Things have been heating up in the smart kitchen for a while now, and while the focus has been primarily on large appliances such as smart refrigerators, the countertop is where the smart kitchen gets really interesting. With many home cooks dealing with limited counter space, this is a part of the smart kitchen industry that is highly competitive. Competition like this is good for the consumers. Not only do consumers have access to a wide range of countertop smart appliances, but smart appliance manufacturers need to step up their innovation game in order to stand out from the crowd. Some stand out for all the wrong reasons - Juicero comes to mind. Others stand out because they have created genuinely useful products for time-poor, space-deficient or simply tech-savvy consumers.
For those that are lacking in kitchen space, countertop ovens can actually help create more space in the oven. What these countertop smart ovens set out to do is exactly what your regular oven does, but in a more compact, smarter package. What this means is that they can generally replace your regular oven, and in turn can free up extra space for storage. Companies like Tovala, which Tyson Foods recently invested in, promise consistent results. Their recipes are created with their smart oven in mind, meaning the lack of consistency sometimes associated with regular ovens is not an issue. Add in the option to purchase pre-prepared meals for use with the smart oven and you're left with an all-in-one countertop solution for home cooks. Tovala is not alone in this space. The June Oven, which Amazon has invested in, also promises consistent results, with tried and tested presets and premium recipe offerings, and small kitchen appliance giants Breville have also jumped on board with their Smart Oven Air.
Precision cooking is the one factor that unites most smart countertop appliances. The ability to achieve professional, restaurant-style results with minimal effort appeals strongly to tech-savvy food lovers, and one aspect of the professional kitchen that has made its way into the home is sous-vide. As unlikely as it seems, smart sous vide appliances are amongst the most accessible of all emerging smart kitchen appliances. Companies like Nomiku and ChefSteps have created compact sous vide devices that can be used to cook anything from the perfect steak to a decadent crème brûlée. These connected countertop devices are easily stored and come with a bank of trustworthy recipes and cooking recommendations, perfect for time-poor foodies and families alike. With limited space for countertop smart appliances, partnering with complementary smart appliances is a winning strategy, and ChefSteps has done just that. This partnership with Hestan Cue, a countertop smart cooking system promises a seamless transition from sous vide to sear via integrated recipes. Mainstream adoption of smart home devices such as the Nest have benefitted from integration with smart speakers like the Amazon Echo, and in the kitchen a connected approach is just as important.
Perhaps the most accessible of all is the Drop Scale. Unlike a sous vide device or smart induction hob, many more consumers are likely to already own a non-smart kitchen scales. What Drop does is offer step by step instructions and easy, clear measuring through its connected scales and app. Drop has also jumped on board with partnering with other hardware manufacturers. Its partnership with Bosch integrates the Drop app and scales with Bosch ovens via Home Connect.
Drop CEO Ben Harris summed up the benefit of smart kitchen appliances perfectly. “Up until a couple years ago, you buy a product, it gets worse as the months and the years go on. Now with connected appliances, they get better.” With smart countertop appliances continuing to invest and upgrade their software and recipe selection, things are heating up on the smart kitchen countertop.