How Voice Technology Is Opening Up A Whole World Of Culinary Possibilities In The Kitchen
Updated: Jun 4
At the 2019 Electrolux Future Kitchen event in Stockholm, David Cronström spoke about the value that voice is adding to the kitchen, and how advancements in AI are bringing a voice and a brain to the heart of the home. It's true that many consider the kitchen the heart of their homes. It's where we cook, eat and entertain. Smart kitchen technology should enhance this experience rather than detract from it, and when designed with the consumer in mind, voice technology can do just that.
Source: Recipe Guru
The concept of combining heart, brain and voice to create a smarter kitchen experience appeals to us. There is a temptation when designing smart kitchen appliances to put too much focus on the smart and not enough on what consumers truly want. There is merit in creating a highly automated experience. A not-insignificant cohort of consumers wants to eat well with minimal effort. Dinner at the touch of a button appeals to such consumers. Widespread adoption of smart appliances though relies on keeping the needs of the average home cook in mind.
This is where voice comes in. Rather than taking over the cooking process, voice technology lends a helping hand, guiding busy home cooks and acting as a virtual sous chef. While smart appliance adoption has been slow, smart speakers have captured the imagination of consumers, with almost a quarter of US households owning a smart speaker. Not just that, but almost 42% of smart speaker users keep their device in the kitchen, indicating a desire for a smarter kitchen experience. One criticism of the smart kitchen we've come across is that it takes the joy out of cooking. What voice technology does is enhance that joy by taking care of the little annoyances that detract from the experience.
The hands-free aspect of voice in the kitchen is always touted as the main benefit - no more scrolling through your phone with flour-covered hands. This is not the only benefit. The guided cooking element of voice technology gives novice cooks the confidence to try new recipes and encourages them to spend more time cooking at home and less time eating out. Similarly, it gives more experienced cooks the confidence to attempt and master more complicated recipes. It makes the process more efficient by encouraging home cooks to prepare the ingredients as they're read out. It promotes multitasking, enabling cooks to listen to the next step while they cook. It keeps track of multiple named timers rather than setting them across multiple devices. It also keeps track of grocery lists, meaning you can add ingredients as you run out. What ties all these benefits together is that they enhance the cooking experience rather than taking over.
The really interesting thing about voice technology though is its ability to create a truly connected kitchen experience. By launching Google Assistant and Alexa-enabled smart appliances, appliance manufacturers are creating a voice-controlled experience that begins with recipe inspiration (via companies like Drop, SideChef and Recipe Guru) and ends with switching off your oven using just your voice. Niels Munksgaard of Electrolux commented at Smart Kitchen Summit that Electrolux is in the taste business, not the appliance business. Combining this focus on flavour with innovative ideas that make the process more convenient and enjoyable illustrates that the likes of Electrolux understand what their customers truly crave. Voice technology is simply a path to a more enjoyable kitchen experience and better meals.
For us, a truly connected kitchen means cross-brand appliances working together in harmony to help home cooks put a delicious dinner on the table. While that level of collaboration between brands might be a little optimistic, by embracing Google Assistant and Alexa-powered voice control, appliance manufacturers are opening up a whole world of culinary possibilities in the kitchen. In these early days of smart kitchen adoption, this may be the encouragement consumers need to get connected.