What’s Cooking in the Kitchen of the Future Melanie Zanoza Bartelme | December 2015, Volume 69, No.12

Interconnected smart appliances, 3-D printers, and touchscreen controls are just a few of the technological tools that the next generation of home cooks will use to simplify food preparation, create customized meal solutions, and produce far less waste.

Kitchen of the Future
When consumers head into the kitchen of the future, they’ll very likely be getting help from a new generation of smart appliances on things like reducing food waste, cooking to address their personal health profiles, and staying better connected to the origins of their food—issues that are important to consumers and the food industry. Even now, high-end refrigerators can extend the shelf life of produce, allowing consumers to waste less of it. And thanks to temperature probes and software programs, ovens can manage the entire cooking process without sacrificing quality, safety, or accuracy. Then there’s 3-D printing, which may soon allow busy parents to create fun foods covertly packed with the veggies their picky kids need.

In the kitchen of tomorrow, connectedness is key. These so-called smart appliances are connected via the Internet of Things (IoT), the network of objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that allows them to collect and exchange data. Basically, thanks to the IoT, all of the appliances within the home can “talk” to each other. “The trend of appliances being controlled by phones is now a reality as phones get smarter and become more integrated into personal lives by offering new ways to monitor and control things that are important to consumers, be it managing health and wellness, personal finance, home energy consumption—even preheating an oven,” says Brian Jones, director of marketing for appliance brands Sub-Zero and Wolf, Madison, Wis. “Homeowners want to manage and control their home features and appliances from anywhere they wish, be it on a command center in their home, on their phones or other devices in the home, or remotely.”

Plenty of today’s appliances already use this kind of technology, allowing consumers to turn their lights on when they wake up and tell their coffeemakers to begin brewing even before they’ve stepped out of bed. Sophisticated devices and systems such as Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s HomeKit can serve as the main hub of connected homes; using “if this, then that” (IFTTT) programs, consumers can set up “recipes” that make controlling these devices easier (Mintel 2015). For instance, using these rules, a consumer can instruct his lights to come on at sunset or use GPS to have his thermostat sense when he’s close to home and flip the heat on. In the future, companies plan to further these technologies and the capabilities of fridges, ovens, and other appliances to allow consumers to buy, store, cook, and clean up their meals as efficiently and conveniently as possible.