The Evolution Of Smart Screens In The Kitchen
Updated: Jan 16
Back in September 2017, we wrote about Amazon's Echo Show and why it is a game-changer in the kitchen. At the time, smart speakers were taking off, but smart screens had yet to do so. It was rumoured that Google was working on its own smart screen, codenamed 'Manhattan'. Samsung and Drop were amongst the few companies already leveraging the benefits of a screen in the kitchen, with Samsung's Family Hub acting as a smart organiser for busy families.
A lot has changed since September 2017. Screens have emerged as the next big thing in the smart kitchen. Multiple companies announced plans to integrate screens into the smart kitchen earlier this year at CES, Google included.
The benefits of a screen in the kitchen are numerous. The kitchen is at the heart of family life, and for decades families have used calendars and fridge doors to keep track of appointments, activities and more. It's no surprise that technology can help people do this more seamlessly - it's more surprising that it hasn't been done much sooner. While anything that helps organise our lives is a good thing, we're more excited about the benefits of smart screens for home cooks. More than 50% of early adopters of the Amazon Echo kept their device in the kitchen, many presumably hoping for a hands-free cooking experience. And while the Echo does provide such an experience, it has one major drawback - food is visual. A screen provides a visual aid to cooks, and the ones that are integrated with smart speakers provide the best of both worlds.
While Google hasn't followed Amazon in releasing its own smart speaker, it has partnered with well-known technology brands such as Lenovo, LG, and Sony who all announced their own Google Assistant-powered smart speakers at CES. Google may not have released its own smart speaker, but the Google Assistant team is firmly focused on creating a guided cooking platform that works for home cooks, and smart screens are clearly a vital part of that strategy.
These Amazon and Google-powered smart screens act as countertop cooking companions in the kitchen, but the counter is just the beginning of the evolution of smart speakers. Global smart appliance brands such as GE Appliances, LG and Whirlpool have joined Samsung in integrating screens into their appliances, particularly fridges. And while it makes sense to add a screen to a fridge for many reasons, GE Appliance's entry into the smart screen race really caught our eye. GE unveiled an above-stove smart home hub with a 27-inch screen and in-built ventilation. This clever move from GE enables home cooks to view recipes and recipe videos while they are cooking without the need to move away from the stove. With a $600 price tag, this represents the mid-point between more expensive smart refrigerators and more budget-friendly smart speakers.
Smart screens haven't exactly taken off in the way that smart speakers have. It's worth remembering though that while the Amazon Echo debuted in 2015, it was only towards the end of 2017 that widespread adoption of smart speakers actually happened, fuelled mainly by heavy discounts from Amazon and Google. Another issue is that many of the planned smart screens that debuted at CES have yet to be released. (Update 01/08/18: Lenovo has released its Google Assistant smart display and the reviews are good.)
While we wait to see whether consumers are ready for more integrated screens in the kitchen rather than tablets or smartphones, smart appliance manufacturers are already looking beyond physical screens to create a more seamless visual cooking experience. Panasonic's culinary answer to Google Glasses is still at prototype stage with no immediate plans for release, but reviews from SXSW suggest that it could be more than just a gimmick. Of course, one of the benefits of Panasonic's concept is that the information is literally right there in front of your eyes, and they are not alone. The idea of presenting information when and where you need it is something that has also been embraced by Whirlpool.
The future of the kitchen is undoubtedly visual and undeniably exciting.
If you're a smart appliance manufacturer in the process of creating a smart screen for the kitchen, get in touch to discuss the benefits of our tried and tested recipe content. We'd love to chat.