The rise of smart technology is powered by the desire to have every electronic home appliance controlled by one central app—how is this trend affecting our kitchens, cooking and food waste?
Every day, tech companies are forging new ways to connect the world. The rise of smart technology is powered by the desire to have every electronic home appliance controlled by one central app. You can turn your lights on while you're on your way home and even have your coffee freshly brewed as your alarm goes off: the utopian dream.
It is easy to dismiss such technology as unnecessary, but there is no denying its worldwide escalation. The demand for connected technology is growing rapidly alongside the expansion of the industry, with 15.4 billion devices in 2015 expected to grow to 75.4 billion in 2025. It's an epidemic; once you connect one device, you'll want to connect them all.
If there is one room in your house that you might think would be immune to this fervour, it would be the kitchen. Traditionally, the kitchen has provided structure to our days and hosted a time when people could sit and be together. The rituals surrounding meal times are—or at least used to be—incredibly unifying.
Life is very different today. Now, both men and women are working much more and there is no doubt that everyone is scrambling to save time wherever they can. In 2016, popular delivery service Deliveroo grew by 650 percent and some restaurants cook only for delivery orders.
People are beginning to favour ordering food over both eating out and cooking at home, in order to save time. For many, this time and energy saved by not having to cook can be a lifesaver, but for another large proportion of people, the time saved simply intensifies insular way of life.
Of course, there are still numerous people who prepare meals at home and even if you're not saving time, you are certainly saving elsewhere. Studies have shown that if you spend under an hour a day preparing your food at home then you will spend much more money on food outside (whether takeout or eating at restaurants) and consequently, you’ll be eating far fewer fruits and vegetables.
This could mean that if you cook your own food, you'll probably have more in the bank and eat healthier food, but we are still left with the issue of saving time. It is here where technology can reinvent the way we interact with our kitchens and the cooking process.
Recently, new technology has become embedded into our daily lives, but today we are experiencing the renaissance of products that have been practical—yet mundane—for decades. These products, such as watches, fridges, door locks and lights, are being transformed into smart machines; capable of doing a lot more than their original creators could have ever foreseen.
The future, however, is not just about the expansion of a web of products that are being taken online. The future is about personalisation: about products having the ability to understand your needs and act on this knowledge. Brick-and-mortar clothing stores are revolutionising into virtual and personalised experiences, which allow the consumer to select the brightness of the lighting in their changing room, and then have their clothes delivered to their doorstep.
The same goes for food, with the rise of drone delivery, soon, our food storage will order our food for us when it runs out.
This is the future, and however ludicrous all of it may sound, it’s realising exponentially. For the majority of us, we have the appliances that we need, and we aren’t looking to frivolously spend thousands of pounds on new ones, just because they’re connected to an app.
However, some products, such as the FridgeCam, made by smart-home tech company Smarter, are providing a happy medium. It acts as a solution for those who want the benefits of a smart fridge, without the considerable costs. It allows you to keep your regular fridge, but just add an inexpensive extension to make it a smart fridge.
With the aim of helping to tackle the UK’s food waste problem, the FridgeCam allows you to see what is in your fridge as well as the items’ best before dates, all from your smartphone. You can create shopping lists and developments are underway to allow the FridgeCam to replenish your items when you run out, by connecting you to an online supermarket.
This element of control over your fridge will help you to both cook and shop more efficiently, helping you to reduce your food waste, and reducing the amount of money that you spend on food at the same time. To the majority of us, the future is both scary and exciting, but with products like FridgeCam, you can make a feasible step into it.