Is Smart Kitchen Technology Meeting the Needs of the Regular Home Cook?
Updated: Jun 12, 2020
This week many of the top innovators in the smart kitchen space gathered in Seattle for Smart Kitchen Summit 2018. While we couldn't attend this year, we followed along on Twitter with interest. Smart Kitchen Summit is an opportunity to take stock of what's happening in the smart kitchen space, and this year the role of recipes, the future of grocery and the reimagining of cooking appliances were amongst the topics discussed.
This time around though, it was a Tweet by Paula Kennedy that stood out to us:
This is a thought-provoking point. Although a single Tweet from an event such as Smart Kitchen Summit lacks context, we've thought about it in the context of the smart kitchen space as a whole. There's a lot of chatter about using smart kitchen technology to create restaurant-quality meals at home, but for the regular home cook, midweek meals are about convenience and flavour. Is this something that is being considered by smart appliance manufacturers?
Is smart kitchen technology meeting the needs of the regular home cook?
For the most part, we think so. Not just that, but companies in the smart kitchen space don't see quick and easy home cooking and restaurant-quality as mutually exclusive.
Take Hestan Smart Cooking as an example. Their Hestan Cue guided cooking system promises precise results every time. They achieve this through a combination of smart cookware, a smart induction burner and a connected guided cooking app. The guided cooking aspect of the Hestan Cue enables home cooks to maximise their time in the kitchen, moving efficiently from step to step, and getting a perfectly cooked dinner on the table in no time. What we like about Hestan is that it seems that the aim is to give home cooks the confidence to cook like a chef, whether they're cooking a midweek family meal or a special weekend treat. Their recent partnership with GE to create induction cooktops and ranges for the Café appliance line illustrates that Hestan is serious about providing precise guided cooking opportunities on a larger scale and to a wider audience.
Another clever feature of guided cooking systems such as the Hestan Cue is its ability to adjust the temperature accordingly as the app guides you through the recipe. If you've ever spent 20 minutes preparing a meal only to burn it towards the end of the cooking time, you'll appreciate why this is an important detail. It means that if busy family life diverts your focus away from the stove for a moment, your dinner should be safe. Hestan is not alone in this. The 2nd generation June oven was recently released, and this countertop smart appliance can also adjust the temperature automatically in order to achieve perfect results. Not only that but its preset cooking programmes enable the oven to move between different cooking modes, meaning that it's essentially hands-free cooking. Its this aspect of smart kitchen technology that will appeal to busy home cooks. Slow cookers are already popular because they allow us to get dinner on the table quickly and with little effort, but there are limits to what can be cooked in them. Smart kitchen appliance manufacturers are applying the same time-saving properties of slow cookers to their appliances. Why stand by a stove overcooking some pork chops when your guided cooking system or smart oven can do most of the work for you while you get on with your busy life?
We don't build smart appliances, but we do work with manufacturers to bring their appliances to life through recipes. By providing fresh, seasonal and personalised recipe inspiration via connected apps, smart appliance manufacturers are helping home cooks at the point of discovery. Given that as many as 80% of Americans don't know what's for dinner by 4 pm, fresh recipe inspiration is a vital part of any smart appliance set up. We all fall back on our favourite recipes on a weekly basis, but there are times when fresh inspiration is required, and connected recipe apps from the likes of Drop (who have just announced a partnership with Electrolux) and Innit (who count GE amongst their partners) provide that inspiration.
More to do
Of course, it's early days for smart appliances, and there is more to be done in order to satisfy the requirements of home cooks. One issue smart appliance manufacturers have yet to fully solve is that most people already use go-to cookbooks and recipes that have been passed down through generations. A truly seamless smart kitchen experience should allow for this, and existing recipes should integrate easily with each platform and its functions. Another issue is that as the smart appliance space becomes more crowded, consumers will expect their appliances to work together. There are already examples of this - Hestan has partnered with ChefSteps. A collaborative approach such as this will benefit the end user and the manufacturers themselves. As with the voice-enabled ecosystems (are you a Google or an Alexa household?) consumers will be more likely to choose appliances that work in harmony with their existing appliances.
As smart appliance adoption increases and more data is available to manufacturers, the cooking experience will undoubtedly improve for the home cook. For now though, we feel that those in the smart kitchen space are doing a good job of combining convenience with perfection to create a seamless guided cooking experience at home.
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