Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is a major topic of conversation when it comes to manufacturing, automobiles, virtual reality and other highly technical industries, but have you ever considered the role A.I. may play in the home -- and the kitchen in particular?
A.I.: Coming to a kitchen near you
The kitchen is what real estate agents and investors call a "money room." It's often the first room described in a property listing, and the average homeowner spends more waking hours in the kitchen than any other room in the home.
"Not only will you cook and eat your daily meals in your kitchen, but you will also celebrate holidays, entertain guests and spend quality time with family and friends," explains Kitchen Cabinet Kings, a leader in modern kitchen remodeling. "For all these reasons, the design and style of your kitchen is of the utmost importance. This is why most homeowners place kitchen remodeling at the top of their home remodeling to-do list."
But what are homeowners, builders and designers including in their updated kitchens? One recent study of home listings shows that 7% of homes on the market describe their kitchen as being a "chef's kitchen" or "gourmet kitchen." Features in these types of kitchens include things like industrial-size appliances, wet bars, butler's pantries, double ovens, standalone ice makers, wine fridges and lots of counter space.
But the kitchen of the future may look a lot different (at least in terms of functionality). Sure, you'll find wet bars and wine fridges, but you'll also find something that hasn't historically been a part of the classic home kitchen: A.I.
A.I. applications in the kitchen
Watson, the powerful IBM computer that famously won a contest of "Jeopardy," gives us a surface-level glimpse of what's possible. Chef James Briscione recently co-authored a cookbook with the A.I. computer and the results are pretty incredible.
Watson is able to identify and recognize flavor profiles of different foods and make suggestions regarding which ingredients work best together. One of the suggestions the computer made involves cooking apples with olive oil instead of butter (because the flavor profiles align better).
"It was something I'd never conceive of doing on my own," Briscione says, "but it was one of the best singular bites that came out of three years [working alongside the machine]."
While a cookbook co-authored by a computer that understands flavor profiles is interesting, there are even more useful applications for A.I. in the kitchen -- and innovators are salivating at the prospects of additional uses.
One commercialized example is Hello Egg. Its appearance may resemble an old egg timer, but it's got a lot more going on inside. It's essentially an assistant that helps people make better use of the more than 400 hours a year they spend in the kitchen.
"Hello Egg comes with cooking assistance even for the most advanced chefs, as well as step-by-step voice-navigated recipe video tutorials and real-time prompts from a human support team for those who might need a little more hand-holding in the kitchen," tech expert Lulu Chang explains. "Moreover, the smart device promises to 'keep a lively conversation going by expressing itself through mimicking facial expressions,' and can also keep you entertained and informed by way of Spotify, audio news feeds, weather forecasts and voice-activated timers and reminders."
Having Watson author a smart cookbook and getting to interact with a little egg that responds to your commands is cool, but the future of A.I. in the kitchen has much more in store than trendy products and gadgets.
Moley is responsible for one of the greatest innovations in this space (to date). And while it's still only a prototype, it's hard not to get excited about the world's first "robotic kitchen."
The prototype, which has been in development for over a year and is now entering into the product launch "pre-sales" phase, is a collaboration between Shadow Robotics, DYSENGO, Yachtline, Sebastian Conran and Stanford University Professor Mark Cutkosky.
"A pair of fully articulated robotic hands now reproduce the entire function of human hands with the same speed, sensitivity and movement," the Moley website explains. The kitchen is operated by a touchscreen computer (or remote device) and is designed to make a delicious meal with nothing but a smart system and robotic arms. And while it's still early in the process of development, the potential here is astounding.
The future of A.I.-powered kitchens
While it may not have been obvious before, new innovation in this space shows that A.I. and the modern kitchen go together like peanut butter and jelly. (Or should we say apples and olive oil?)
We're definitely in the beginning stages and there are lots of kinks to be worked out in all of the technologies mentioned. But once you see the potential, it's hard to imagine future kitchens without some sort of artificial intelligence baked in.
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