Monday, February 9, 2009

Thinking of Connected Kitchens

The kitchen has been the center of the home — a place where families not only eat, but where they can gather to talk about their day — for several generations.
With technology becoming more prominent in homes, “connected kitchens” with their technologically advanced appliances and networking are adding convenience and smart technology to cooking, shopping and other household needs.
Connected appliances have been in the market for more than a decade, but until now Internet-connected refrigerators, washers and dryers and even microwave ovens have not worked or been as popular as they could have been, which has dampened the popularity of the connected kitchen.
It's not that consumers don't want connected devices in their kitchen, however. The Internet Home Alliance, a cross-industry network of leading companies advancing the connected home market, has conducted research that found consumers want six key technologies in their kitchens:
* A home control station* An energy usage monitoring and control system* Wireless Internet access* A recipe projection system* A digital calendar* A universal charging station
These controls are in addition to appliances such as refrigerators and ovens that will enable homeowners to begin preparing their meals before getting home.
While control and monitoring have been the major focus of kitchen connectivity until now, audio/visual, information-sharing and entertainment-oriented technologies are emerging in the connected kitchen as well.
The following are several technologies that are becoming increasingly popular in the connected kitchen:
* Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) — Radio-frequency identification enables various products to “talk” to each other and share information.* Touchscreen Computers — Computers with touchscreen control capabilities give home owners easy and convenient access to information from their kitchen counter or table.* Westinghouse PT-16H610S Flip LCD — This and similar high definition televisions are designed to be installed on kitchen countertops or to hang beneath kitchen cabinets. This particular model can swivel 180 degrees, has built-in speakers, weighs 7.7 pounds and can display photos.* Whirlpool Centralpark Refrigerator — Featuring a Wifi digital photo frame, iPod dock, hidden power port and Internet-connectivity, this refrigerator not only can eliminate the clutter of refrigerator magnets, it can upload and display photos and recipes and enable home owners to enjoy daily weather, sports and news updates with their morning coffee.* Concierge Services — AMX, Crestron, Control4 and Criteria are connected products that enable home owners to order concierge services, such as ordering groceries or making restaurant reservations, or having a car waiting or washed. Concierge services are becoming popular in communities with multi-dwelling units.* Miele's RemoteVision — This module features a small chip with wireless WLAN technology that can link appliances to a monitoring center that can notify the home owner via e-mail, a text message or phone call — when the refrigerator is open, the oven is on or other mishaps.* TMIO Intelligent Oven — This oven can be controlled remotely over the Internet and has the capabilities to keep food refrigerated during the day and enable the home owners to start cooking it before they get home.

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