Does your blender prefer a specific brand of low-fat yogurt? Is your stovetop eager to share snapshots of last weekend’s epic dinner party? Just how connected are smart kitchens, and more importantly, which appliance knows what (and who are they sharing it with)?
Steve Nackers, corporate Manager of Electronic Controls for Sub-Zero, will be at this year’s Smart Kitchen Summit discussing cybersecurity, the connected kitchen, and the chances of your slow-cooker chili setting off five alarms in all the wrong places.
We sent him a few questions before the October event about how the Sub-Zero team are tackling innovation, performance, and adaptive privacy settings.
This interview has been lighted edited for clarity.
Tell us more about what you do for Sub-Zero Group, Inc.
I’ve been with Sub-Zero Group, Inc. for over 18 years. During that time, my career has spanned from field support to product launches to innovative research initiatives. I have enjoyed experiencing a wide part of the DNA of this family-owned company and its commitment to its customers — something I’m excited to see even more growth around with the recent breaking ground on our new innovation center that will serve as a hub for research and development.
As the Corporate Manager of Electronic Controls for Sub-Zero Group, Inc., my team will be one of the first to move to the new innovation center where we will work alongside teams from across our three great brands on developing and integrating the controls, software, and innovations that deliver on that promise of quality and value that Sub-Zero Group, Inc. is known for.
How have you seen technology transform the way we cook in the kitchen?
Yes — technology is reshaping the kitchen and the home space around us in ways we see, and in ways we don’t. However, it is important to make sure that those technologies are applied in meaningful ways that enable and enhance the consumer experience. From the NASA-inspired air filter technologies that enhance food preservation to precision software and instrumentation that has evolved greatly in the last decade to provide the consumer greater control and more predictable cooking results, these technologies are reshaping the cooking experience. We continue to take really innovative and new technologies and shape them in ways that help our consumers to have an experience in the kitchen that gives them confidence.
Do you envision a future in which all kitchen appliances are connected and controllable via your phone/voice?
The key thing is providing the consumer with choice. Homeowners still really value the ability to interact with their appliances, but are also looking for ways to improve their efficiency in the kitchen. Their data, privacy, and security should be what they have control over, and we need to enable them to interact with their appliances in the ways that are most seamless and comfortable for them. For some people, that will be voice, for others it is mobile, and still others it is a physical knob. Thoughtfully designing the appliances from day one throughout our engineering process to accommodate that choice and respecting the values of our consumers is what drives our vision of the future.
How do you address consumer concerns about privacy with IoT-enabled devices?
We take security very seriously and have worked closely with organizations like UL and Microsoft from the start to ensure proper measures are in place to be proactive about vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity is an ever-changing landscape, and is something we must continuously evolve and update our security measures to stay on top of. The most important thing is to have a mindset and commitment to security as a priority in every step of your design process and throughout the various levels of your organization. That is something we take seriously and continue to cultivate.
We also understand that consumers have concerns about IoT enabled devices. Our customer service teams are dedicated to working with consumers on their questions. Our hope is always that any concerns they might have we address so effectively that they come away with confidence and a greater sense of trust. To that end, we work to be clear, transparent, and effective in communicating what and how data is handled.
What’s the one kitchen appliance you could never live without?
My Wolf induction cooktop, hands down. Induction is finally making inroads in the U.S., and I’ve converted a few family and friends as well. I had used gas and standard electric methods for years previously, but getting my first Wolf induction cooktop was eye-opening. The power, efficiency, and absolute precision was amazing. To be able to drive a pot of water to rolling boil in under a minute, and yet leave chocolate at a soft melt for as long as needed with such precision on the same devices is incredible. There is a lot of exciting innovation to come in this space too which makes me even more eager for future generations of the product!
Come watch Steve speak on Hacking The Oven: Cybersecurity & The Connected Kitchen at SKS next month! Get 25% off your tickets here.