Smart Appliances in Today's Kitchen: Hot or Not?
By Teri Tsang Barrett
Most major kitchen appliances are expected to last an average of 14 years ––will the same remain true of smart appliances? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, with smart tech-enhanced appliances appearing in midrange markets as well as the highest of high end, it’s time for the consumer to understand what smart features are worth it –– and which to avoid.
• Meet the Smart Appliance: Smart Cooking Range
Depending on the manufacturer and model, smart stovetops and ovens may offer anything from remote programming to display screens for following recipes. The most tech-savvy models may boast built-in refrigeration to keep ingredients fresh until automated cooking begins, with the control panel being an app on the consumer’s smart phone.
Hot or Not? HOT.
Anything that gets dinner on the table faster is a keeper, but it’ll cost you. Also, the potentially gimmicky display screen seems to serve more of a purpose on a cooking range compared to a refrigerator.
• Meet the Smart Appliance: Smart Refrigerators
The most-common high-tech trend is the touch screen, which, depending on the maker, can be used as a baby monitor, note pad (complete with stylus pen), TV, weather center, calendar and food/meal manager. Manufacturers are already betting on the refrigerator’s ability to keep tabs on what foods are available in order for the smart appliance to suggest a recipe for that night's dinner.
Hot or Not? NOT—but there’s potential.
Most of the features won’t simplify the consumer’s life and certainly don’t hold a candle to other appliances that have the same job. The food manager feature, including the ability to suggest meals based on what’s available, is appealing, but considering the information currently needs to be manually entered, that’s asking a lot of the consumer. A streamlined process potentially involving scanning a receipt or barcodes as groceries are unpacked doesn’t seem that far off.
• Meet the Smart Appliance: Smart Dishwasher
Similar to the smart cooking range, this smart appliance jumps into the future by taking its information into the clouds—smart phones will be alerted once cycles end or when supplies run low, though it’s likely automated refill orders are next. Another potential benefit is the smart dishwasher’s ability to be smart grid-compatible, meaning it could save consumer’s money by opting to run cycles during off-peak energy hours.
Hot or Not? NOT.
Not only are we waiting for smart grid technology to expand, but why is it important to be notified when the dishes are done?
• Meet the Smart Appliance: HDTV-Loaded Appliances
Whether it’s slapped on a refrigerator or a ventilation hood, HDTV appears to be slated to take over as the latest status symbol in the kitchen. The general idea is that users will be able to watch television in the kitchen—the better to cook alongside a celeb chef with—or check the weather, or stream live music.
Hot or Not? NOT.
Considering the cost breakdown as well as the fact that TVs and tablets already do this job well—plus, isn’t the mobility a plus?—this perk comes across as unnecessary. Also, do repairs fall within the jurisdiction of TV repairmen or ventilation hood experts?
• Meet the Smart Appliance: Self-Diagnosing Repair Technology
When smart appliances breakdown, some of them will let you know. Certain ones emit a signal to a smart phone app to let consumers or manufacturers know what’s wrong and either provide the consumer with the necessary steps for fixing the problem or schedule a repair, if necessary. Technicians will know what repairs are needed beforehand, allowing them to come prepared with certain parts and ensuring that the repair can happen that day.
Hot or Not? HOT.
This smart technology will save consumers from hours of frustration by identifying the problem, and will potentially assist in eliminating the need for outside repairs altogether, saving both time and money.