Connected kitchens. This was the top trend in kitchen appliance technology at IFA 2018 last month. All the big brands in the kitchen space were either announcing partnerships, or discussing them. Electrolux and AEG were on hand to show off their smart cooktops and connected ovens and their partnership with Google Assistant. Miele expanded on their Dialog oven range with the MChef meal delivery service. LG was also there to launch their kitchen range, including their Signature Kitchen Suite (SKS), as well as coin a new phrase — Technicureans!

Technicureans is what LG is calling their potential SKS customers. Technicureans, according to them, are ‘a new generation of forward-thinking cooks, combining their passion for food with their appreciation of innovation’. I thought they were called ‘early adopters’, the beloved description of the technology startup world, but I like the premise. Whether the name, which is trademarked, will catch on I can’t say, but I like the idea.

LG launched this product to Europe in grand fashion. They had a stand alone pod outside in the Sommergarten at IFA, filled with their own brand of smart appliances, accompanied by beautiful kitchen furniture by Valcucine, who partnered with them. What I found inside was incredibly impressive. Three kitchens, packed full of connected appliances. Touch controls on ovens with built-in recipes and beautiful interfaces.

LG demonstrated their new touch screen kitchen interface, which works with all their appliances, and is powered by Google Assistant and the Innit platform. Users can select a recipe on Innit using the smart display, which uses wi-fi to talk to the oven. The display will also walk the user through each step, allowing the user to bring up an instructional video if necessary.

This isn’t exclusive to LG and Smart Kitchen Suite, however. Google has already announced three other smart displays with Sony, Lenovo, and JBL, so we can expect these to appear on the market very soon.

AEG, who took centre stage at IFA instead of their parent company Electrolux, launched their new smart SenseCook cooktops with videos and demonstrations on how it all works. The first two cooktops in the range have specific jobs. SenseFry, which provides an automatically adaptable temperature for pan frying, and SenseBoil, which constantly monitors water temperature, adjusting where necessary to prevent a pan boiling over. If consumers opt for the SensePro cooktop, which is the top model, they get both the fry and boil features, as well as a battery-less, wireless temperature probe which constantly reads the internal temperature of the food, regulating temperatures to keep cooking on the right track. It also featured a touchscreen control panel, which is home to recipes and temperature controls. I really like this product. They are covering off a few of the main pitfalls of cooking. Anything that makes it simpler to get great results has my approval.

As for Electrolux, their main kitchen focus was on their connected ovens, with a demonstration room dedicated to their partnership with Google. The closed room allowed them to demonstrate how you can use their ovens with voice control to navigate through the whole cooking cycle. They also showed off the oven’s built-in camera, and it’s ability to share to social media. Innit’s partnerships also extend beyond Electrolux and AEG, with GE, Bosch, Beko and LG currently tied up, and more in the pipeline. Consumers will be able to connect with a whole host of connected ovens and appliances through this app, and even order their groceries through it.

Miele also had its Dialog oven, which now adds electromagnetic waves (like a microwave) to the existing cooking functions. Essentially, the waves read the texture and surface of the food, adjusting the cooking mode and temperature accordingly. It works alongside the fan and the heat in the oven cavity for the best results possible. Although the technology is similar to that of a microwave, the Dialog oven uses the technology in a less aggressive way, and doesn’t blast food like a microwave.

Miele also announced their partnership with MChef, a meal delivery startup out of their native Germany. The premise is that you order your food by 12:30pm, and it’s all delivered the next day, ready to work with the recipe app and the oven. The ingredients actually come prepared on porcelain plates. Consumers merely remove the wrapping, and tell the app what they’re cooking. That’s it! This is the way to get the most out of your Dialog oven, although it will no doubt come at a price. Miele are launching this in select regions in Germany, before rolling out nationwide. Although Miele haven’t released pricing for their MChef service, already the oven is priced way above these countertop options, and also has the need to be built-in.

The thing I had hoped to see was more US startups making a play for Europe. There’s some great technology coming out of the US, as always, and the European market is ready for it all. The likes of Anova and ChefSteps have their products available on Amazon, but I want more from them. I want to see these products taking root in the department stores, electrical and specialist cooking stores that are so popular in Europe. Meal service is gaining popularity in the UK too, so the likes of Nomiku, Suvie and Tovala could really be making it work. I hope to see more products like this at IFA in the future. Connected kitchens are growing with real force in Europe, and their presence across the board at IFA 2018 highlights that. There was so much attention on them, and far less on the traditional kitchen appliances. It spells it out perfectly. Now is the time to get connected in the kitchen.

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