How much are a few extra minutes worth to you in the kitchen? If you’re racing to get out the door in the morning, maybe to catch the 7:27 train into the city or to get the kids to school, they’re probably worth a lot. Likewise, if the extra minutes are the difference between a perfectly cooked meal and one that’s sat in the oven too long.
Security and convenience are the most common benefits of smart home technology. But time management is another major upside, especially in kitchens. No wonder designers are embracing the technology like never before. Indeed, smart home technology, including appliances that can be programmed remotely and voice-controlled faucets and light fixtures, was identified as a key emerging trend in the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s most recent Kitchen & Bath Design Trends report.
What’s more, real estate agents are starting to tout smart home technology in their sales listings, alongside popular features like hardwood flooring and outdoor entertainment spaces. So besides making your home more efficient while you live there, smart technology will increase its value when the time comes to sell.
Manufacturers have introduced several smart kitchen technologies innovations that emphasize time savings and convenience. Take smart refrigerators. Several models feature built-in cameras that let you check the contents from the supermarket, saving you a trip when you discover you’re out of milk, eggs or some other must-have ingredient. We’re also seeing fridges with embedded LCD screens that make it possible to have groceries delivered to your doorstep without leaving the kitchen; the screens also let you browse recipes, sync family calendars and more.
Smart cooking appliances are another potential time saver. Wi-Fi-controlled ranges, for example, allow you to preheat the oven remotely, so it will be ready to go when you get home with the frozen pizza, or whatever else is on the menu for dinner. So-called scan-to-cook technology is another smart innovation found on new ranges and microwaves; simply scan the barcode on the packaged meal and the appliance takes it from there, setting the correct temperature and cooking time – and even pinging your phone when dinner is ready.
As for gadgets, consider investing in a Wi-Fi-connected meat thermometer. The device lets you track internal meat temperatures on your phone, letting you focus on other tasks while dinner is in the oven – and ensuring perfect results every time.
Then there’s voice control, a technology that’s finding its way into the kitchen through smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. These “digital assistants” can perform an array of cooking-related kitchen tasks. They also enable hands-free control of other kitchen components. For example, you can turn the lights or kitchen faucet on and off by voice command, helpful when your hands are busy with meal prep.
The nice thing about today’s smart kitchen technology is that it’s optional. If you, or others in your home, like to do things the old-fashioned way (checking the contents of the fridge before you hit the store, for example, or turning lights on at the wall switch), that’ll work. When you’re ready to take advantage of the intelligence, your smart kitchen will be ready.
By Dan DiClerico, HomeAdvisor. Dan DiClerico is a reporter for HomeAdvisor, an online marketplace connecting homeowners with trusted service professionals to complete home projects. Visit HomeAdvisor.com.