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Technology knows the way to your heart is via kitchen


For many people, the kitchen is the centre of the home and a locus for interactions that go beyond preparing and eating food.

Now tech companies and appliance makers, aiming to deepen their relationships with customers, are increasingly targeting the room that is synonymous with togetherness.

Household brands are racing against tech behemoths like Google and Amazon to dominate the kitchen with Internet-connected appliances and cooking gadgets that include refrigerators embedded with touch screens, smart dishwashers and connected counter-top screens with artificially intelligent assistants that react to spoken commands.

Yet the so-called smart kitchen remains a tough sell. With the kitchen often a hub for families and friends, habits there can be hard to change. And many people see the kitchen and mealtimes as a haven from their otherwise always-connected lifestyle.

Only 5% of American households own smart appliances today, up from 3% in 2014, according to the research firm Parks Associates. “Will we see a reinvention of the kitchen like we saw in the living room?” said Michael Wolf, a tech analyst who hosts a podcast and a conference about the smart kitchen. “I don’t think it will happen overnight. There’s going to be a lot of skepticism.”

Apart from their fears of disrupting the rhythms and patterns in the heart of the home, people may be hesitant to incorporate smart devices into their kitchens because of the costs of maintaining such appliances, which are often difficult to repair. They also may worry about longevity: A touchscreen refrigerator may look modern today, but who knows how dated it may appear in five years?

And with many smart kitchen appliances incorporating internet connections digital privacy has become a concern. Security researchers said that one problem with smart appliances is that, unlike tech companies, household brands lack the cybersecurity expertise to vet products for vulnerabilities.