What first comes to mind when you think of a smart home? Is it just a home filled with a lot of expensive, high-tech gadgets that look flashy, but don’t work together? In reality, the idea of a smart home is centered around making life easier for the people who live inside it. Connected devices, rather than becoming the center of attention, should instead work in the background to make it easier to manage a home.
One area of the house that we spend a lot of time in is the kitchen, and it could do with a little modernizing when it comes to cooking, cleaning and energy efficiency. We’ve researched the best smart tech that makes it easier to cook healthy, stock up on groceries, and easily clean up once you’re done cooking. An added benefit of this simplicity is energy optimization of kitchen appliances, saving you money and benefitting the environment.
Remove the Hassle of Eating Healthy
Eating healthy can be a challenge, especially when there’s so many fast food and fast casual options that appeal to base temptations.
For those looking to clean up their diets through portion control, meal planning, and home cooking, it can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start. Smart cooking tech fits seamlessly into the busy lives of working professionals or multi-tasking parents to help them make the most of every spare minute.
- Hello Egg is a device aimed at busy people who are new to cooking or need visual reminders as they are working through a recipe. Reminiscent of old-school egg kitchen timers, the Hello Egg can store shopping lists, meal plans and respond to voice commands. Perhaps its most innovative feature is the ability to display step-by-step visual cooking guides on its unique contoured LCD screen. That means you can still follow the recipe without touching a phone or tablet screen with your flour-coated hands.
- Drop is a food scale that does much more than just weigh ingredients for portion control. Forget to pick up broccoli on the way home? With its accompanying app, you can adjust recipes on the fly, depending on the ingredients you have on hand. This way, you don’t waste time driving to the store to pick up forgotten items. Have a gluten allergy or other dietary restrictions? GetDrop can also suggest ingredient substitutions so you can plan around dietary restrictions. Currently, it only supports Apple devices that are running on iOS 8 or higher.
Photo courtesy of Drop.
Cleaning You Can Set and Forget
Cleaning dirty kitchen floors can often seem like a never-ending task.
Smart cleaning tech like robotic vacuums and mops makes cleaning easier by automatically sensing corners and walls to clean up the endless crumbs that are dropped throughout the day.
iRobot's most famous automatic cleaner is the Roomba®, which uses built-in sensors and proprietary software to create a visual map of each room that it can navigate on its own. It can run for two hours on a full charge, meaning you can set it in the living room and let it do its thing while you go about your day. You can also expand your suite of automatic cleaning devices with iRobot's automatic mopper and pool cleaner.
Photo courtesy of iRobot.
Another robotic vacuum on the market is the Neato Bovac Connected, which works very similar to the Roomba,® but with a few additional perks. Its accompanying app allows you more control over where it cleans, and you can switch between modes if you want to conserve battery life.
Photo courtesy of Neato Robotics.
Monitor Energy Efficiency at the Source
Wouldn't it be nice to turn on your slow cooker remotely while at work so that dinner's ready when you get back?
What about checking to see how much energy your toaster oven drains when turned off, but still plugged into the outlet? Smart plugs give you the ability to remotely turn appliances on and off so you can better manage and control their energy efficiency.
A popular one is the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch, which offers robust programmability and energy monitoring. Once setup, it gives you real-time data on the overall power draw of an appliance, how long it has been on, and how much that will cost you.
The Zuli Smart Plug features a simpler setup through its app and incorporates sensing technology to automatically turn the lights on or off when you enter a room. It also features simple integration with the Nest Smart Thermostat, a bonus that other smart plugs don’t offer.
Photo courtesy of TechCrunch.
Keeping the Human Connection Intact
Building a smart home isn't just about the tech that goes inside it.
It’s about how that tech can eliminate tedium and make it easier to manage a home. Devices like the Hello Egg tap into people’s desire to eat healthier despite having a busy schedule. Robotic vacuums like the Roomba® are designed to operate on their own so cleaning becomes less of a daily chore.
In the future, these tech devices will become more automated and anticipate our needs before we can think of them. Sensors will be able to tell when the milk is going bad in the fridge and order a replacement. Lighting and streaming music systems will be auto-set to specific scenes that activate at a certain time or when you walk in the room. Above all, these devices are about enhancing, rather than replacing, the sense of connectedness and personalization that you can only experience in a home.