Smart Appliances, Home Automation and the Future of Your Kitchen

Five years after the smartphone revolution put devices in our pockets that connected us all, the Internet of things is connecting our objects.

Soon, the kitchen will be the smartest room in a person's home.

The Internet of Things is a loosely defined concept that revolves around using the Internet to animate and coordinate objects and systems that were previously considered inanimate. One technology publication described the Internet of Things as a very near future filled with "tiny, intelligent things all around us, coordinating their activities. Coffeepots that talk to alarm clocks. Thermostats that talk to motion sensors. Factory machines that talk to the power grid and to boxes of raw material."

Here are five home automation products from the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show that will forever change the modern kitchen.

1. Touchscreen Stovetop 

The CES saw the introduction of a prototype cooktop that uses conduction to heat pots and pans. This method only heats the metal pot but leaves the stove top cool to the touch. Budding chefs can literally put their cookbook right on top of the surface they're using to cook. The touchscreen cooking surface allows users to browse Twitter for recipes or pin what they're cooking to Pinterest with a single swipe.

2. Wi-Fi Refrigerator 

If the cook's hands are full, he or she can make and receive calls from a voice-activated Wi-Fi screen embedded in the fridge or look up a recipe on Google. The makers hope that the fridge will become the centerpiece of the kitchen, even enabling the transfer of TV programming from other rooms directly to its screen.

3. The Unified Kitchen App 

This app can turn a smartphone or tablet into a maestro for the entire kitchen, connecting every appliance into one central "discussion". By taking inventory of its ingredients, the fridge suggests a recipe and then tells the oven when to preheat to a specified temperature, depending on how long it will take to prep the food for cooking.

4. The New Kitchen Thermometer

This kitchen thermometer probe is jabbed directly into cooking food just like an old-fashioned thermometer. The difference, however, is that this version sends data back over wifi to a centralized computer, which then tells the oven to heat up or cool down. It has multiple probes for big items like turkeys or for monitoring more than one dish.

5. Home Chat 

Home Chat is an app that requires its users to do something that could have gotten them institutionalized just a few years ago: talk to their appliances. When a homeowner sends a text message to their fridge, it will send one back.

— "Are there any eggs left?"

— "Yes. We still have 4 eggs."


— "Is any food about to expire?"

— "Yes. You should finish the roast beef in the next 24 hours."

A person can text their coffee maker from work to find out what kind of espresso beans are already ground. If they like the answer it sends back, they can ask it to have a cup ready when they return home.

Five years after the smartphone revolution put devices in our pockets that connected us all, the Internet of things is connecting our objects — starting in the kitchen. The greatest new kitchen gadgets and appliances are the ones that will be able to coordinate with each other without any pesky human intervention.

This article and its content are sponsored by Mitsubishi Electric US Inc., Cooling & Heating Division. 

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