Envisioning the kitchen of the future has become a perennial pastime since Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, when suffragist Mary Lease predicted that within a century, women would be freed from the drudgery of the kitchen by a meal pill that would eliminate the need for cooking. The fair also featured more realistic kitchen inventions, including Aunt Jemima pancake mix and the world’s first automatic dishwasher. Four decades later, the 1933 World’s Fair returned to Chicago to showcase Homes of Tomorrow, which included more sophisticated dishwashers and other time-saving kitchen appliances. In 1956, General Motors took a spin at the kitchen of tomorrow in its promotional video “Design for Dreaming,” where a cake could be baked by simply inserting a card into a slot to see a preview of the finished product and watch the ingredients automatically start on an assembly line.
Today, some of these ideas remain wishful thinking, while others are already a reality. Meanwhile, some of today’s realities have surpassed anything past futurists imagined. Here’s a look at what the kitchen of the future looks like today, and how it might look in the near future.
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The Connected Kitchen
An outstanding feature of today’s futuristic kitchen is connectivity to the Internet of Things. One promise the connected kitchen is on the verge of delivering is guided cooking. This year’s Consumer Electronic Show and Kitchen and Bath International Show featured smart appliance systems designed to let you choose a recipe based on your available ingredients, send the ingredients to the over for preheating and use videos to guide you through unfamiliar cooking steps. For instance, Whirlpool announced that its smart ovens will now integrate with the Yummly app, which uses image recognition technology to take an image of your available food, follow integrated cooking tutorials and videos, and send instructions to your connected over or microwave.
But today’s connected kitchen isn’t limited to smart cooking appliances and apps. LG’s ThinQ smart fridge that includes a built-in touchscreen, a webOS operating system, Alexa integration and built-in speakers to stream music wirelessly. You can also connect your kitchen appliances to a high-definition camera surveillance system so you can check on your children and pets while you’re cooking, or confirm that your appliances are turned off in other parts of your home.
Automated Indoor Gardening
The kitchen of the future also offers new ways to bring food to your table, including automated indoor gardening. One of today’s most popular indoor gardening methods is hydroponics, which replaces traditional soil with a mineral nutrient solution that directly nourishes plants, either through unsupported roots or through roots supported by a medium such as perlite. Hydroponics systems may also be suspended in the air and misted (aeroponics), or even combined with aquaculture systems to support edible fish and aquatic animals (aquaponics).
The latest innovations combine hydroponics with automated indoor gardening systems. For instance, the CityCrop intelligent indoor garden combines hydroponics with automated climate control, smart nutrient dosing systems and LED grow lights tailored to plant needs, all controlled by an app that lets you monitor your garden’s growth. Indoor gardening kits such as Click and Grow are also available that simplify the set-up process.
Robots are also moving into the kitchen to make common household chores easier. Moley Robotics is scheduled to release a robot chef this year. The robot can download a recipe from a library of thousands of meals and use its robotic arms to prepare the meal following the same procedures a master chef would use. While a bit pricey at an estimated $18,000, once this type of technology becomes mainstream, prices should drop to more affordable levels.
Robots are also helping make it easier to clean up your kitchen. Robot vacuums such as the Neato Botvac can do your sweeping for you. When it’s time to mop your floor, floor mopping robots such as the iRobot Braava jet can do the cleaning for you.
The future of today’s kitchen is connected, with appliances integrated with the internet and mobile phones as well as appliances and electronics in other parts of the home. Tomorrow’s kitchen will also use automated indoor gardening to grow fresh food right in your home. Kitchen robots are ready to start doing your cooking, as well as clean up your floors. The kitchen of tomorrow will make it easier to cook, bring food to your table, clean up and relax as you enjoy a good meal.
Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.