With terms like “Smart-Homes” and the “Internet of Things” thrown around alot these days, we can assume the kitchens of our future are likely to incorporate a fair amount of technology and automation. However, exactly what can we expect from that technology? We’ve done some research on the direction that kitchen tech is taking, and here are some of our findings…
Peering into the Future of Kitchen Technology
As the world continues to shift its ideas about sustainability, efficiency, and environmental responsibility, the focus of engineering and design follows that lead. This list includes some of the ideas that experts foresee that direction taking us by the year 2040—in the kitchen, that is. Whirlpool recently developed this concept kitchen for what they see coming for the future:
This kitchen-tech movement is already well underway, with more and more homeowners seeking advanced technology for the heart of their home. “It seems that about half of the customers I see desire some type of technology-driven or smart appliance features in their new appliances.” says Eileen Sroka, Kitchen Designer with Designer Appliances.
The in-sink dishwasher
We know what you’re thinking…why didn’t you think of that?? There are a few instances of in-sink dishwasher appliances that are currently available for those with the disposable income, but in the future, experts believe this will be more prevalent. Whirlpool envisions an in-sink dishwasher that will have sensors to determine if the dishes are dirty, when the unit is full, and ready to run. It will also be aware of when you leave the home, and automatically close and run itself, if it has any dishes that need a cleaning. Next, they just need to figure out how it’s going to put the dishes away for us!
The barcode reading microwave
Genius! In the future, measures will be taken to prevent food waste, and overcooked food is definitely a target for the reduction of said waste. Not sure how long it takes to heat something? No problem! The microwave of the future will have technology that reads the UPC barcode on your food item’s package, know what’s inside, and cook it accordingly for you.
The interactive display backsplash
Fully integrated with all of your devices, calendar schedules, health profile, contacts, and more, the backsplash of the future will be there for so much more than aesthetics. Forward thinkers envision the backsplash as a customizable, interactive touch screen display that will assist you in cooking and preparing foods, present your daily schedule, help you stay on task, play sounds from the baby monitor in another room, present reminders based on your activity and habits, and play visual and/or audio entertainment.
The intelligent tabletop
Another advancement that we can expect is visual projection technology. Experts have imagined an integrated kitchen cooktop table with an overhead camera and projection system that can visually interpret the items on the table, as well as your movements. It then projects suggestions, recipe steps, and guides to assist you in preparing a meal. Simply place your pots, pans, and containers directly onto the table's surface, and they will be automatically heated to perfection.
The range to do it all
Has your future mug of coffee gotten cold? Well, your future self can just place it right onto the cook-top surface where your range used to be. The coffee will be warmed back up to the perfect temperature for you. This component can be an alternative to the tabletop mentioned above, or it can be integrated with it, as well as the interactive backsplash display and appliances in your kitchen. We'll be able to control this system remotely, too. So, tasks like preheating the oven, having ice made, or thawing frozen food can be performed by the kitchen while you are on your way home from work.
This range can identify the item placed onto the surface and cook it accordingly. It also has data about you and your family’s health profiles, so it can make suggestions to optimize the food you eat for the most health benefits. It will also remind you to take prescriptions and vitamins - we don’t know about you, but we’re hoping this technology arrives sooner than 20 years!
The combination fridge + pantry
In the year 2040, the days of forgotten items going bad in the back of your fridge will be long gone! The pantry and refrigerator will be merged, with the wall and doors removed, for an open shelf and easy to view food storage solution. Specialized containers will be made to use with the open pantry to keep food items cooled or at room temperature, whichever will keep it freshest for longer. The intention here is to reduce wasted food, so there will be less food to store. It is also projected that groceries will be automatically and/or on-demand delivered by self-driving vehicles and drones. This will enable us to keep less food stored, which not only prevents food from going uneaten, but also allows for higher quality (less chemically preserved) food.
Early instances of this advanced technology are already available in the market. Currently, the Smart Fridge does many things that engineers have planned for the coming intelligent cook-tops and backsplashes. However, we are only at the beginning of the “smart kitchen” journey, and we can expect to see even greater advances in the interconnectedness of technology with our lives. The kitchen of the future is on track to help us manage our busy schedules, maintain our health, increase our efficiency, make us better cooks, remind us of things that slip through the cracks, and more... all while simultaneously reducing our waste and carbon footprint. We must say, the future of kitchens looks pretty bright!