Smart Kitchens: The Next Evolution of the Smart Home

by Patrice Samuels | Mar. 14, 2017

Smart kitchens represent the next wave of the smart home evolution. For the past two years, large appliance manufacturers, including GE Appliances, Samsung, LG, and Whirlpool have used the consumer electronics show to showcase elaborate plans for residential kitchens. If these innovations live up to the hype, our future kitchens will study our patterns of behavior as well as our preferences and perform many kitchen-based activities on our behalf.

Rollout of first-generation smart appliances has already begun. Consumers now have access to smart ovens that can be programmed remotely and automatically program cooking setting for various recipes. Smart refrigerators that allow consumers to view refrigerator contents remotely and notify consumers if the door has been left open are also now available.

The rollout of smart kitchens devices and appliances has, however, been sluggish and only approximately 5% of U.S. broadband households report owning them.  A primary challenge facing smart appliance manufacturers is to identify the value propositions or use-cases that have strong mass market appeal. Since the first generation of these products have been released, manufacturers have continuously reworked their use cases to improve their value.

In the report Smart Kitchens, Intelligent Planning, Shopping, and Cooking, Parks Associates identifies and ranks the appeal of a broad range of smart appliance use cases—some of which are already incorporated into devices already on the market and some of which are still in the conceptual stage.

Even among these use cases, appeal of many smart kitchen appliances remains lukewarm. This is partly due to the consumer awareness and technical challenges that have plagued the smart home market generally. But concept of the smart kitchen is unique—it’s an emotional place. The kitchen is often a gathering place for families in the home and many family gatherings revolve around food preparation and consumption. Technology development in the kitchen must fall into the background. Therefore, while consumers may enjoy reduced food preparation times and the automation of certain processes, smart kitchen products that streamline the meal preparation process too much and stifle consumer creativity may be a hard sell.

Another consideration is that the purchase of a smart appliance is a substantial investment for most consumers and replacement rates are usually slower than other home products that utilize technology. Smart kitchen appliances must be architected in such a way that they do not become obsolete during their product lifetime. As the ecosystem around the smart kitchen evolves, so must smart appliances. Manufacturers must leverage software and other technologies that can be updated to allow smart appliances to remain compatible in the ecosystem in which they operate.

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Next: HomeAdvisor: The smart home is not a one-size fits all solution
Previous: Understanding Growth in the Smart Home - Parks Associates Research Workshop

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