Panel: Smart Home Kitchen Appliances Offer Potential, Challenges

A panel discussion held in partnership by the Smart Kitchen Summit and Samsung in New York City offered perspective on today’s smart home technology for the kitchen, including the consumer preferences it is meant to support and the challenges it creates.

According to Amy Bentley, food and culture professor at NYU, cooking is no longer a chore that is done invisibly. Instead, “we want to get our hands dirty and participate. It’s part of our conversation and our entertainment.”

This mindset has spurred a shift towards kitchen as the center of the home, and caused a convergence of hardware and software in the appliances that inhabit it. Data collected through connected appliances offer manufacturers a look inside the behaviors of consumers, and has allowed for innovative product development.

“We have terabytes and terabytes of information that we have from connected kitchen appliances, and with that you can build really sophisticated problem sets for personalization,” said Lisa Fetterman, co-founder and CEO, Nomiku, a connected sous vide device.

Nomiku takes the sous vide cooking technique a step further and marries it with another trend of equal weight in today’s kitchen, meal delivery kits. According to Fetterman, the company creates its own recipes and sends the pre-sous vide’d and frozen meals to the home, which can be cooked in 30 minutes or less in the appliance. The machine also recognizes when a home is down to its last four meals and automatically orders a new set.

She noted that consumers today want intuitive kitchen appliances, and smart home technologies deliver. “The first time you tap a meal on your Nomiku, we can know exactly what you want next based on time of day and what other meals you have in your inventory.”

Christian Madsbjerg, cultural anthropologist and author, said that as consumers continue to grow their skills in the kitchen and utilize technologies meant to solve problems and support trends, there is vast potential for more app-connected devices. “People are engaging with different cooking techniques and machines. Sous vide is one, but what about the breads of India and big cuts of meat? That will need technology,” he said.

However, big data is not without risk and consumers have become increasingly more aware of the loss of privacy inherent to the smart home.

“Technology is a set of tradeoffs. It opens these doors but then you pay the price. That’s important for us to think about and decide if it’s worth the trade off. What are we gaining and what are we giving up by adapting the newest tech?” said Bentley.