When you hear the term “smart home,” it’s easy for your mind to immediately go to smart lights, thermostats, locks, hubs, etc. Imagining how your living area might become a connected web of devices isn’t hard to do now — especially with the rise in popularity of smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home and soon to be, Apple Home Pod. Imagining your living area as one connected web of devices, all working and communicating with each other, isn’t hard to do these days. But, what about other areas of your home? What about the most trafficked area (for a large portion of the population) and “the heart of your home” – the kitchen.
Kitchens play a huge role in our everyday lives. It’s where we prepare and enjoy meals. It’s where we spend time with friends and family, and it’s where some pretty valuable memories can be made. It’s also where some very essential technology resides – the refrigerator, the oven, dishwasher, coffee maker, toaster, and so much more.
Sure, these appliances have served their functions perfectly well with minor iterations over the last couple of decades, but a new wave of devices have begun to surface. Now you have the opportunity to expand your smart home into your kitchen, improving their day-to-day utility, making your life a little bit easier. And really, that’s what it’s all about. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits to having smart appliances in your “smart kitchen”, and what products you can look for to make it happen.
Maintain Safety and Control of Your Stove
One of the most widely-used appliances in your kitchen is the stove/range, and it can also be one of the most dangerous. Bringing internet connectivity to your stove/range has many benefits. With most, you can remotely turn them on and off, check temperature and more – great for those of us (me included) who can be a little forgetful at times. On top of the added control, one of the most important improvements is an added level of safety.
So if you think a smart stove is something you could use, what’re your options?
Yes, this a pricey addition to your new smart kitchen, but this Samsung stove has a lot packed in to back up that price tag. Now the point of this write-up isn’t to get into the details of how quickly your stove can heat up, or how efficiently it will cook your roast. Cooking specs aside, Samsung’s stove has quite a few smart features that should peak your interest.
As with most of the items on this list, this stove is Wifi connected. It’s controlled via Samsung’s Smart Home app which enables you to perform a host of functions from wherever you are. As you might expect, you can power your stove on and off with the app. You can also adjust the temperature of the oven. So if you’re on your way home from the office and you need your oven to be heated by the time you get there, that’s no problem. Let’s say you just finished cooking, and you’re now relaxing somewhere else in the house. Suddenly that shudder of doubt arises and you wonder if you left on a burner. With Samsung’s Smart Home app, you can quickly see if you did commit such a heinous act. Unfortunately, however, you can’t power the burner off from your phone.
One other nice addition is that this smart stove comes with a “probe” that you can monitor from within the app. All you do is insert said probe into whatever you happen to be cooking, and you can see how close your food is to reaching the desired temperature.
In case you don’t fancy a fancy Samsung stove, here’s another option for you to check out.
GE’s Wifi oven has very similar features to what you’ll find with the Samsung’s, with a price tag that’s a little easier to swallow, which could save you some real money when it comes to making your dream smart kitchen. With Wifi Connect, GE’s cross-device smart home app, you can easily power your oven on and off, change the temperature, set reminders and more. As an added benefit, GE’s smart oven also works with Amazon Echo and IFTTT. So not only can you use your voice to turn the oven on and off, but you can also take advantage of some IFTTT recipes to turn your oven off whenever you leave the house, or trigger your Phillips Hue lights to flash when the oven has finished preheating.
Keep your fridge freshly-stocked.
Moving on from cooking your food, and into storing your food, let’s take a look at smart refrigerators. Having one of these will bring along quite a few benefits. First and foremost, it takes the guesswork out of trying to remember what you need from the store when you go. Outside of that, appliance manufacturers have found creative ways to take advantage of the fact that the refrigerator is the most interacted with device in your kitchen. If you’re interested in bringing a smart refrigerator into your new smart kitchen, here’s a few of the best on the market.
As the name of this product suggests, the refrigerator acts a hub for many families. It’s where you hang calendars, pin up bills that need to be paid, leave notes for your kids or spouse, and display pictures of your family members near and far. Big Sammy has gone all in on this fact, and brought things into the digital age with their Family Hub refrigerator.
Straight out the gate, you’ll notice this ‘fridge comes with a hefty price tag. This model isn’t quite as high as their smart oven, but high nonetheless. But, that’s because, like the amount of food you can store, there are a ton of features packed into this beast. For starters, there are 3 built-in cameras inside the ‘fridge. So, like I mentioned before, you can take the guesswork out of identifying items you’re low on by viewing the contents of your smart refrigerator from anywhere via your phone. This only the tip of the iceberg.
The monster 21.5″ touchscreen display on the front of the refrigerator is where the magic happens. This practically a full-fledged Samsung tablet built into the refrigerator. Here, you can perform a myriad of tasks which include adding items to your shopping list to view on your portable devices later, adding items to your online ordering shopping cart, send real-time updates to whomever is out shopping in case you forgot something on your list, or even order delivery in case you want to skip grocery shopping altogether.
Putting the emphasis on “hub” – Samsung has integrated a wealth of other apps and functionalities to really get the most bang for your buck. Taking what an ordinary ‘fridge could do, and modernizing that means that you can now store digital notes for others to see, sync multiple family members’ calendars, display interactive photo albums, and create digital to-do lists. Each member of your family can have their own unique screen name and avatar with which you will interact with the ‘fridge.
Lastly, Samsung’s smart refrigerator acts as a full blown entertainment device. With it, you can stream Spotify, Pandora and Tune-In Radio to enjoy some tunes while you cook. If you have a Samsung TV, you can even mirror what’s playing so you won’t miss the action when you step into the kitchen for more popcorn. This thing truly does it all.
Oh, and it keeps your food cool.
Though Samsung’s Family Hub takes the cake when it comes to feature-rich smart refrigerators, there are other options for you to choose from.
A couple of years back, LG made a refrigerator that was comparable to Samsung’s Family Hub when it comes to the features it offered, but it has since been discontinued. The LG InstaView line of refrigerators represent their latest and greatest now. Though this isn’t really a “smart” refrigerator, it has one really cool feature that is pretty smart in my book. The large pane of glass on the front of the refrigerator offers you a peak inside to see what you’re in need of. Simply knock twice on the glass window, and the contents of the ‘fridge will be illuminated so you can have a look. This is one of the many built-in enhancements that make this a very energy-conscious product with the goal of keeping in the cool air and saving you a few bucks.
Similar to their smart oven, GE’s Café Series refrigerators use their Wifi Connect system to provide smart utility to the user. With the Wifi Connect app, you can interact with your ‘fridge in quite a number of ways from your phone. This includes getting alerts with the temperature is too high or the door is left open, adjusting the temperature, turning the ice maker on and off, or initiating hot water heating. Yes, I said hot water heating. This particular model actually has the ability to dispense hot water in case you like a cup of tea in the morning or evening. And, on top of that, there is a built-in K-Cup brewing system!
Like their smart oven, the Café Series refrigerator works with Alexa and IFTTT to bring added functionality such as being able to increase the ‘fridge’s temperature when a power outage is likely to help preserve your food. Take a look at what else you can do with Alexa and IFTTT.
Always have a fresh cup of Joe.
I don’t know about you, but my morning hasn’t officially started until I’ve had a dose of caffeine. For most people, a normal coffee maker does the job just fine, but for those of us who seemingly can’t live without it, or who just appreciate a quality cup, something a little more advanced is a welcome addition to the smart kitchen. With a smart coffee maker, you never have to go without that precious commodity for any longer than you choose. Need that in your life? Check out some of your options below.
For those who cherish a great cup of coffee and who want a few extra smart features to go along with it, the Behmor Connected Coffee Brewer is the perfect machine. Now, this pairing of a quality brew and high-tech controls comes at a price. But, if you’re willing to take a hit to your wallet, you’ll be delighted by what you get.
For starters, the entire brewing experience is controlled via the Behmor app. From within the app, you can perform functions such as set schedules, accurately adjust brewing temperatures and brewing amount, as well as select from specific brewing profiles to get the perfect cup of coffee.
Back to the quality of the coffee, Behmor has spent a lot of time finding all of the ways they could improve the quality of your cup. The coffee maker has a wide shower head that has a pulsing feature to completely saturate your coffee grounds. Your grounds can also be pre-soaked prior to brewing to elevate the flavor profiles.
This is a great choice if you want a smart coffee maker and a great cup of joe.
The Behmor Connected Coffee Brewer isn’t the only great product available. Take a look at another option below.
The Mr. Coffee Smart Optimal Brew machine comes in at a lower price than the Behmor, making it a great budget option for your smart kitchen. It’s more of what you would expect from a normal drip coffee maker, but with integrated Wifi capabilities. Unlike the Behmor, Mr. Coffee’s connected brewer does not have a proprietary app, but instead uses WeMo’s smart home app. As you might expect, you can use the app to schedule brew times, and you can also start a brew from the office, or on you way home if you need to get rush of caffeine the minute you walk in the door. Some may be excited to see that there are physical controls on this product as well, whereas the Behmor requires that you use the app for any kind of real control.
Elevate your cooking with smart accessories.
Rounding out your smart kitchen, there are an abundance of what I would consider “accessories” to your cooking experience that offer significant value. Adding any one of these items to your smart kitchen collection will elevate your finished product, and will impress your friends and family at the same time.
If you’ve never heard of a sous vide machine – you’re welcome. Sous vide cookers basically allow you to precisely heat water to the exact temperature required to cook your food items perfectly every time. Most sous vide cookers are relatively small and are inserted into any pot of water to do the cooking; no range required. The Anova Precision Sous Vide Cooker does just this, but adds in a little smart functionality to take your sous vide cooking to another level.
With Anova’s device, you can control your cooking from anywhere, so you’re not glued to the kitchen while your food is being prepared. Additionally, you can control this device with Amazon Echo do things like set the temperature, cook specific types of foods and find out how long your food has been cooking.
Many items on this list have pretty significant price tags, but this product, in comparison to its size, takes the cake. The June Smart Oven is a serious cooking machine. Given its small size, and carbon fiber heating elements, the device heats up extremely quick so you aren’t spending so much time waiting around pop in your food. On top of that, it features dual convection fans which help your food cook quickly and evenly, and it also helps you adjust temperatures faster. This is much more than a toaster oven.
Cooking features aside, the June Smart Oven has a range of smart features that earn it a spot on this list. The oven itself has a 5″ touch display and “precision knob” on its front, but it’s also fully-controllable via the iOS app (sorry, no Android here). With the app, you can adjust the oven’s temperature, get alerted when it has finished heating, and also stream live video from the oven’s built-in HD camera to see how your food is progressing. If watching your food cook isn’t really your thing, the June Oven will still make use of that camera with what they call Food ID. This feature uses the HD camera, along with “artificial intelligence” to identify the types of food you are cooking and adjust settings accordingly. Finally, this smart oven has a built-in food thermometer that you can monitor via the app to pull your food out as soon as it reaches the perfect temperature.
If you have the bills for it, this is an amazing addition to any smart kitchen – especially if you’re an iOS user.
Last, but certainly not least on our list of smart kitchen accessories is the Amazon Echo. By now, it’s highly likely that you’re familiar with this device, but in case your not, this “smart speaker” makes an excellent sous chef. At a very basic level, you can have Alexa (the built-in voice assistant) set a timer to alert you when food is done cooking, convert measurements when you’re reading a recipe, or search the internet for the appropriate internal temperature of a piece of chicken or pork to make sure it’s fully cooked.
Taking things up a notch, the Amazon Echo is capable of integrating with many of the products on this list, as you may have read. By using IFTTT recipes, or direct integrations via WiFi, and the Amazon Alexa app, you can use your voice to power on your devices, set cooking temperatures, brew a pot of coffee and much much more. You can also let Alexa be your guide when it comes to finding recipes and adding items to your shopping cart when you begin to run low on ingredients.
Of course if you aren’t keen on the idea of having Amazon in your Smart Kitchen, there are plenty of other smart assistant options also worth exploring.
The kitchen is where many families spend the majority of their time. As technology continues to advance, and more products get “smart” functionalities, having connected smart kitchen appliances is going to quickly become commonplace. Now’s still what I would consider an “early adopter phase.” Prices for appliances that have these smart functionalities are still quite pricey, and the barrier to entry is still high. But, if you’re fortunate enough, and interested enough, there are certainly a slew of products to equip your smart kitchen with. And, at the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with starting small with item like Amazon Echo or the Anova Precision Sous Vide Cooker to get you going, and then working your way up from there.
What smart kitchen items do you have in your home? We’d love to hear how you are making use of the technology and if there is anything that we should add to our list!