Smart kitchen appliances set to hit the mass market

Thomas Cooper, founder and MD of tech start-up Pantri, was at the CES show in Las Vegas to see how kitchen appliances are getting smarter


I’ve just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. While for many weeks of the year, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, for one week every January, it is often destined to end up in the hands of consumers across the globe.

The kitchen appliance tech is broadly on par with that shown at IFA in Germany. Having covered my thoughts on that in the October issue of kbbreview, I am pleased to say that a lot has happened in the four months since that show, with a lot of the connected tech on display – moving away from a non-working interface to a prototype that actually functions.

Of particular note was the addition of smart screens in more than a few places. Many manufacturers were displaying fridge screens and Bosch had its PAI screen on display, which puts an interface on to your worktop – arguably the best option, as there’s no screen to get dirty.

GE and Haier had a 27in screen set into a cooker hood with a range of recipe start-ups displaying the possibilities to the world’s media.

Kitchen Aid even displayed its own version of the Google Home tablet. The link to KitchenAid will no doubt help broaden the perceived possibilities of these devices.

There were also a lot more devices that seemed to have Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice functionality, mirroring what Electrolux had on display at IFA last year. Expect to be talking to your oven to set the temperature and cooking mode pretty soon.

The general assumption among all participants that I spoke to was that connected appliances are now on the precipice of hitting the mainstream.

Speaking to the top brass from a lot of manufacturers, it was clear that aside from voice control, they’re all trying to mimic Michelin-starred chefs’ cooking digitally.

Another interesting observation was that a lot more of the appliances on sale in local retailers seemed already to be wi-fi-enabled.

Being somewhat of an appliance geek, I was pleasantly surprised when I visited Best Buy (the US equivalent of Currys) in both Las Vegas and Vancouver, Canada, where a lot of appliances were on display with wi-fi built in. It appears they’re a few years ahead of Europe.

Having spoken to decision-makers at many of the brands, they informed me that in the next year or so, the same technology would be rolling out en masse across European models. So brace yourselves, change is coming to UK shores pretty soon.

Between the flying taxis and quirky tech you never realised you needed, there was a general vibe at the show that with a lot of sectors – including the smart kitchen – things are shifting from the possibilities of tech in the coming decade to actioning the first steps.

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