By Laurie Leiker
Years ago, the Jetsons showed us what homes would be like in the future — a robot maid and computerized systems controlling everything, from temperature to food preparation to lighting and entertainment.
With the advent of smart home technology, we’re almost there. One area that’s been lagging behind, though, is connected appliances. Where do we stand and what does the industry have in store? Are connected appliances the voice of the future?
Are connected appliances merely novelties or will they truly change the way we interact with our kitchens? The truth is, ready or not, appliance manufacturers are bringing connected appliances to the market and they’re here now.
A recent Twitter chat of industry experts – KB Tribechat – highlighted what we can expect to see in the near future and it involves one word — voice.
Connected appliances bring us one step closer to the promise the Jetsons made all those years ago, especially with the addition of voice technology, through Amazon Alexa and similarly equipped appliances. One company put it this way, “The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home; now, it’s the brain too.”
Most major appliance manufacturers have connected appliances available — everything from smart ovens allowing you to preheat your oven while you’re on the way home, to being alerted via text when the last of the milk has been used.
By adding voice, those appliances now give you an added hand. Say you’re cutting vegetables and realize you could use more light. Simply saying, “More light, Alexa,” the LED-equipped lighting fixtures raise the lumen level and you’re working safer.
Connected appliances with voice command also increase cleanliness in the kitchen. While you’re mixing the meatloaf, you can simply say, “Preheat oven to 375.” The oven does just that, all without having to stop, wash your hands and press the button or, in some cases, having to use your elbow to turn on the oven to preheat so you don’t get hamburger juice on the button.
Beyond voice controls, connected appliances can help save money. Appliances can automatically adjust power, based on ambient temperature in the home, reducing energy costs. And who doesn’t want a refrigerator that automatically displays the latest items on sale at the grocery store? Keep a running shopping list on the refrigerator smart panel, then have recipes, coupons and nutrition information delivered automatically to your smartphone while you’re in the store. Suggested recipes can be delivered daily based on what’s in the refrigerator, making a run to the store unnecessary (they can even help with recipes for those leftovers).
One expert was especially impressed with how connected appliances can help those with physical limitations, turning on the washer or dryer automatically, providing different types of alerts, depending on if the homeowner has visual or hearing challenges and, overall, providing more options to those with physical challenges will change the way they interact with the kitchen in general.
The connected kitchen still won’t uncork your bottle of wine and pour a glass so it’s ready when you get home, but the advantages of building homes with increased connectivity, allowing all aspects of the home to join the conversation, will mean homebuyers will step into their new homes, ready to face the future.
Laurie Leiker is a contributor to New Home Source.