Vitamix is a household name is the kitchen; in 1949, founder William G. Barnard demonstrated the Vitamix blender in the first U.S. infomercial in the early days of television. Since then, Vitamix has worked to uphold William’s mission, developing kitchen food preparation tools as technology continues to mature and provide new capabilities. As COO, much of Tony Ciepiel’s work is thinking about how the market is evolving and how Vitamix can lead in bringing new technology to traditional kitchen prep devices like the Vitamix Ascent Series.

The company’s smart blender series builds on the traditional Vitamix blender and adds emerging technology and capabilities such as built-in timers and wireless connectivity. “As we began designing and planning for the launch of the Ascent Series, we asked ourselves how we might add value for our customers through intuitive design and maximum ease of use,” said Ciepiel. “Among other things, that line of thought drove us to incorporate Near Field Communication (NFC) technology into the containers for our Ascent Series blenders.”

Through NFC, the blender can detect what size container has been placed onto the base and will change blending program parameters accordingly. Those parameters include ramp-up times and blade speeds as well as the overall length of a blending program. “That was really a breakthrough moment that brought us to the forefront of intelligent technology within the blending space. We intend to remain there.”

In addition to the Ascent Series product, Vitamix has plans to launch an app that gives customers control over their blenders and what they can make. The app includes the ability to design blending programs that can then be uploaded to the blender to provide users the ability to customize programs to meet their needs. The app pairs those programs with recipes that go directly to the blender. Vitamix allows users to access those recipes but also works with their Perfect Blend Smart Scale, to let the user know exactly – down to a fraction of an ounce – how much of each ingredient to load into the blender container, and can scale the recipe to desired volume or calorie count.

“When you combine that level of automation, product intelligence and connectivity, you impart the expertise of professional chefs to the novice user, which in turn creates unparalleled joy of use and a real feeling of accomplishment,” said Ciepiel of the app.

But how are consumers reacting to this kind of technology? Tony sees it as both an opportunity and a challenge. “One of the interesting challenges we face as an industry is giving consumers a compelling reason to invest their time and money into learning how to integrate “Internet of Things” features into their daily lives,” said Ciepiel. “We’re in a unique position to evolve a product that people already love for its convenience and reliability…. we need to help our customers understand why we’re integrating new, connected technology into our products, and why it’s more than worth their time to come along for the journey.”

Vitamix recognizes that a unique approach is needed when addressing the future of kitchen technology and communicating its benefits. Through in-depth research, they’ve been able to gain a better grasp on the voice of their customer and from that research, are working to develop products that can be woven seamlessly into customers lives.

“It’s not just creating technology for the sake of technology, but rather creating products that directly fulfill what customers want and help them achieve their personal goals, whatever those may be. This will inevitably include more connected, high-tech products in the kitchen as time goes by,” Ciepiel acknowledged. “The industry needs to create and agree upon technical communication standards sooner rather than later.”

The Smart Kitchen Summit is the first event to tackle the future of food, cooking and the kitchen with leaders across food, tech, commerce, design, delivery and appliances. This series will highlight panelists and partners for the 2017 event, being held on October 10-11 at Benaroya Hall in Seattle.

Don’t miss Tony Ciepiel of Vitamix at the 2017 Smart Kitchen Summit. Check out the full list of speakers and register for the Summit, using code VITAMIX to get 25% off ticket prices.