When we talk about kitchen trends, we’re usually referring to what sort of design styles are expected to hit it big, or perhaps which gadgets and small appliances are finding their way into homes across the country. Lately, though, there’s a whole new realm of trends that fall under one umbrella: smart products.
What are Smart Products?
Smart products are essentially connected products, and they are increasingly found in homes in a variety of forms. Some of the most popular include the Nest Learning Thermostat, iRobot Roomba, and digital personal assistants like Alexa (via Amazon Echo).
For homes already using Amazon Alexa, finding compatible connected devices helps users have a seamless experience with smart home devices. However, not all smart home products have to work with digital personal assistants. In fact, many simply use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity to let you control them through your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
As we saw at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, smart products show no signs of slowing down. That means that for every room of the house, there are any number of smart devices available that, theoretically, will make your life easier. So what does this mean for the kitchen? Let’s take a look.
The up and coming tech aims to reduce the amount of time and energy you put into cooking. For example, some future appliances will sense the food and automatically cook it for you. At CES this year, smart appliances were the primary kitchen-based tech taking center stage. These new devices perform functions like guided cooking based on recipes, respond to voice activation, and help you keep track of what’s in your fridge and pantry.
On a smaller scale, and more realistically for most of us, smart, connected devices are more likely to appear in kitchens as small appliances or gadgets. Perhaps someday we’ll all have talking refrigerators and microwaves like the ones in Back to the Future Part II, but for now let’s look at the some of the smart devices you can buy today.
Smart Coffee & Espresso Machines
Of course there are smart coffee makers. There are few things worse for a coffee drinker than having to prepare coffee before you’ve had any. That’s why programmable coffee machines have been around so long. Smart coffee makers take it to the next level and offer features like the ability to start brewing from your phone and notifications when the coffee’s ready.
The Behmor Connected Brewing System is compatible with Alexa, or you can download the app to work with your phone. Through the app, you can make all kinds of adjustments to your coffee brewing (such as temperature) and you can either schedule the brew time or start it when you wake up.
Reviews of this coffee maker are mixed, however. It undoubtedly makes a good cup of coffee, but many users report connectivity and usage issues. Given the price (around $170), it seems like this device should function well and be worth the money. For some buyers, it just isn’t.
In terms of connectivity and app usage, the Nespresso Expert Espresso Machine provides similar options to the Behmor. With the app, you can schedule/start brewing, customize your brew, and be alerted when your drink is ready to go. However, it comes at a much higher price point (and brews espresso-based beverages), but offers plenty more options and much better reviews.
- Smarter 12 Cup Wifi Coffee Maker: Brand new, but one to watch for
- Brewgenie Smart Coffee Maker: Affordable, but some not-great reviews
Other Smart Beverage Machines
While these aren’t for everyone, there are a few beverage-related “smart” products out there. Here are a few:
- Brita Medium 8 Cup Infinity Smart Water Pitcher and Filter
- NutriBullet Balance, Bluetooth Enabled Smart Blender
- Smarter Electric iKettle
- Perfect Drink PRO Smart Scale + Recipe App – Mix Perfect Cocktails at Home
Smart Slow Cookers
Smart slow cookers is another product that, like coffee makers, makes a lot of sense to me. Slow cooking requires some level of engagement, which many devices address by automatically turning to “warm” after a certain amount of cooking time has passed.
But the Crock-Pot Wemo Smart Wifi-Enabled Slow Cooker offers a different option. With this device, you can use the app to schedule, monitor, and modify your cooking, and you can receive notifications about the meal.
The popular multi-cooker Instant Pot has one connected option: the Instant Pot Bluetooth 6 Quart 7-in-1. This product offers app connectivity that has different options like guided cooking and custom programs.
Smart Sous Vide Cooker
The sous vide immersion circulator is among the most popular connected smart devices for the kitchen right now. These gadgets let you cook sous vide, which essentially entails vacuum sealing food and using an immersion circulator to control the temp of the water bath it’s cooking in. The meat is heated to the desired temp and held there. The results are perfectly cooked meats with the best kind of textures.
Smart sous vide cookers utilize apps to start and stop cooking, so you can be away from the pot and still control the situation. Wifi connection and using an app aren’t requirements for sous vide cooking, but they sure make it simpler. Many of the latest in immersion circulators are connected, so there are plenty to choose from.
Here are a few:
- Supreme Sous Vide Thermal Immersion Circulator (Most affordable)
- ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide (Best reviewed)
- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker
- Nomiku WiFi Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
The Future of Smart Kitchens
These are just a few of the most popular items currently available. There are also smart kitchen scales to make baking (and dieting) easier, smart cooking systems to help you learn how to cook better, and fully automated beer brewing systems.
Based on the most recent articles (and the trends at CES), many of the forthcoming products will probably be compatible with ecosystems like Amazon Alexa. Other predictions include more devices that facilitate guided cooking, digital sensing, and plenty of voice interfaces.
With many more connected and smart devices sure to debut in the coming years, it’s likely that we’ll be changing the way we cook and manage our kitchens. What smart products are you looking forward to?