With CES right around the corner, the announcements are pouring in for new gadgets and products to be on display at the Las Vegas show, including those that will change the way we cook, eat, and think about our food.
Appliance-maker LG is the latest. The company announced this week it will unveil a smart gardening appliance for the consumer kitchen at CES 2020, one that uses advanced lighting, temperature, and water control to let consumers grow greens year-round inside their kitchens.
The as-yet unnamed appliance takes many of the functions found in commercial-scale indoor farming and applies them to a device specifically made for the average consumer. Software, controlled via the user’s smartphone determines the precise “recipe” of LED lights, air, and water the plants need and when that recipe should change based on the time of day. The goal is to replicate “optimal outdoor conditions by precisely matching the temperature inside the insulated cabinet with the time of day,” according to the announcement from LG.
This kind of control means users can grow herbs and leafy greens year-round if they choose, and with considerably more ease than they would have with an outdoor garden. Not only does a controlled indoor cabinet mean no pests (or pesticides for that matter), the companion app basically offers a step-by-step guide each day for growing, monitoring, and harvesting plants. It’s not unlike the many guided cooking apps out there offering granular advice every step of the way so that experts and less experienced users alike can use the tool successfully.
LG’s new appliance marks the company’s first foray into the indoor gardening space — and possibly a new trend for the future of the home kitchen. Up to now, smart indoor farms for consumers have been mostly standalone devices that don’t necessarily have any connection with the home’s main kitchen. From the pictures, LG’s appliance can be built right into the cabinetry and modular enough to fit many different kitchen formats.
LG isn’t the only company exploring how to do this. At the beginning of December, appliance-maker Miele acquired the assets of Agrilution, whose Plantcube indoor vertical farm can be directly built into home kitchens.
It will likely be a long time before we see such devices become standard parts of all kitchens. That idea of building indoor farming into the design of the kitchen was a concept explored in depth at SKS 2019 this past October. It looks expensive, time consuming, and complex right now, but more major appliance-makers entering the space means we’re slowly but surely inching towards the day when the cost of such systems can come down and the average consumer might someday see at-home smart farming become a reality.