Will smart kitchen appliances become essential in the future?Rebecca Hinshelwood
Smart technology has become increasingly common in kitchen appliances. It’s easy to think of this evolution as superfluous and treat it a bit like a shiny new toy. However, don’t forget that there was a time when a washing machine or dishwasher did not exist in the kitchen. Now these appliances are very much seen as essential. Since smart functionality is now more entwined in modern living, perhaps it’s time to start treating smart kitchen appliances seriously.
Let’s look at what most of us find essential in a modern kitchen now. After allocating funds for a high quality worktop of granite, quartz or marble, appliances are the next consideration in a kitchen refit budget. So which are absolutely essential?
For a kitchen to serve its purpose, it must have storage, the capacity to cook food, and to clean cookware. Of course, these requirements would be fulfilled by a sink, an Aga and a larder. However, nowadays most kitchens include a fridge, electric oven, washing machine and dishwasher. These make up the lions share of an appliance budget for a new kitchen.
Counter top appliances
When it comes to the appliances sitting on your stone worktop, what’s essential to one person may not be essential to another. Generally we’d expect to see a toaster and kettle. However some people can’t live without a coffee machine, while others would struggle without their sandwich toaster!
What makes a smart appliance?
Smart appliances have connectivity and intuitive programming in common. Of course, their exact functionality is very much down to the individual appliance. However, to be smart they must be able to connect to the internet, and sometimes Bluetooth too. Intelligent functionality means that a machine could alter its program based on data it has collected from being used. These features are as much about future proofing your home as they are about daily convenience.
Top 5 smart essential kitchen appliances
Looking at the main 5 kitchen appliances that employ smart functionality, then, how does it work in each case?
Most smart ovens will offer the ability to be controlled remotely. This is ideal if you are on the move and want to get the oven preheated or start cooking. The same goes for turning the oven off if you’re waylaid. Smartphone notifications will prevent you from forgetting about a timer and can even advise or adapt cooking times! Voice controls mean that you won’t have to balance oven use with food prep. There is even integrated content, so recipes can be sent to the oven and the correct temperature set. All of this looks set to be the new way that we use our ovens, so it’s worth investing in this technology.
Switching on and off is clearly not a major feature of a fridge freezer. However, smart connectivity remains key in the future fridge. The smart fridge embraces its traditional purpose to house notes, lists and family correspondence. With a large LCD screen on the front of the door, users can access connected calendars, messages and internet browsing. Door sensor alarms have evolved to send notifications to your phone and include a function to automatically open the door when someone stands in front of it. Inside, cameras give access to check the contents remotely to make sure you never forget something on the weekly shop, and use by dates can be logged.
More and more of us see our microwaves as an essential appliance in the kitchen. We use it to cook, reheat, sterilise and defrost. Voice control enhances the convenience of a standard microwave, and wifi connectivity increases the range of its use. Smart microwaves include an LED touchscreen and barcode scanning function. This allows the machine to automatically download correct cooking instructions to follow to prepare your food. Smart microwaves can collect data from your routines to suggest personalised quick settings. Your smart microwave can generate relevant web based content such as recipes and play instructional videos on the LED screen. Don’t forget that the most sophisticated microwaves offer a range of cooking functions, including toasting, crisping, browning, and even air-frying foods. In addition, moisture sensors monitor the cooking process to prevent food from drying out and overcooking.
Again, connectivity is key for this smart appliance. Tools such as remote starting, stopping and status checks, streamline the process. It’s all about making the appliance work for you, so some smart dishwashers will select the cycle based on your deadline. Voice controls mean that you can set the appliance whist in a rush, or on the go around the home. You can set to receive notifications of low rinse aid or salt levels to ensure your shopping list is up to speed. Intelligent programming is a strong feature for this appliance, with sensors amending the cycle depending on what’s inside and how dirty it is. This helps to limit the energy usage of the appliance, making it more eco-friendly.
5 Washing Machine
Similar to dishwashers, connectivity and remote programming are the central smart features here. Starting the load and pausing the load can be done from your phone. However, there’s no escaping the manual load and unload! They will, however, lightly tumble a load every couple of minutes to avoid it sitting stagnant if you’re out of the home at the end of a cycle.
What about those smaller appliances that we generally find on the worktop, or stored away under the counter? Yes, these can be smart too. Indeed they are often a more accessible way to incorporate smart technology in our kitchens. Items like scales, blenders, kettles, coffee machines, toasters and thermometers can all connect to your wifi. This allows them to offer functions like voice control, content sharing and remote settings.
It’s likely that we will all become more used to operating our kitchen appliances with smart technology in future years. While your stone worktops remain classic and durable for a lifetime, it’s important not to get left behind with the technology!