Kitchen appliances that think for you – for more convenience and enjoyment
Cooking at home and eating together – increasingly more people are becoming fans of home cooking and entertaining. After all, a delicious meal with great conversations is one of the best things to do in your leisure time. But not everyone who enjoys to socialize, is a top chef. Plus, sometimes a meal must be on the table quickly to feed your hungry family. That’s where intelligent appliances step in to give you a helping hand. The right stove, a networked refrigerator or a smart food processor makes everything easier to handle. Not to mention, they make preparation more enjoyable than even fast-food aficionados can dream of.
Cooking and baking
When the heat is on …
… a smart stovetop or oven helps you keep you cool. Intelligent appliances take over some of the tasks that would normally require your attention. Take a range hood: Why use damp or messy fingers to press buttons when the appliance can do it for you? Networked range hoods automatically switch on and change fan speeds as required.
The range hood that thinks for you
Particularly smart models have a sensor in the air duct measuring the water vapor in the extracted air. As steam, smoke and cooking fumes increase, they raise the fan speed, lowering it again toward the end of the cooking process. The fans run for a short time after you finish, to capture any lingering steam.
Exhaust or recirculating, or both?
Both extraction methods have their advantages. Exhaust hoods vent the air, steam and fumes outside, and are particularly effective. Recirculating systems filter out the grease and odors, but return the filtered air to the room. This makes them suitable for use in a kitchen where you can’t put a hole in a wall. Modern, energy efficient houses benefit from this method as no heat escapes outside. However, there are hybrid hoods that combine the best of both worlds: In winter, the range hood recirculates the air to save on heating costs, and in summer, or when grilling, the hood activates its exhaust system.
1000 and one forms
“Hood” is quite a misnomer these days. Range hoods are available in a wide range of forms. Whereas in the past, wall and cupboard undermount hoods dominated, or those suspended over the stovetop on a kitchen island, some hoods can now be mounted up near the ceiling. They make your kitchen feel much more spacious as they are installed so high. Lift hoods are height adjustable: Use a remote control to lower it for cooking, then lift it out of sight after use – similar to an adjustable pendant lamp. Integrated LED lighting puts a spotlight on the stove while cooking, and switches to colored dim lighting for a cozy atmosphere afterwards. Some models even have a fragrance dispenser or regulate the humidity in the room, all controlled via an app on your smartphone.
Integrated into the stovetop
If you don’t want to see the range hood at all, downdraft ventilation systems are available. Built into your stovetop or workbench, they extract the steam and fumes right where they are generated. You can position a stovetop with a downdraft ventilation system in front of a window, for example, unlike a conventional wall-mounted range hood. Note that a built-in ventilation system needs to be powerful enough to not let cooking fumes escape upwards. In principle, your range hood, no matter its form, should be able to completely extract and filter the air in a room several times per hour. Your nearest specialist dealer will help you calculate the power your kitchen requires.
Displays and sensors
Modern stovetops offer even more than just exhaust fans and fine-tuned temperate control. They automatically limit their induction surfaces to match your pot size. When you move a saucepan to another location on the stove, the heating automatically follows, along with the matching temperature setting. Sensors protect your pots and pans from overheating, boiling over or burning. They continuously measure the heat and control the electronics inside the stove accordingly. If you’re not sure how hot you need it to be, luxurious models can provide active support: Use the color touch display on the glass surface to select the dish you are cooking and receive appropriate suggestions.
Baking on autopilot
Similar to car navigation systems, hobby cooks have recipe assistants. With digital support, you can feel comfortable venturing into unknown territory. Whether soufflé, strudel or roast pork: After you select a dish, the oven selects the right temperature itself. It sets the duration and cooking method, switching to steam or microwave automatically if available. Apps for wirelessly networked ovens make this particularly convenient: A camera inside your oven streams a live image of your roast to the app on your smartphone. Smarter models use artificial intelligence to monitor the baking process and calculate when the food is ready. The high-tech versions can dose heat so precisely that different parts of the dish are cooked to different levels – raw, well cooked, tender and crispy, all in the same dish.
People say that a successful meal consists of equal parts inspiration and transpiration. You can’t always avoid sweating over the stove, but inspiration is easy with networked appliances and your smartphone. Some manufacturers collaborate with recipe platforms or offer their own recipe apps. Your oven takes the settings directly from the recipe and your smartphone displays the next steps. Maybe you don’t want to prepare everything yourself? Then order a multi-course meal from a professional chef – your smart oven will finish off the cooking professionally and precisely, just like in a restaurant. Such services are available today.
Modern appliances are so clever
The oven uses a camera in the interior to recognize different dishes by their appearance. Its assistant program automatically makes the right settings for cooking or baking. And once the pizza has reached the right degree of browning, it even switches itself off.
A touchscreen in the stovetop gives you preparation tips. Step-by-step instructions are always visible while you work, reducing the need to reach for a cookbook. Your cookbooks’ covers and pages will remain clean.
Fresh air and nice fragrances
The range hood doesn’t just filter steam and cooking fumes from the air, it can also diffuse pleasant fragrances. Interchangeable fragrance cartridges let you choose your favorite aroma – from fresh and minty to the scent of freshly baked baguettes.
Temperature sensors in the stovetop and sometimes even in the pots and pans, keep an eye on the cooking process. They communicate directly with the control electronics in your stovetop, ensuring that nothing overcooks or burns.
Always the correct mixture of steam, air movement and heat: A multi-function oven with a humidity sensor automatically controls the climate inside. This also supports the sous-vide method, where you cook food to perfection in vacuum pouches.
Innovative technologies enable new cooking methods. For example, electromagnetic waves can be used to cook fish inside a block of ice without even melting the ice surrounding it. In an oven, this technology ensures results of the highest precision.
This display doesn’t just show you the status of what’s in your oven, it also shows you information about the status of other appliances in your household. You can check how soon the laundry in your washing machine or dryer will be finished, right in the middle of cooking.
Most island stovetop range hoods should be hung about 80cm above the cooking surface. Much higher and the suction effect will not reliably extract the steam and cooking fumes. Alternatively, you could opt for a stronger model.
Intelligent small domestic appliances
Smart helpers for every kitchen
Mixing, slicing, chopping, stirring, heating and cooking all at the same time: To call the new all-rounders a food processor is almost insulting. These multifunction processors require the same amount of space as their counterparts that lack cooking features. But they are incomparably more versatile: From steamed fish to a creamy risotto, a smooth hollandaise sauce to homemade yoghurt, everything is possible in a single pot and at the touch of a button.
Food processors that also cook
The one-pot specialists prepare complete dishes. Depending on the model, their stainless steel cooking surfaces can reach up to 200 degrees Celsius, allowing meat and vegetables to be sharply seared. For cooking steps that are less aggressive, they can be set to 120-150 degrees. Using a multifunction processor, everyone can cook, especially when following the step-by-step recipes on the integrated display. The more experienced cooks benefit from a manual mode, allowing to set the temperature, mixing speeds and times individually. Of course, preparing baby food or reducing a sauce can be easily left to the automatic mode. Differences in pot size and mixing functions will determine which model suits you best. Some models can crush ice, while others are less powerful.
Coffee is served
Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up to the aroma of fresh coffee wafting through your apartment in the morning? A smart drip filter machine or a networked fully automatic espresso machine will have your coffee ready for you each day when you wake. A smartphone app not only sets the time via your wireless home network or Bluetooth, it also programs settings such as water quantity and temperature, brewing time and how much milk foam is preferred. Each family member will receive their personal favorite cup.
Ideal brewing temperature
Even those who prefer to brew their coffee or tea themselves can benefit from smart technology. A programmable kettle will have hot water ready at the time you choose. You can set a target temperature on some models, to the exact degree. Thus, you can brew your coffee at an ideal 95 degrees Celcius, and green tea at 60, 70 or 80 degrees. Particularly intelligent models pre-boil the water and send a notification to your smartphone when it has reached the right temperature. There are many examples of practical kitchen helpers – from time-controlled bread ovens to hot-air ‘deep’ fryers with recipe apps, and kitchen scales that count the calories for you.
Vacuum robots to clean up
Whoever cooks, drops crumbs: Flour and rice often end up where they don’t belong. A robot vacuum cleaner can take care of that. After you have washed up, it will drive itself into the kitchen at a command via an app to take care of anything left on the floor. For hobby cooks who spill liquids, floor-washing or mop robots are a time-saver. These are combination robots that can both vacuum and mop the floor with a damp microfiber cloth, usually in one swoop. Robot mops with a water tank have an advantage as you don’t need to dampen the tiles first.
It’s not just the appliances that make a kitchen smart, but also its organization. Do you have all the spices and tools like spatulas at hand? Do you know what you want to cook and need to buy during the week? A little preparation saves time and reduces stress.
Automatic dosing and other convenient features
First, dishwashers became increasingly more efficient. Now, smart features are finding their way into the machines. A growing number of models have wireless connectivity built-in. Similar to other smart devices, your dishwasher connects to your router and provides you access to many convenient new features.
Operation via an app
Choosing the right rinse program can be tricky. But not if the app on your smartphone helps. With apps available for Android and iOS devices, manufacturers can supplement the features of the dishwasher. Instead of pressing a button on the machine, enter the type of dishes and how dirty they are in the app. The dishwasher will do the rest with its sensors. You can follow along with the dishwashing cycle in the app, and receive a notification when it is finished. Of course, you can also start a cycle remotely from your smartphone while you are out and about.
Even more convenient, is when the dishwasher can receive the right dose of detergent from an integrated reserve. Some models offer this functionality in addition to the traditional method of adding a detergent tab. You no longer have to add detergent every time by hand, and can start a dishwashing program at any time with no preparation. The dishwasher doses the correct amount of powder detergent as required. If the sensor detects your dishes are still dirty, it will add more automatically. On average, you only need to fill the detergent reserve once every 20 cycles. If the reserve runs out, you can order another online via the app. Some dishwashers track detergent usage and warn you when you are running low, whether you are using a dishwasher with automatic dosing, or if you have programmed in the number of tabs in the last box you purchased. If you like, you can set the app to order more automatically when you are low, so you never run out.
Digital customer service
Priority service: In the event of technical problems, the smartphone app contacts the manufacturer’s support. Employees can perform remote diagnostics and search for the error over your internet connection. If you can solve the problem yourself, the support team will step you through the process. Otherwise, a technician will visit to correct the error. Thanks to the remote diagnostics, they will have all the spare parts they need for the repair.
Dishwasher tabs and detergent powders contain active enzymes to break down dirt. These substances lose their effectiveness over time, causing the detergent to lose its cleaning power. It is therefore not worth stocking up. Tabs and detergents are best used within one year of purchase.
Fridges and freezers
Everything stays fresh in connected appliances
The internet-enabled refrigerator which automatically reorders milk is legendary, and still far off. While it is a vision of the future, it will probably not become reality so quickly. However, current models show that smart technology in fridges and freezers still has many advantages.
As you make your way to the store, you start wondering: Do we have enough milk? What about drinks for a movie with friends? Have the children already eaten the pasta salad from yesterday? If only you could look inside your fridge while away from home. Refrigerators with cameras inside let you do exactly that – take a look and remove the guesswork at the store. Look inside using the app on your smartphone. Since this internet connectivity works in both directions, you can change the settings in your fridge’s fresh zone while out too. Switch on the super-cooling mode while you are still in the supermarket and pre-chill the zone ready for those extra drinks.
Touchscreen in the door
Side-by-side appliances are a feature point in every kitchen. Smart technology makes them even more the center of attention. A touchscreen in the refrigerator door transforms it into a digital pinboard. Family members can leave messages on it for each other, or check their calendars. The display can stream videos from smartphones and compatible TVs from the same manufacturer. Recipe apps make menu suggestions or viewing cooking demonstrations easy. And everything can be controlled by voice. Another practical feature: Using a built-in camera, the screen lets you see inside without even opening the door.
Models with transparency
There is another way to avoid cold loss through frequent door opening: A pane of switchable glass (privacy glass) is built into the refrigerator door. It is usually opaque, but turns transparent in response to an electrical signal. Tap the door with your finger and the insulating glass panel turns transparent, letting you see what’s inside. This is an effect that is as astonishing as it is practical, and works without an internet connection or smartphone.
Some refrigerator and domestic appliance manufacturers offer wireless dongles to retrofit older appliances. This wireless module connects the appliance to the internet – to control it via voice using Alexa for example, or to receive fault messages on your cell phone.
Smart home integration
Do more together
It is only a small step from the smart kitchen to a smart house. Those who connect their kitchen appliances to other devices via the home wireless network will enjoy additional functionality. For example, a ceiling lamp flashes to remind you when the washing machine is finished. For this integration to work, the products must be able to communicate with each other. This is only possible with certain brands.
Voice control with Alexa & co.
The most popular systems of digital voice assistants are Alexa, Bixby and the Google Assistant. Depending on the appliance, you can do various things with voice control. For example, you can open an oven door when both of your hands are full if your oven is equipped with a voice-controlled motor. Or you can turn on the range hood with a voice command. Most of these commands are input via a wireless speaker, also known as a smart speaker. Kitchen appliances with their own microphones are rare. The advantage of an external solution: The smart speaker can give you information about the status of various appliances, and you are not permanently locked into one particular voice assistant.
Smart home systems and integration
Appliance manufacturers with a smart home solution of their own are doing family business: products of their brands work together very easily. You can integrate your oven, stove and other appliances with a home control system. For example, images from the front door camera can be shown on the display in the refrigerator door. You can use online services such as Conrad Connect or IFTTT to connect services across manufacturer boundaries. These route control commands from one device to another via a service on the internet. You can also connect recipe and delivery services to your smart kitchen in this way.
Smart energy management
A topic that will only become more important in the future is your household’s energy efficiency. Networked kitchen appliances support you in two ways: they display their current energy consumption in the smartphone app, and they can be controlled via the home network. For example, a smart home that has solar panels can run the dishwasher when the sun is shining and energy is cheap. Smart appliances can also make optimal use of the variable rates offered by electricity providers, where the price per kilowatt hour fluctuates throughout the day.
Use a voice-controlled speaker to get rid of the kitchen clock. It tells the time on demand, and sets timers for baking or boiling eggs. You can even set multiple concurrent timers, and get the speaker to announce how much time is left.
Smart gadgets – upgrade your cooking life
You don’t necessarily need to go out right now to buy a high-tech oven. Sometimes even the small things are enough to turn simple fare into an exquisite dish. These kitchen gadgets make unconnected kitchens smarter.
Take a digital voice assistant like Alexa or the Google Assistant and give it a monitor and you get a smart display. These devices with voice control work well as cookbooks, providing access to thousands of recipes on the internet. Illustrated step-by-step instructions guide you through the cooking process. Of course, smart displays can do everything that a normal smart speaker without a screen can do too.
Cooking with sensors
Place a wireless Bluetooth sensor in your pot or pan: An app on your smartphone keeps an eye on the cooking process and controls the matching portable stove in such a way that nothing thickens too much, boils or burns. The app’s recipe database always knows exactly what to do and provides instructional videos to help you with the preparation. This trio is also available in worktop-mounted stovetops, with or without an integrated range hood.
Digital herb gardens
With a smart benchtop greenhouse, you can harvest fresh herbs for cooking all year round. LED lights and irrigation are automatically controlled. Models with apps for your smartphone can show you growing tips and instructions, and notify you when the water tank is empty. Special seed capsules from the manufacturer are convenient, offering a variety of herbs, salad vegetables and even edible flowers.
Instead of a refrigerator, it’s a temperature-controlled greenhouse in a similar form. The luxury versions of this smart mini-garden, provide everything salad vegetables and herbs need to thrive: sensor-controlled light and humidity, a simulated spring climate for ideal fast growth, and regularly updated control processes from the cloud. Up to eight plant species can be grown simultaneously in each drawer.