What the Kitchen of the Future Will Look Like
In the Space-Age euphoria of the mid-20th century, the "kitchen of the future" imagined by appliance makers (and cartoons like The Jetsons) offered harried housewives (men didn't do kitchens) a fantasy of push-button meals on demand, robot helpers, talking appliances and bottomless coffee dispensers. At the time, this vision was about as grounded in reality as the flying cars we were also promised. Today, our kitchen of the future reflects more than wishful thinking. We spoke with appliance makers, kitchen designers and trend spotters to identify how changes in technology, demographics and lifestyle—not to mention the climate—will impact what your kitchen will look like in 10 years. As the U.S. population skews older, more urban and more single, items dubbed "kitchen essentials" will be radically redefined—with many opting to forgo traditional, full-size, single-function appliances in favor of compact, multitasking alternatives (pressure cookers are one example of multitasker we can get behind). City and suburban kitchens alike will become automated, capable of learning, energy-efficient and integrated with the rest of the home—getting closer to the push-button dreams of the last century. And you may even get your robot.
13 New Technologies Coming Soon to a Kitchen Near You
A. The Integrated Kitchen App
While smart appliances are already in the marketplace, a unified "Kitchen OS" will not only let your smart refrigerator talk to your smart oven (and smartphone), but will also use artificial intelligence to automate meal planning and cooking based on your likes, dislikes and dietary needs.
B. At-Home Water-from-Air Generator
As global warming makes regions in the West and Southwest even drier, water rationing could make "DIY water" solutions essential kitchen gear. The Watergen "Genny" device [not yet available] scours indoor air for available moisture and turns it into drinkable water.
C. Compact "Turbo" Oven
Powerful, portable countertop ovens could replace built-in units in many kitchens, especially urban ones. The new Brava oven hints at what's possible—aiming high-intensity light rays to simultaneously cook different foods at different temperatures, and cutting cooking times by half or more.
D. Electric Tea Kettle
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory predicts that by 2050 as fossil fuels run out, electricity will power up to 94% of all home cooking. By then, most Americans will have discovered the European-style speed and efficiency of boiling water in a plug-in countertop kettle.
E. Facial Recognition Smart Pet Bowl
In 2018, Americans spent over $72 billion on pets and the number is rising. The trend has fueled everything from pet-food delivery services to tech like the Mookkie smart pet-food dispenser, due out later this year, which uses facial recognition to make sure that pets eat only their own kibble.
F. Composting Device
Small electric composters like the Zera Food Recycler could be a mainstay of kitchens, drastically reducing waste by churning food scraps—including meat and dairy—into houseplant-ready compost overnight.
Read more: How to Compost at Home
G. Kitchen "Co-bot"
By 2030, robots like Samsung's Bot Chef (shown at this year's Consumer Electronics Show) will chop, mix, lift and pour in many homes, a game-changer for the 61% of older adults who want to age at home but will need help with the physical demands of cooking.
H. 3D Food Printer
In 10 years, devices like the countertop 3D printer now available from Foodini will reduce waste by "up-printing" day-old bread or "ugly" produce into baked or dehydrated snacks. On a larger scale, this model will help ease food insecurity.
I. Countertop Dishwasher
As the numbers of untethered apartment dwellers, singles and seniors in Europe grow, a "BYO appliance" trend is taking off, says Richard Hoare, design & innovation director at Breville. By 2030, devices like Heatworks' Tetra countertop (and portable) dishwasher will be common in the U.S. too.
J. RF Oven
Full-size ovens will be automated, connected, multifunctional and fast. Miele's new Dialog is the first consumer appliance to employ radiofrequency (RF) technology, using electromagnetic waves to cook food precisely and up to 70% faster. Electric heating elements ensure professional results when baking and roasting.
K. Multitasking Water Faucet
By 2030, specialty faucets (like Zip Water's new HydroTap Celsius All-in-One) will provide chilled, boiling and carbonated water—even milk or coffee—on demand. Concerns about municipal water supplies will lead to adoption of advanced filtration systems that include toxin sensing.
L. Personal Pots and Pans
Today, some 28% of American households are just one person, up from 13% in the 1960s. This demographic is expected to continue growing and manufacturers will respond with offerings ranging from mini appliances and food portions to personal-size grill pans and Dutch ovens.
M. Kitchen Island
As lines between kitchen and living room continue to blur, the island will remain at the center, surrounded by "lounge-y" couches, coffee tables and even carpeted floors. Adding to the ambiance, finishes that mimic timber or stone will allow appliances to blend into the living space seamlessly.
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Adam Bluestein writes about innovation in business and technology, health care, sustainability and food. He is a frequent contributor to Fast Company and Inc.
October 2019 EatingWell