While our kitchens may not have reached Jetson-style ease quite yet, we’re also not too far off, with smart technology already being incorporated in all of today’s cutting-edge appliances. In addition to gadgets like Roomba vacuums and voice-controlled lights, every device in your cooking space can now be computer chip-connected and controlled, providing the most hands-off experience to date.
Refrigerators That Plan Your Meals
Not only are there refrigerators on the market with interior cameras that let you see their contents without opening a single door, but many of those same units also connect to your smartphone, allowing you to view your inventory at the grocery store when you don’t remember how many eggs you have left.
This year, German-based Bosch made its Home Connect Refrigerator even smarter. Equipped with two cameras, one to scan the main interior and another to look at the door shelf items, this high-tech fridge comes with one more extraordinary feature: the ability to recommend meals based on the ingredients you have inside. Currently available in Europe, Bosch teamed up with Chefling, a meal and recipe planning app company, to allow users to scan in barcodes as they put food into the fridge. The refrigerator keeps track of those items, and the Chefling app uses them to compile a list of possible recipes.
Of course, since manually adding barcodes and inputting items by name can be tedious, the Bosch-Chefling partnership is currently working to add food recognition software to the mix and automate the entire process.
Ovens You Can Preheat With Your Phone
Oven tech today has evolved to combine convection microwaves, air-frying ovens, speed cookers, and steam units. Not only do you have your choice of cooking styles in just one model these days, but many ovens also have smartphone integration capabilities. Yes, practically all major brands have appliances today that can be preheated and turned off with an app. LG’s Smart ThinQ app, for example, allows you to remotely adjust the temperature or see how much time is left on your cook.
Faucets That Know Your Voice
Touchless faucets have been around for several years now, but the latest updates allow users to turn the water on and off with just their voice. Wisconsin-based plumbing brand Kohler has just such a unit that even allows you to customize the water amount to your specific recipe. For example, you could program the faucet via your smartphone to dispense exactly six quarts of water when you call out “spaghetti.”
Dishwashers That Open With a Knock and Order Their Own Detergent
Dishwasher upgrades in recent years have included quieter decibels and crystal-clear drying, but in the kitchen of the future, the only thing you’ll have to do is actually load the dishes. For example, Miele’s G7000 line of washers use Knock2Open technology. “After knocking twice on the front panel of the fully integrated Miele dishwasher, the door opens by about four inches completely on its own using an ingenious opening mechanism,” the German company’s website says.
Several of its models can also close themselves as well. In fact, “a slight contact between the door and the appliance is all it takes to activate the motorized door closing feature.” And integrated dishwashers like Miele’s also keep track of their own detergent needs, automatically ordering more online when supply runs low.
Stoves That Sense When You Put on a Pot
Admittedly, ranges may be the last kitchen appliance to get a smart upgrade. Control of open flames and touchable heat is harder to turn over to a phone alone. However, stoves do come in plenty of high-tech varieties today. Induction ranges can sense the difference between a metal pot and a human hand being placed on their surface. And Thermador, the luxury appliance company based in California, has a sophisticated unit with a simmer so low you can melt chocolate over it with just a paper plate.
A truly revolutionary change may be on the way though. German brand Grundig is working on virtual user experience technology (VUX) to eliminate knobs and buttons altogether, instead projecting cook zones and temperature settings on the surface when in use. That same VUX automation can be used to project recipes onto kitchen walls for more hands-free help.
With the aid of smartphones and integrated tech, the hands-free kitchen of the future is already on its way into our homes. Now all we have left to dream about are self-cleaning counters and robots that put away the groceries for us.