January 30, 2013, 8:00 AM —
With all the attention given to home automation, you'd think that more products would be devoted to the "heart of the home." The kitchen probably has more gizmos-per-inch than any other room in the house. Yet most home connectivity efforts have left the kitchen connectivity on the back burner. That's in the process of changing – with some vendors, at least, turning the innovation heat up to High.
The reasons are fairly obvious. The low-hanging fruit in home automation is products for security, environment, and cost savings. Fear of a break-in and budget concerns are strong emotions for homeowners. That makes it easier to define what a consumer wants: status updates (is my garage door open?), remote control (if it is, close it), and energy/money-saving options (set the heating and cooling to optimize power company rates). And, importantly for those designing tech answers, many general home automation needs can be controlled in a binary fashion: The lights are turned on, or they're turned off.
Yet, as both a self-professed computer geek and an avid cook (what, doesn't everyone own 400 cookbooks?!), I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. So when I went to the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), my primary purpose was to stalk the aisles for the latest kitchen-centric connectivity offerings. I found several ingredients for the connected kitchen, but the process isn't cooked yet. As it turns out: That's probably a good thing. And it makes this a very exciting time.
I could have given you a slide show of gizmos that somehow belong to the cooking or eating categories. Let's not, because the Hapi-Fork (meant to encourage you to slow down the speed at which you eat) isn't really about home automation at all. In a moment I show you what's currently available, but first I think it's important to consider the issues that are contributing to the slow-food kitchen connectivity effort. Because this isn't a technology problem to be solved; it's one of usability.