Smart Kitchen Technology – Is It What Cooks Want?

Published: June 10, 2024

The promise of the smart kitchen is appealing – sleek appliances whirring to life with a whisper, ovens self-adjusting for perfect results, and refrigerators that magically maintain a well-stocked inventory. But step into the majority of smart kitchens today, and you’ll find a much different reality. An overload of apps, one for each appliance, demanding your attention. Voice-controlled devices struggling to understand simple commands and requests. Unnecessary screens cluttering countertops.

This tech doesn’t exactly scream “smart.” And while the demand for smart kitchen technology is expected to surpass $60 billion by 2030, it is currently defined by clunky interfaces and limited functionality, leaving home cooks craving more. This is an opportunity for appliance manufacturers to shift their focus to delivering solutions that are actually helpful.

So, the question becomes: what do consumers really want out of their smart kitchen experience and how can brands deliver?

Here are three key considerations to help you unlock customer satisfaction and meaningful engagement in the smart kitchen.

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Enhance the Art of Cooking, Don’t Replace it

We fall in love with cooking for countless reasons: the joy of a shared experience with loved ones, the creative outlet, the satisfaction of mastering a new recipe. But these cherished experiences wouldn’t exist if cooking were simply a series of automated tasks carried out by impersonal devices. Building smart kitchen solutions should be about enhancing cooking experiences – not replacing or automating them.

In the smart kitchen, technology should function like a sous chef – a trustworthy collaborator that inspires and enables, creating better cooks and tastier meals. When implemented thoughtfully and intentionally, technology can become a valuable tool. Take, for example, a smart oven that guides you through complex baking techniques, or alerts you precisely when your food reaches a desired temperature. Technology should provide peace of mind that your recipe is progressing correctly through tools, tips, and reminders that ensure better results without compromising the joy or sensory experience of the cooking process.

Artificial intelligence, in particular, can be leveraged to deliver hyper-personalized smart recipe recommendations, step-by-step cooking instructions, or even suggest health-conscious ingredient substitutions. The most successful AI-powered solutions will inspire cooks of all skill levels, empowering them to explore new flavors and build their confidence in the kitchen, rather than diminishing the personal touches that make cooking special.

A Smart Kitchen is a Sustainable Kitchen

With both food prices and waste on the rise, consumers are increasingly prioritizing sustainability in every aspect of their lives. Yet, the kitchen can be a surprisingly tricky place to put those practices into action. While the smart kitchen promises to boost sustainability, those features often remain underdeveloped, leaving home cooks wanting more. To underscore the urgency: home cooks in the US waste a staggering 92 billion pounds of food annually, equal to 145 billion meals! Technology has the power to reduce this waste, stretching consumers’ resources and dollars by guiding meal preppers to efficient use of ingredients for consistent, perfect results every time.

Imagine a fridge that goes beyond tracking groceries to actively help reduce food waste. Smart inventory management systems can alert home cooks when an item is nearing its expiration and suggest recipes that incorporate unused or forgotten ingredients. The focus on mindful food practices can extend beyond the fridge. Integration with recipe apps could highlight dishes featuring organic, local, and seasonal ingredients. AI can also function as your personal meal planner, suggesting delicious meals based on what you already have on hand, minimizing impulse grocery purchases, and providing opportunities to use those wilting vegetables in your crisper drawer. Solutions like Fresco’s smart cooking companion connect your kitchen appliances and devices, preventing dinner disasters – and reducing waste along the way.

One Kitchen, One App

It’s no secret that the current smart kitchen landscape is a fragmented mess, with each brand, device, and appliance existing within its own app and ecosystem. This has created a confusing and overwhelming experience for consumers. Home cooks are left to juggle multiple devices and interfaces as smoke billows from their smart ovens, pots boil over, and they struggle to navigate clunky recipes. This hectic version of the smart kitchen is only making cooking more complicated, deterring consumers from adopting otherwise valuable technology. A truly smart kitchen demands a unified platform that allows home cooks to seamlessly manage all of their connected devices, giving them the ability to effortlessly orchestrate meals from start to finish.

It’s imperative that smart kitchen brands strive for this kind of unified ecosystem, which should allow the oven, fridge, and all kitchen devices – regardless of the brand – to work together in harmony and be controlled from one central hub. Home cooks need a unified platform that offers guided cooking experiences and suggests complementary recipes that perfectly align with the specific appliances in one’s kitchen. Most importantly, home cooks should be able to automatically adjust cooking times and temperatures across devices with the tap of a button. Smart kitchen brands that prioritize collaboration and join a brand-agnostic platform will come out on top. That is the smart kitchen that consumers want: one that works for them, not the other way around.

Looking Ahead

The promise of the smart kitchen has always been alluring, but its potential remains untapped. Today’s kitchens are defined by frustrating interfaces, wasted food, and disjointed experiences. But a new, refreshed version is possible. The future of smart kitchens should be about technology as a culinary companion that shepherds home cooks toward delicious meals while minimizing frustration and maximizing inspiration. Brands that embrace this vision have the opportunity to revolutionize home cooking, unlocking the true power of the smart kitchen and forging stronger connections with consumers.

—By Regan Burns, Global Head of Content at Fresco

Photo credit: Daniel Krason/Adobe Stock

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