Kitchen Technology: Not quite The Jetsons, yet.

Technology:  It’s everywhere these days.  It’s evolving at a blistering pace.  We all know how it goes, that shiny new aluminum tablet you bought two months ago is already out of date, replaced by something that is twice as fast, and half the price!  That’s not just all marketing hype, there is a law, Moores Law.  Moore’s law talks about the amount of transistors on a chip doubling....  Ok, I’ll forgo the technical jargon before you jump to your Facebook page.  Basically the law says that computers will get twice as fast and half the price each year.  This has been true for the last 50 or so years!

So how has this affected the kitchen in today’s market?  Well, there is TONS of tech out there for the kitchen.  Some of it good, some bad, and some just plain odd.  I’ll guide you through just some of the things I have discovered in my travels.

First up:  The AlessiTAB.  This tablet is a touch screen tablet that was developed for use exclusively in the kitchen.  It runs on that all familiar Android operating system, and even features a TV tuner!  I think it’s a great idea, but it’s going to be a dismal failure.  Since it’s got all the tablet specs, it’s got the tablet price, without the tablet portability.  The idea of having a computer or tablet in the kitchen is something a lot consumers want.  With so many great apps out there for the kitchen why not get an iPad Chef Sleeve or just put it in a "Ziploc" bag? (Yes, that actually works really well!)

iGrill

Outdoor grilling, it’s one of the great outdoor pastimes.  Imagine this:  You are outside on your deck, you’re surrounded by friends, great smelling food, and wonderful weather.  What could possibly make this day any better?  Being able to leave all that and go hide inside.  But how can you go inside to play another round of Angry Birds or check your Match.com inbox without the risk of burning your delicious meats?  You can’t trust your friends, but you can trust iGrill.  iGrill is a remote meat thermometer that communicates over Bluetooth to your favorite iOS device.  Yup, you can look right at your iPhone or iPad and see the status of your meats without ever having to leave that computer chair.  Frag on oh “master of the meats”.

Brizo Venuto Faucet with SmartTouch

The Brizo SmartTouch faucet:  Did Brizo re-invent the faucet from the ground up?  Nope.  But they did add a “touch” of technology that really improves the way you use a faucet.  You can touch this one to turn it on and off.  Doesn’t sound that exciting huh?  I’ll admit, it doesn’t shoot lasers, but it is hugely useful in the kitchen.  Imagine this:  You are cooking and your hands are all dirty.  You need to wash off, but you don’t want to get your BBQ sauce covered fingers, or worse, your raw chicken coated fingers all over the faucet.  With Brizo SmartTouch, you just tap your forearm, elbow, nose, or other fleshy bit on the faucet and you’ve got clean flowing water to rinse off in.  I recently “forced” a client (my mother) to get one of these.  She thought it was the most unnecessary thing when I explained it to her.  After a day of using it, she’s been raving about it ever since.  Allegedly a face-rub from you cat can also activate the faucet, so curious water hating cats: you have been warned.  Brizo seamlessly blends style and technology into all of it’s products, unlike Aquabrass who have attached a Playstation controller to the end of a faucet.

ZigBee Appliances:  You may never have heard of ZigBee, but it’s a pretty interesting thing.  ZigBee makes wireless transmitters, and the associated computer magic to get appliances to talk to one another.  Why does it matter if your appliances can talk together?  Not so they can plan world domination, but so they can work together to save you money.  It all starts with your electric meter.  If you have a ZigBee wireless electric meter it can send out lots of useful information, most importantly when electricity is the cheapest.  Your appliances talk to the meter, and know when it’s the best time to do energy intensive tasks.  For example, your dishwasher can automatically run at 3am, when electricity is cheapest.  Your refrigerator can defrost then too.  Of course, you can override these settings if you need your favorite jeans washed right away.  Check out this video by Consumer Reports to see some of these appliances in action.  This video features GE appliances, but SubZero also is in the ZigBee appliance game.

Electrolux Biorobot food storage device:  Ok, at first glance this thing looks gross.  Would you be OK with putting your food in green goo to keep it fresh?  That concept might take some getting used to, but a few years ago we never thought we’d be using our phones as computers either.  The idea behind this concept refrigerator is that you stick your food in the green goo, it forms pods around it, and by using the light in the room the goo stays cool and germ free.  Also, since your food is separate from other items, there is no odor transfer.  Interestingly, Sub Zero utilizes this same concept in their refrigerators with multiple cooling zones driven by multiple compressors.  This keeps odors from moving from one area to another so your food stays fresher longer.  If this goo concept were ever to come to market, there would be so many uses for it.  Imagine instead of one giant food cooling area, you could have multiple “goo units” that store food at the point of use.  Your wet bar could have a small area for fruit, and a main area for beverages.  This could also be great in restaurant use as well.

Inductive Charging Mats: How many kitchens have you walked into that have cell phone, ipod, and game system chargers all over the countertops?  We’ve got so many things that we need to recharge these days, and a lot of that goes on in the kitchen.  If you’re clever, you can create a nice charging station to manage all those wires.  But why manage the present when you could bring your kitchen into the future?  How about wireless charging?  Powermat, and Energizer make these great mats that can charge your devices by just dropping them on the mat.  No wires needed.  Older devices will need to have an adapter slipped onto the battery, but a lot of new cell phones are coming with inductive charging built-in.  Check out this videoto see it in action, it’s F***ing effing awesome!
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There is a lot of great kitchen technology out there, and this list doesn’t even scratch the surface.  Consumers see more of this technology, they want it integrated into their designs.  It makes sense, if they can have all this powerful technology at their desks, why should one’s kitchen be in the stone age?
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