- The Magic Kitchen Project
- The Cook as Conductor
- Cook Anywhere on Your Countertop
- The Cook as Lion Tamer
- Home Robots: Bring on the Invasion
- The Internet, with Refrigerator or Microwave Attached
You may be as smart as your kitchen today, but will you be as smart as your kitchen tomorrow? The kitchens of the future are filled with brainiac appliances and interactive technology that seem more suited to the halls of CalTech than to the humble home mess hall. The good news is that these products are so advanced that they will be able to do pretty much everything for us—including the thinking.
Here's a sneak peek at what's in store:
The Magic Kitchen Project
Texas Instruments, Whirlpool, Verizon and other companies are working together to design a high tech kitchen that incorporates voice- and motion-activated appliances, digital projectors, and interactive technology. The project is called the "Magic Kitchen," and one of its applications converts your kitchen wall, countertop, or tabletop into something akin to an iPad. The writers at TechWorldNews talk about "embedded mini computers outputting to digital light projectors under cabinets, on appliance doors and on counter tops." Technospeak aside, it means that you can display all manner of information, retrieved from the Internet or elsewhere, on pretty much any kitchen surface.
Even more magical, the Magic Kitchen will recognize any family member as soon as he or she enters the kitchen, and will automatically adjust the computer to display images and information relevant to that person. So, The New York Times and the day's appointments pop up when mom enters the room, Sports Illustrated and a class schedule and homework assignments are projected as soon as the high school lacrosse star saunters across the threshold.
Graphic courtesy of technewsworld.com
The Cook as Conductor
Not sure what to have for dinner? Call your kitchen. The kitchen of the future will be able to let you know what is already on hand in the refrigerator and pantry, and can suggest recipes and generate shopping lists based on what's available.
This is just one of the ideas dreamed up by the folks at GE's Industrial Design Operation group. The way they see it, tomorrow's cook will be akin to a conductor, standing smack in the middle of a panoramic touch-sensor computer display that is essentially "command central" for the kitchen. They see kitchen appliances as an interconnected, interactive suite of products that communicate with one another and, by using predictive computing models, anticipate your needs. This opens up new possibilities for the way a kitchen is run. The user can look up recipes, check to see which ingredients are already at home, generate a shopping list, send that list to an online grocery store and set up home delivery, set the oven to preheat, get wine reviews and recommendations, watch a step-by-step cooking guide, project seating charts and table settings directly onto the tabletop, and a whole host of other possibilities that have yet to be considered
Graphic courtesy of geconsumerproducts.com
Cook Anywhere on Your CountertopImagine a kitchen free of electric cords. Panasonic and Fulton Innovation are making it a reality with a technology they call "eCoupled Wireless Power." They integrate radio frequency technology with kitchen tools and appliances and the end result is that you can position any enabled appliance anywhere you want it. Put the cooktop next to the sink in the morning, and move it next to the refrigerator later in the day. There are no power cords to cramp your style and, since any eCoupled appliance is so fully sealed that it can go right into the dishwasher, clean up is a breeze. That's right: your entire cooktop can go into the dishwasher.
The Cook as Lion TamerForget about Wii Fit. How about Wii Cook? The creative minds behind the Magic Kitchen Project, spearheaded by Texas Instruments, Whirlpool, Verizon and other companies, envision a high tech kitchen that lets consumers cook a meal "hands-free." Just as a lion tamer stands in the middle of the circus ring and directs the animals with voice and hand commands, tomorrow's cooks will be able to adjust the heat on a cooktop, answer the telephone, open the refrigerator, and perform countless other kitchen tasks all by simply pointing a sensor bar and speaking a command.
Home Robots: Bring on the InvasionThanks to the Roomba robot floor vacuum, we've gotten pretty comfortable with the idea of having robots around to help with tedious household chores. But as comfortable as we are with the concept, there hasn't exactly been a robot invasion. Hang tight, it's coming. Panasonic and the IRT Research Institute have developed a dish washing robot that can pick dishes out of a sink, rinse them, and load them in a dishwasher—all with nary a scratch. Panasonic is waiting for safety standards to be established for home use robots before rolling out this product. It can't come soon enough for us.
Image courtesy of gizmowatch.com
The Internet, with Refrigerator or Microwave AttachedUsers might get so preoccupied with what's happening on the outside of this LG Internet Refrigerator that they forget about the food inside of it. The large touch-screen LCD monitor positioned front-and-center on the door will encourage owners to pull up a stool to watch TV or a DVD, listen to music, browse photos, place a video phone call, surf the web, or just use the screen as an old-fashioned message board. A complete food management system will enable the owner to keep track of what's in the 'fridge, as well as what's been in the 'fridge too long.
Image courtesy of Gizmag.com