Pervasive wireless internet has touched almost every aspect of our everyday lives and, in some engineering and software development circles, that means the era of the Internet of Things is upon us. In fact, talk of the Internet of Things has become so ubiquitous as to be near unremarkable. After all, if it has a wireless chip in it, it’s part of the Internet of Things.
While the Internet of Things (IoT) is routinely touted as the “future”, there are some places where connected technology hasn’t really made too much of a dent as of yet.
We’ve seen how home security has been greatly enhanced by the ability to dial into your cameras from anywhere at any time, but while much of the home and business environment has been improved by the effortless integration and analytics of the IoT, there remains one holdout: the kitchen.
According to Intel, there will be more than 200 billion smart objects on earth by 2020, a stunning 26 smart devices per person on earth. However, though there are thousands of connected kitchen devices available, we’ve yet to see a truly must-own piece of connected kitchenware. So, what’s holding back the Internet of Things from dominating the kitchen space today?
A lack of compelling use cases
If the IoT is ever to truly succeed, products will need to be launched which do their job far better than a traditional “dumb” kitchen items. To date, few such products have launched. While the ability to tell your coffee machine to start brewing as you finish work is nice, it’s far from the sort of essential use case which would inspire the purchase of a $200 coffee maker over a $50 one for most people.
New products are launching, though, which greatly improve the efficacy of niche kitchen items. For example, the SMOBOT Robotic Grill & Smoker Controller enables automatic temperature control on most Kamado-style grills and smokers. It seems quite smart for IoT to target the BBQ fan demographic, which tend to be quite big fans of gadgets and advanced equipment, as compared to the average home cook. By offering a chance to reproduce smoked grill experiences like those whipped up by Deliveroo chefs across the country to hobbyists, SMOBOT might be on to a good strategy. After all, grilling and smoking do not only involve meat but also vegetables and sides, and precision is the name of the game in this field. The IoT has a distinct advantage in niche, often complicated, cooking jobs where automation and intelligent design can alleviate much of the guesswork. For many, this will be their way into kitchen IoT.
Infrequent object replacement
We don’t know about you, but our kitchen? Well, it’s full of stuff that we’ve held on to for well over a decade. Pots, pans, cutlery – you name it, it’s still in use. We’d wager that for the vast majority of us that that’s the case too. We simply don’t go out of our way to replace these utilitarian objects until they’re broken.
It’s for this reason why the uptake in kitchen IoT has been so slow. Young people are inclined to spend as little as possible on kitchenware due to restricted finances and older people already have a large collection of it. It leaves an uncomfortable gap for manufacturers swallowing the cost of IoT design and integration where costs remain high and demand may never be as high as it is for, say, a new smartphone.
The irony of the situation is that, in theory, the kitchen could be revolutionized by the IoT, with everything from your fridge monitoring food health to your oven automatically checking the internal temperature of your food and compensating either way. The potential is vast, but until the issues listed above are tackled, we’re unlikely to see the kitchen of the future any time soon.