Gadgets to make your kitchen smarter
Soon, you won’t just use your kitchen – you’ll chat to it. Welcome to the fantastical innovations that will become part of your food life in 2019 and beyond.
The kitchen, as you know it, is a museum piece. It may not feel like it. You may be happy there. But in the next few years, the domestic kitchen is going to – almost literally – come alive with possibility. A new wave of intelligent, web-connected appliances will bring to an end the very notion of toiling at a hot stove. Instead, as the interoperability of appliances is smoothed out, and those appliances begin to connect seamlessly to Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, your kitchen will take on the feel of a high-tech command centre. One where, simply by talking to your appliances, you will be able to shop, set them cooking unaided, watch guided recipe tutorials and, generally, be the best cook you can be.
At the forefront of this revolution is BBC Good Food, with our archive of 11,000 recipes now available through Samsung’s connected fridges and Amazon’s Alexa devices. With the right technology, you can connect your favourite Good Food recipes to your fridge, or search and follow each one, all by voice.
Hannah Williams, BBC Good Food’s head of digital content, says, ‘The routines and homes of the Good Food audience are changing, but the desire for trusted, tasty recipes is not. With every innovation, we make our content more useful and relevant. It’s exciting to help people cook great-tasting food, whether they’re talking to their fridge or flicking through the magazine.’
Everything from your breadmaker to your pans will monitor temperature and humidity to ensure meals turn out perfectly. Again. And again. And again. In some cases, that future is already here. By 2022, it definitely will be. Welcome to the kitchen of tomorrow. Life may never be the same again.
In 2019, LG and Electrolux will release cutting-edge kitchen appliances that, linked to Google Assistant and/or Amazon’s Alexa, will allow you to pre-heat and adjust your oven, hob and hood simply by talking to them. Both manufacturers are partnered with Innit, a recipe, nutrition and meal-planning app, which will allow you to ask for instructions – for example, how to roast a chicken – then load them into your oven without touching a dial.
‘Having that voice function is handy if you’ve got mucky hands and want to flip a door down,’ says Tom Cooper, MD at grocery-replenishment app Pantri. But high-end kit, like LG’s Signature Kitchen Suite will cost big bucks.
At a lower entry level, Cooper sees Amazon’s Echo Show – an Alexa voice-controlled tablet – as the key that may unlock the voice-controlled kitchen for the masses. The Echo Show is already proving its worth in the kitchen by allowing cooks to set timers out loud and pull down videos of recipe tutorials. But as more everyday appliances, such as smart kettles and coffee machines that connect automatically with Alexa appear (and as Amazon itself releases its own kitchen appliances, such as the AmazonBasics microwave), the Echo Show may become the go-to kitchen hub. ‘It’s £50 to put a little Amazon Echo speaker in your kitchen, or £200 for a screen, and then you have all these appliances that connect through it,’ says Cooper.
First mass-market smart appliance?
The AmazonBasics microwave is a voice-activated potential game-changer. Over 20% of UK households already own a voice assistant, such as Amazon’s Alexa (or Google Home with Google Assistant) and, retailing at only $59.99 (no UK launch date – yet), this microwave could become the first mass-market smart appliance. To Chris Albrecht, managing editor at food-tech bible The Spoon, this traditionally tricky piece of kitchen equipment is perfect for such automation. ‘Tell it, “cook two potatoes” and it promises to do just that. No more blasting everything on high in 30-second increments. And it will keep adding presets to its database, so you can get customised cooking for packaged goods.’
Speedy slow cooking
Forget clunky 1970s pressure cookers, the electric, fully-programmable Instant Pot (around £119) claims it can cook your favourite meals up to six times faster but using up to 70% less energy.
Camera-enabled, so you can see what is in it (and tag items with their expiry dates), connected to Good Food for recipe ideas and supermarket apps for the ingredients, the Samsung Family Hub Multi-Door 550l fridge-freezer (£4,499) – controlled from its touchscreen or your phone – enables you to meal-plan, auto-generate shopping lists and shop in a few clicks.
Controlled from a phone app or its door – a 48cm touchscreen from where you can also browse the web – Hoover’s Vision oven (£1,450) is at the forefront of camera-enabled oven technology. Using the camera, you can see how your food is cooking without opening the door and losing heat. ‘You could put the Good Food app on it to look at recipes,’ enthuses Cooper, ‘and use the oven camera to upload pics to social media.’
Shipping from March in North America (worldwide distribution, ‘won’t be too long’), Bartesian is a capsule-powered unit, similar to a pod coffee machine, which enables you to create bespoke cocktails. ‘I like the idea of throwing a party and guests whipping up their own cocktails with a lot less mess,’ says Albrecht.
We all know how frustrating it is to get distracted and let a brew go cold. Well, Ember’s battery-powered, temperature-controlled mugs (£79.95), will hold your drink at whatever temperature you set. ‘You can even remotely control the temperature via the Ember app,’ says Jeevan Jayaprakash, a strategist at innovation consultancy Hi Mum! Said Dad.
Due soon in the US, Ovie’s smart tabs and clips fit on bowls or bags. When storing leftovers, simply tell your voice assistant what you are saving and, using the Ovie database, its tabs then change colour or ping alerts to your phone as the food needs to be eaten. ‘It’s smart Tupperware,’ says Tom Cooper.
Easy beer making
The stink, the sterilising and the often dismal end product are all good reasons not to brew your own beer. But BEERMKR, a sanitised brew pouch within an app-monitored countertop unit, threatens to make the process irresistibly easy. It will hopefully be shipping to Europe by summer 2019.
Inspired by machines such as the BioChef Living Food blender (£259), Lakeland is looking at stocking vacuum blenders in 2019. ‘Traditional juicers whisk lots of air into a smoothie and that oxygen impacts on flavour and nutritional value. Vacuum juicers suck air out before they blend, so oxidation is slowed,’ says Samm Swain, Lakeland’s buying and merchandising director.
Take a cooking pot, a ziplock bag and the WiFi-enabled Anova Precision Cooker heating element (£139), and you can cook sous-vide with absolute precision, from anywhere in the house.
Linked to a recipe app and ingredient database, Drop Scale (from £50) makes recalculating recipe weights for more guests, or swapping ingredients – say butter for oil – a one-click job.
iCuisine is developing Bluetooth-enabled whisks, spoons, spatulas and jugs that can relay weights, volumes and temperatures to an app. It enables 100% accuracy, so there will be no need for ‘a bit of this, a pinch of that’ guesswork when following a recipe.
It will cost you around £1,500, but Siemens’ CT636LES6 coffee machine is the last word in personalised, appcontrolled caffeine pleasure. Family members can save their individual drink preferences, pour an espresso remotely – and it updates with new coffee styles.
For the snoozers among us, being able to turn on the kettle from the comfort of your bed is the stuff of dreams. AppKettle makes it reality (£129.99). ‘You can boil the kettle remotely via your phone, schedule it or turn it on with your voice via Alexa,’ says Jayaprakash.
Make your own yogurt
One to watch? New York’s Yomee, is an appcontrolled yogurt maker that uses entirely soluble live culture pods. ‘Making your own yogurt eliminates loads of plastic packaging. Soluble pods must be the future,’ says Good Food’s hub director, Lulu Grimes.
It will launch first in China and the US, with Europe to follow, but Bosch’s PAI will project an interactive screen onto any surface. Forget food-encrusted tablets in the kitchen. ‘It’s quite futuristic,’ says Filipe Oliveira, a home electronics analyst at consultancy Futuresource. ‘It projects recipe instructions and you interact with it by touching images that are projected.’ New Electrolux appliances integrated with Sony Mobile’s interactive projector, Xperia Touch, will offer a similar experience. Think Tom Cruise in Minority Report.
A recipe-packed app that connects to temperature-sensors in its pans and an ultra-responsive induction hob, the Hestan Cue system (UK launch, mid-2019) will guide you through each step of a recipe, automatically adjusting to the right temperature as you go
AEG’s new SenseCook induction hobs use sensors accurate to within 1C to adjust the temperature in your pans as you cook. Select foods from the touchscreen and SenseFry will pan-fry them to your specification (from around £899), or with SenseBoil indicators, ensure the pan never boils over. The latter launches in the UK in April.
In this brave new world of instant delivery, a huge part of the battle is making sure whatever you’ve ordered will fit through your letterbox. Garcon Wines has designed a flat wine bottle, made of recycled PET plastic, which means its partner delivery firms, such as Next and Bloom & Wild, can simply pop the wine through your letterbox. Now that is a future that Good Food can get behind
Already working with Samsung and LG, when Pantri, launches in 2020 – as an app, pre-installed in smart appliances or as a one-touch button – it will allow you to re-order groceries instantly from any store linked into the system, be it a supermarket or a tiny artisan bakery. By monitoring dishwashers and kettles, for instance, automated re-ordering should be the eventual outcome.
Already in the aisles at Costco in the US, Apeel is an edible coating (made from plant material) which – no more plastic! – keeps produce, such as avocados, fresher for longer.
Are you enticed by any of these futuristic kitchen innovations? Leave a comment below...