Wired’s Joe Ray made waves last month when he wrote a piece stating that the smart kitchen is actually pretty dumb. We argued that the smart kitchen isn’t dumb, it’s just in its early stages, and that there’s a lot of ways that connected devices can actually make cooking easier and more frictionless.
Given the wide range of opinions on the topic, it’s no surprise we brought Ray onstage at SKS 2019 — alongside Nick Holzherr of Whisk and Mario Pieper of BSH Home Appliances — to talk about what is and isn’t working in the future kitchen. If you work in the appliance game or are curious about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of new kitchen devices, it’s worth watching the whole video below. But here are a few big points that came out during the panel:
In the kitchen, experiences are the new “things”
Holzherr, whose shoppable recipe company Whisk was acquired by Samsung NEXT six months ago, told the SKS audience that consumers are beginning to prioritize experiences over things. That trend holds true in the kitchen. Millennials are spending significant amounts of time looking at recipe sites and food hacks online, but aren’t always successful at translating those inspirations into meals. Holzherr sees this as an opportunity. “By connecting hardware and software, we can create new, better experiences and make them more convenient.”
Siloes aren’t good in the smart kitchen
Pieper agreed that user experience is critical when it comes to developing connected devices for the kitchen. One thing that can hinder that experience is siloed technology. Which is why BSH puts a lot of emphasis on its products engaging with other appliance companies to make sure that the whole future kitchen ecosystem works smoothly. “We want to cooperate, we want to be open,” he said. Lest Amazon and Google completely take over
When it comes to connected devices, we still have a ways to go
Onstage, Ray was still skeptical about many of the devices and technologies vying for space in your kitchen. One thing he said resonated with all the panelists, however: it’s still early days for the smart kitchen. As of now, consumers still like holding onto their cooking traditions and having the option to use physical interfaces instead of just apps. Voice technology isn’t as useful as it could be. And all too often, when it comes to connected appliances, it’s a case of tech for tech’s sake.
But that doesn’t mean it’ll always be that way. As Ray put it, “We’re in the early innings” of the smart kitchen. Holzherr likened some of the pricier connected kitchen appliances available now to the microwave right after it hit the market in the 1950s. At first, the microwave cost thousands of dollars, and therefore didn’t sell very well for decades. As price went down, however, it grew more and more popular until it became the ubiquitous appliance you see today.
Overall, it was a really frank conversation about the potential — and limitations — of the smart kitchen. Check out the full video below!