Digital innovations are bringing surprise and sophistication to kitchen creations.
Over the past few years, the “connected home” has spilled over from the living room and office and into the kitchen, where the latest products help chefs close the cookbook forever.
“Kitchen smart technology seems to revolve around recipe assistance,” said CNET Editor Andrew Gebhart, after the Consumer Electronics Show in January. “More and more appliances want to help you pick what to cook and guide you through the process of cooking it.”
Technologies are bringing new conveniences to the kitchen.
Imagine having a smart oven filled with tasty recipes. The new Miele 48-inch Dual Fuel Range, controlled via a touch screen panel or even a mobile app, offers more than 100 different cooking programs and recipes at your fingertips.
Miele is working with IBM to develop an even more detailed recipe database called Chef Watson. In the vein of Google Recipes, its WiFi-enabled internal computer will suggest a recipe based simply on available ingredients. It offers up caloric values and suggested cooking times and temperatures.
Similar smart attributes carry over to the outside patio with the Lynx grill, whose physical prototype is making trade show rounds this year. The Lynx grill is voice-activated, ready to adjust time and temperature based on the type of meat or vegetables and method of preparation. The grill even learns cooking preferences — say if dad likes his steak well done and mom likes it medium rare — and it will send a text to your smartphone when food is ready.
For the more casual gourmand, Panasonic has a smart solution for reheating leftovers with the Genius Prestige. It’s built with “cyclonic wave” technology, which projects more evenly distributed microwaves so food gets cooked at all angles.
The maker movement introduced 3D-printed versions of everything from car parts to human prosthetics, so it was just a matter of time before 3D printing entered the kitchen. XYZPrinting’s 3D Food Printer specializes in molding cookie dough into any size and shaping it into anything. Though the limited scope and hefty price tag suggest a niche market for now, it’s not hard to imagine a creative baker having a field day.
For high-tech home-brewing, PicoBrew offers the Zymatic. It claims to produce a perfectly brewed beer at the touch of a button. Zymatic offers a solution to the home-brewer’s biggest struggle — consistency. About the size of a microwave, the Zymatic features 100 beer recipes with plenty of memory for custom recipes, and can recreate the same brew every time.
If robots can drive a car and help children with learning disabilities in the classroom, they certainly should be able to cook well, too! Though still squarely inside the development stage, Sereneti’s COOKI aims to offer a helping hand — literally. The COOKI stirs and prepares ingredients for recipes. Other motions such as automated slicing, blending and more will be coming later.
Appliance giant Whirlpool dazzled the industry with the “kitchen of the future” prototype 2.0 in early 2015. Whirlpool is developing a touch-screen cooktop with induction-powered burners and social media integration within the kitchen software for recipe ideas and sharing. According to The Verge, Whirlpool predicts the concept will see the market within five years.
At CES Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced the collaboration of Intel RealSense technology with the Food Network. The 3D camera technology allows laptops and all-in-one touchscreen PCs to respond to gesture and voice control, solving the awkward problem of referencing recipe directions and ingredient lists with fingers soaked in oil, butter or chicken guts.
The latest smart kitchen toys aim to lessen the cook’s workload, produce consistent results and integrate cloud and app technology while offering sleek and minimal styling.
As for where the connected kitchen might go next, Gebhart has his wish list ready.
“Better tech to help keep track of what foods you have would be great. Some fridges will let you enter in each item individually, but that’s a giant pain,” he explained. “Having a system for scanning in a receipt and letting the fridge (or cupboards) take it from there would help this recipe management software go a bit further.”
And a self-cleaning kitchen wouldn’t be too bad either.
Michael C. Powell writes about technology, music, food and the issues that surround them. You can find his work in media such as The Guardian, IMPOSE, Consequence of Sound, and many others. Even more often, you can find him being absurd on Twitter @kbloggins.