Throughout history, inventions have evolved and shaped our at-home convenience—the remote made changing television channels easier, the microwave made heating leftovers faster, the telephone made communicating simpler.
This increasing convenience will continue in the future, but what will it look like? What will it mean for kitchen designs and the people who use kitchens? How will our relationship with food change as our kitchens change?
What does IKEA think?
IKEA and IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm, collaborated with design students from the Ingvar Kamprad Design Centre at Lund University and the Eindhoven University of Technology to predict scenarios for the future in kitchen design, called Concept Kitchen 2025.
Within the next ten years, they predict technology will come into play with our kitchen tables.
The future of food preparation surfaces will make us more confident cooks and reduce food waste. This technology, coined “The Table of Living”, comprises of a camera and projector placed above the table and an induction cooktop underneath the table surface. The camera and projector show recipes on the table surface and recognizes ingredients, assisting one on preparing a meal with what is available.
Refrigerators will be replaced by pantries, wasting less energy and making food visible when stored. Wooden shelves will have hidden sensors and smart, wireless induction cooling technology. Food will be kept fresh longer in terracotta storage boxes by maintaining temperature using the food’s packaging. The RFID sticker from food packaging will be placed on the outside of the container and the shelves will read the sticker’s storage instructions and adjust the temperature accordingly.
We will be more environmentally friendly (at least, that is the hope) within a decade—the goal is to come up with more efficient recycling and reusing systems. The CK 2025 predicts a compost unit attached to the sink that makes pucks of organic waste after being washed from the sink, blended, drained of water, then compressed. These pucks can then be picked up by the city. Another unit will deal with non-organic waste that will be organized, crushed, and scanned for what it is made of and for contamination. After, the waste will be packed and labeled for potential future use.
Kitchen designs in the future will also help us become more conscious and aware of our water use. A sink will have two drains—one for water that can be reused and the other for contaminated water that will reach sewage pipes for treatment.
Although the Concept Kitchen 2025 provides a vision rather than specific products, hopefully our kitchens will be technology hubs that reduce food waste, make cooking more intuitive, and help us help the environment in the future.
How Close Are We to That Vision?
Our kitchens now might not be as technologically advanced or environmentally friendly, but recent innovations are starting to change how we engage with cookware and food. Now, we can monitor, control, and cook without even being in the kitchen.
Quantumrun takes a look at a few of these gadgets and devices that could shape the future of cooking.
Appliances That Help You Wake Up
Josh Renouf, an industrial designer, created the Barisieur, a coffee-alarm device that wakes you up with a cup of coffee already prepared. Theoretically, the idea is to have an induction-heating compartment to boil water, while other units would hold sugar, coffee grounds, and milk for the individual to mix their own brew of coffee for his or her self. This coffee alarm, unfortunately, is not available on the market to consumers at this point in time.
Appliances That Help Measure
PantryChic’s store and dispense system organizes ingredients in canisters and measures and dispenses amounts into bowls. There is Bluetooth connectivity for long-distance dispensing and conversion from volume to weight is possible.
Unlike the PantryChic, which has no recipes programmed into the device as of now, Drop’s Smart Kitchen Scale measures ingredients and helps avid learners with recipes. It is a dual system, consisting of a scale and an app, through Bluetooth on one’s iPad or iPhone. The app can assist with measurements and recipes, providing a walk-through of measuring ingredients based on recipes, even scaling down servings if one is running out of an ingredient. Photographs of each step are also provided.
Appliances That Adjust Temperature
Meld’s smart stove knob and temperature clip is an add-on to already existing kitchen controls. There are three components: a smart knob that replaces the existing manual knob on a stove, a temperature gauge one can clip onto cookware that’s being used on the stove, and a downloadable app that monitors and adjusts the temperature based on the clip’s sensor and the desired temperature. The app also offers a list of recipes and the capability of users manually creating their own recipes to share. Useful for slow cooking, poaching, frying, and brewing beer, co-founder Darren Vengroff claims that the Meld smart knob and clip is “the easiest solution to help [one] be creative and confident in everything [he or she] cook[s]”. This device reduces the amount of time lingering near the stove, but fear remains of leaving the stove on while leaving one’s home.
iDevice’s Kitchen Thermometer monitors temperature within a 150-foot Bluetooth range. It can measure and keep track of two temperature zones—convenient for cooking a larger dish or two separate pieces of meat or fish. When the ideal or desired temperature is reached, an alarm is set off on a smarphone to alert the user to come back to the kitchen as their meal is now ready. The thermometer also has proximity wake-up capability.
Anova’s Precision Cooker is a temperature-controller device and app that assists with cooking food via sous vide, that is, bagged and immersed in water. The wand-shaped device is attached to a pot, the pot is filled with water, and the food is bagged and clipped inside the pot. One can use the app to pre-select a temperature or recipe, and monitor the progress of his or her meal in Bluetooth range. A Wi-Fi version is set to be developed with the ability to set cooking time and adjust temperature while away from the home.
The June Intelligent Oven provides instant heat. There is a camera inside the oven so one can view his or her meal while it’s cooking. The oven’s top serves as a scale to weigh the food to determine the appropriate cooking time, which is monitored and tracked via an app. The June toasts, bakes, roasts, and broils, utilizing Food Id to detect what food is being put inside the oven with its built-in camera so that it can toast, bake, roast or broil accordingly. You can see a video of the June here.
Appliances That Help Improve Diets
BioSensor Laboratories’ Penguin Sensor can detect pesticides, antibiotics and any other harmful chemicals in ingredients and food through electro-chemical analysis. It also determines acidity, salinity, and glucose levels for those trying for a healthier diet. Results are shown in a downloadable app. To use the Penguin Sensor, one squeezes and drops some food onto the cartridge and inserts the cartridge into the Penguin-like device. The results will appear on the screen of a smart phone.
A smart microwave, called MAID (Make All Incredible Dishes), suggests meals based on cooking habits, personal calorie requirements and workouts by tracking one’s activity and data on their smart phone or watch. It is also connected to the Recipe Store and thus has access to a limitless number of recipes, created and shared by cooking enthusiasts. The MAID oven provides step-by-step voice instructions with visuals on how to prepare ingredients for meals, and displays information on ingredients. The device sets time and temperature based on the number of servings and personal preferences. When the meal is complete, the complimentary app notifies the user, as well as providing healthy diet tips.
There are also utensils available in the market that inform one when to stop eating. Research and studies have claimed that eating too fast can be harmful for dietary and health reasons, and the HAPIfork aims to curb that problem. Through Bluetooth, the utensil vibrates when one is eating at a speed that exceeds pre-programmed intervals.
Appliances That Do the Cooking for You
There could be robotic cooking solutions available on the market soon. There are robot chefs that know how to stir ingredients, and other singular motions or actions, but the Moley Robotics creation includes robotic arms and sink, oven and dishwasher. Designed by 2011 MasterChef winner, Tim Anderson, the robotic unit’s behaviour and actions are not coded, but digitized to mimic movements of one making a dish through motion capture cameras. The unit can also clean itself after a meal has been prepared and made. Unfortunately, it is only a prototype, but there are plans in the works to create a consumer version for $15,000 within the next two years.
So what does the future of cooking hold for us? It appears the kitchen will slowly become its own entity, preparing meals without our own hands and leaving us with minimal work to do. Although it seems harder and harder to find the time to cook now, in the near future, we may have all the time we need—none at all.