
Food storage isn’t the only area of the kitchen undergoing a technology renaissance; actually cooking your meals is becoming a smarter process in the modern age. New innovations in smart stove tops and cookers are making meal preparation easier and more efficient. Panasonic recently introduced a new stove top that features sensor technology that monitors the current cooking temperature; automatically increasing power when needed, like after cooler ingredients are added to the pot.
Bluetooth connectivity is being seen in more kitchen appliances, especially in meat thermometers. The iGrill is a Bluetooth-enabled thermometer that allows you to check the doneness of a steak or any other cut of meat on the grill while staying seated in front of your TV. Expect to pay around $70 for the added convenience.
Traditional kitchen devices like slow cookers, food scales, coffee makers, tea kettles, and more are seeing similar innovations around network connectivity through WiFi or Bluetooth. Allowing mobile device control and monitoring of the cooking process is the main benefit from this newfangled networking, although the SmartConnect food scale from Escali comes with an app that provides the nutritional information by weight for the food item on the scale. The smart kitchen helps you watch your weight as well!
As home automation and appliance networking becomes more prevalent, expect more smart appliances to be developed with their prices dropping after a critical mass is reached. Google and Apple are taking this trend seriously, so it is reasonable to assume the software will stay in step with the continued hardware advances. Cooking in the 21st Century will never be the same!
Photo Credit: Wayne Homes