Smart kitchen technology has become increasingly prominent, relevant and accessible, as evidenced by the availability of smart fridges, plates, coffee makers, scales, cookers and more.
Our relationship with food is continually evolving. As an example, in the Table for Living—a Concept Kitchen 2025 prototype—a camera and projector are used to create an augmented reality, superimposing imagery on the user’s real world view. Bringing inanimate objects to life, we can explore flavor and food combinations or place ingredients on the table’s surface and receive information on how best to prepare them.
In line with this trend, Salone del Mobile 2016 presented FTK—Technology for the Kitchen, an event organized in collaboration with its biennial kitchen exhibition EuroCucina 2016. On display: the latest technology for “cooking” and living the kitchen space, embracing the innovative new dimension of “connectivity.”
Smart Kitchen Tech
In offering convenience, reducing energy consumption and placing an emphasis on sustainability, smart kitchen tech is increasingly looked upon with favor by consumers.
The Samsung Family Hub Smart Fridge is Wi-Fi-enabled with a 21.5″ LED touchscreen. It allows the user to internet shop directly and three inbuilt cameras enable remote access of its contents via a smartphone, so you know when to buy milk or a bottle of bubbly.
The SmartPlate™, a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled plate with mini cameras and weight sensors, alerts hungry individuals when serving too much food. The Smarter Coffee machine grinds and brews coffee on demand from the comfort of a smartphone or tablet.
The Drop Scale and its associated recipe app allow users to resize recipes, make substitutions and weigh as they go (then share the results on social media).
The new Snap “Air Quality Balancer” by Elica monitors and improves air quality at home. Designed in partnership with Vodafone and IBM, Snap utilises its three sensors to measure air quality, temperature and humidity and is able to automatically activate the recirculation of air (particularly useful in a heated kitchen environment). Snap gets to know the home environment through continuous readings and is controlled using a connected app.
Connected Kitchen Brands
It was evident at EuroCucina 2016 that various kitchen brands are embracing the connected kitchen and building smart tech into their kitchen concepts.
At Italian kitchen manufacturer Cucine LUBE, the brand’s E-kitchen programme is an initiative aimed at developing a new kitchen environment, one where design, ergonomics and comfort are combined with smart tech functionality.
German-based manufacturer Miele introduced The Invisible Kitchen during Milan Design Week, a concept where “intuitive technology meets timeless design”. With the user at its centre, the kitchen acts as an “invisible” assistant and guide that is networked and convenient. The Invisible Kitchen is a place where ingenuity meets imagination and appeals to our emotions. “The long-term success of a brand such as Miele depends not on its product characteristics; it needs to fascinate and inspire [in the case of the ‘Invisible Kitchen’]”, says Dr. Axel Kniehl, Managing Director of Marketing and Sales at Miele.
Italian family-owned brand Candy affirms it is the first company to offer a complete range of household appliances with Wi-Fi connectivity. Its Candy simply-Fi app will connect washing machines, ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, hoods and induction hobs to a smartphone or tablet, enabling remote access and control. At Eurocucina 2016, Candy presented its revolutionary Candy WTC Watching, Touching, Cooking oven. The oven is controlled using a full touch door display and its preloaded video recipes can be watched directly on this door. An internal video camera allows users to watch a live feed of cooking in progress on their smartphone or tablet.
The Whirlpool Corporation presented the “Interactive Kitchen of the Future” at EuroCucina 2016. This concept simulates a day in the life of a smart kitchen, showing how Whirlpool’s smart tech interacts with the “Internet of Things” and will help us to cook, clean and care in the future.
German kitchen brand Tielsa, founded as a kitchen carpentry shop in 1927, today builds connected kitchens centred around movement and networking. With tielsa:connect, owners can control their Tielsa kitchen using a smartphone and digitalSTROM (a leading provider of smart homes). Preinstalled in every Tielsa kitchen, tielsa:connect comprises a box with a universal smart home interface. Owners can then use the tielsa-app or voice command to: control movement and height of hub modules, open/close cabinet slats, play music and adjust lighting.
Living for All
In an interview with the Examiner.com, Alberto Snaidero of Italian kitchen company Snaidero observed: “New technologies help users program the kitchen to adapt according to the specifications of each household member. […] send notifications when stored food [is] about to expire, alerting you about energy consumption levels or warn you about appliance malfunction and could contact manufacturers directly for repairs.”
This year celebrating its 70th birthday, Snaidero presented six new interpretations of home space at Eurocucina 2016. They included the kitchen models Opera, Look and First, each one mixing technology and functionality.
Presently, Snaidero is leading the ‘Living for All’ Kitchen project, an industrial research and development initiative whose partners include business groups and universities. The aim is to improve quality of life at home by using new home automation devices integrated within the kitchen. Opportunities include: developing a facial recognition device that identifies who can access specific areas of the kitchen; the provision of real-time information on kitchen energy consumption, and touchscreen access to a network of external services such as shopping and home delivery.
Up Next for Kitchen Tech
The Smart Kitchen Summit takes place from 5th-6th October 2016 in Seattle, USA and is described as: “the leading event dedicated to exploring the intersection of tech, food, design and commerce in the connected kitchen.” Launched in 2015, the Summit is designed for key players in the food, appliance, home and consumer product sectors. Banding together pertinent startups, leaders and innovators, the Smart Kitchen Summit is a place to converse about and exchange views on the relationships between tech, housewares, kitchen design, food, cooking and commerce.
With tech events such as “FTK – Technology for the Kitchen” and the “Smart Kitchen Summit”, it is clear that smart kitchen technology will become a daily reality of the future. Indeed the limits of kitchen technology show no bounds.