Imagine if most of your kitchen surfaces were covered with thin panel TV technology. The front door of your refrigerator would be a TV. Each cabinet door would be a TV. The microwave door would be a TV.

This idea would be impractical with current technology. But I imagine we aren't far from having some sort of bendable screen material we can glue to any surface. It might be something like this.

Let's say the kitchen knows who you are by the phone in your pocket that is communicating via Bluetooth. Imagine that you walk into the kitchen and all the TVs come alive. Perhaps the starting channel is nothing but scenery. Or perhaps each member of the family has a default channel that comes up when they are the only ones in the kitchen. If you have a home security system, perhaps it shows all of your camera views.

You can control everything in the kitchen by hand signals. Point to one monitor and "toss" a TV show to it. Pull up a recipe on another screen, a shopping list on another, and the family calendar on the fourth.

You'd have speakers in the ceiling, of course, so if you play music videos the kitchen will become a concert hall. If a Skype call comes in, it pops up on screen and the music cuts off automatically. Emails and texts would pop up on separate screens. Just face the screen to which you plan to respond and use voice commands.

Now mom or dad can prepare dinner while catching up on some TV shows, answering texts and emails, and organizing the family schedule.

I can also see the kitchen screens being synchronized to dinner plans. When it is time for something to go into the microwave, for example, the screen on the microwave door would turn into a picture of that item. When it's time to chop some vegetables, a screen would show you the size of the cubes you want. I can imagine every step of the menu being visual and interactive. No more reading wordy recipes. Just watch the pictures and follow along.

The kitchen might need some sort of sound-proof doors to keep the rest of the house quiet while the kitchen is rocking.

Making a shopping list would be as simple as speaking the items you want. A picture of the item would pop up on screen for confirmation. When you're happy with your list, just send it to the cloud and your groceries will be delivered to your door.

When you need to check on the kids doing homework just make a video call from the kitchen. By then all homework will be done on a tablet or device with a camera. If your kid takes longer than five seconds to answer the call, he wasn't doing homework.

When it is time for dinner, call up a map that shows the location of all family members by their phones. You can see your spouse is only halfway home on the commute and your kid is still at soccer practice, so you time dinner accordingly. (Here I'm assuming privacy is a relic of the past.)

When it's time to eat, tell the kitchen to automatically text each family member and show any replies on the screen.

You should also have cameras on the stove top so you can walk away and still keep an eye on whatever is boiling via your smartphone. Better yet, the smartkitchen should keep an eye on boiling pots on its own and adjust the heat as needed.

The kitchen is already the fun place to be in the house. But we're nowhere near the limit of how cool the kitchen can become. And I didn't even mention robots.

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0 Rank Up Rank Down
May 25, 2013
I wouldn't be comfortable with a completely sound-proof kitchen because most of the home's accidents happen there. Sound-proofing is great but it comes with risk--you can't scream for help. Also, with robots, why would you need to go into the kitchen? In most upper class homes, the kitchen is the most antique room in the place. The masters don't care if the stove is a century out of date. It's an American, New World phenomenon for rich people to even know they have a kitchen, let alone party there.
Since the disappearance of servants in middle class homes (except for the au pair, nanny or rental maids), there's been a cultural rush to make the kitchen a showcase, but in older homes it was meant to be out-of-mind and out-of-sight. Technology makes that attitude possible once again.
May 23, 2013
Why bother with that obsolecte concept of a kitchen? Replicators are comming:
http://nanopatentsandinnovations.blogspot.cz/2013/05/3d-printer-for-food-being-developed-by.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed: NanoPatentsAndInnovations (Nano Patents and Innovations)
May 22, 2013
Please tell me you can switch all the screens and audio off, and just look out of the window in peace now and again...
May 21, 2013
Think about every vertical surface of your kitchen covered with thin panel displays. Then imagine an AI engine that perfectly mimics a human personality and puts it up on the screens, in real time. You could have a celebrity chef in your kitchen you could talk to. They'd sound right and move right and that would be pretty darn cool.

Nadia G would be the choice in my kitchen. She's so funny and sassy and good-looking. If you've never seen her !$%*!$%* Kitchen" show, it's sort of a cross between Julia Child's and Pee Wee's Playhouse, then dipped in girly hotness.

After a cooking direction, she gives a perfectly timed "So ya got that?" look that just melts you. Her accent is perplexing, but she explains that's what happens when you're raised by Italian speakers in Montreal. She occasionally launches into an affectation that sounds like Ren from the Ren and Stimpy show, but it only makes her more endearing.

I suppose her presence in the kitchen might get old after a while. Nobody can stay "on" forever, not even an AI mimic. One morning you'd walk in the kitchen and her image would be sitting in a stained terrycloth robe, droopy haired, smoking a cigarette. "We're outa coffee" she'd sneer.

+3 Rank Up Rank Down
May 21, 2013
You do know the ultimate usage of anything internet related? I will never eat at your house again.
May 21, 2013
It sounds like the perfect kitchen for someone who hates being in the kitchen.

It also sounds like a kitchen that would require an immense amount of rich content -- someone programming recipes to display pictures according to timers on multiple screens. I'm guessing that Scott doesn't spend a lot of time following instructions, because generally written instructions are CRAP. And they take far less effort than, say, pictures. Which take far less effort than animation / video. Which take far less effort than programming.

If people can't create written instructions correctly, considering how little effort it takes, how can you expect a ubiquity of rich-content instructions. I imagine that making macaroni & cheese -- something that a specific company has a specific interest in publishing would be amazing and perfect with 3D animated elbow noodles colliding with a sheet of silky milk while a billion cheese particles lovingly blanket them. Beef Wellington would still be plain text by someone who can barely write, and skips all the difficult steps.
May 21, 2013
I don't get it. Is this kitchen a refuge from the world (music, your own TV) or a way for the world to intrude even when you want to be creative (emails, texts)?

I also wonder why - given the amount of time and interest Scott has in his kitchen - he is not 280 pounds and rising.....
May 21, 2013
Anyone remember the Futurama episode where Bender the robot decided to cook for the humans?
May 21, 2013
Scott, it really appears that you are bothered by being human. All the advances that you mention are just more ways for us to lose our souls. Most everything that is invented or innovated to make things easier, better or more convenient simply allows us to rush to fill that space with more, more, more. I love the way I can use technology to streamline finances, create digital content and communicate long distances. But, why can't we just realize that the physical world should be the 80 from the cliche'd0/20 rule.
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
May 21, 2013
Don't get me wrong, I love technology (3 computers and 5 ipad household), but that sounds really... um... visually loud. You're describing the interior equivalent of the website with 16 different fonts, 27 animated gifs, and an animated background. And music that won't shut up. Whitespace is great in all design areas.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
May 20, 2013
Interesting concept.

One thing I would like is rather than making a skype call to the kids to see if they're doing homework just use the parental over ride to turn on the front facing camera on the device and see what they're doing.

Young timmy would only need to have the image of himself indulging in some "personal time" watching adult videos plastered over all the screens in the kitchen once before he learned to use his imagination.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
May 20, 2013
There are some real comic possibilities here. I can imagine the kitchen starting to take actions based on what it hears during a loud argument about a spilled garbage can, etc.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
May 20, 2013
Have you ever seen Corning's "A Day made of Glass" videos?

They look an aweful lot like what you are describing.
May 20, 2013
I like the sound of your "Ultimate Kitchen". It's possible the killer app may be in gaming.

Earlier this year we hosted a "Chopped Challenge" party. If you're familiar with the Food Network show "Chopped", you know about the basket of 4 mystery ingredients and the pressure to complete a creative dish in the time allotted.

We have a huge kitchen, but not 4 of each appliance like the show. Luckily we found a great alternative format (google "Deborah Neyens"). Given the number of people, we did 4 courses assigned to 4 cooking teams (2 chefs per team). Each team was required to bring the mystery ingredients for a different team. Since everyone had to eat what was eventually cooked, this moderated the craziness of the ingredients somewhat. Also, everyone was an anonymous judge, which made it just competitive enough.

It was spectacular fun to sit across the kitchen island watching your friends working frantically under pressure, while you're drinking wine and good-naturedly second-guessing every culinary decision they make. The creativity amazed me.

The camera-immersed kitchen you described would be the perfect tool for a "Chopped Challenge" app. Chefs could face-off continents away. Each chef (or team) would need a "smart pantry" with RFID tags on all food, enabling the others to choose mystery ingredients easily. The number and variety of available ingredients would help in seeding fair competition, because what fun would it be to have your fully-stocked gourmet pantry go up against some guy with only a handful of Italian ingredients?

Such a virtual competition would probably be skewed towards plate artistry, but I could see how even strangers might bond across a multi-dinner series, and would begin to give fair evaluations of the taste of their food. I know my wife wouldn't pull any punches.

May 20, 2013
To quote Homer Simpson explaining Epcot Center,

"It's what people in the 60s thought the 80s would look like"
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
May 20, 2013
I love it, except the bit about watching TV while cooking. At least for me that's a recipe for burnt fat and chopped off fingers.

What I'd really like would be some multi player mode for two or three people cooking together. You've got sturdy ceran-type work surfaces doubling as screen where you pick apart the recipe and drag the bits to different surfaces worked at by the people. The System would provide the time line (when stuff has to be ready), everybody could do their bit and all would work efficiently together.
May 20, 2013
If you can afford this amount of technology, surely you can afford to employ a chef?
All these other kitchen problems will go away if you've got someone to do all the cooking, cleaning and shopping.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
May 20, 2013
If you start with the premise that the kitchen is the "heart of the home", you can take it lots of different places - some involving technology, others - not so much.

For example: parents of young children can easily feel isolated and overwhelmed. 4pm is often called "the witching hour" because that's when the kids are are their most tired and cranky while mom or dad is desperately trying to create something edible while managing the chaos. In this case, you could store toys, tv shows or computer games in the kitchen that only come out at 4pm.

You could also build kitchens in community centers designed for young kids. Parents could bring their kids there to play in the afternoon - and use the kitchen for dinner prep while taking turns supervising the chaos with other parents. That takes care of both the isolation and the craziness - plus families can share recipes and even choose to coordinate cooking - so that everyone goes home with a much better meal than they would have created on their own. (That also creates an opportunity to teach some young parents HOW to cook - improving the health and financial well-being of the whole family.)

That's less a technology solution than a community solution - but it still starts from the same place: Looking at the role of the kitchen in family life and figuring out how to leverage that for greater impact.

As far as technology: I would have loved to have had a huge interactive calendar on a wall in my kitchen as the scheduling and contact hub. I could have shared parts of it with other folks to help schedule carpools, playdates, etc. I could see times that friends posted as "available" so I can suggest a get together then if I'm also free. I could have set it to issue increasingly frantic reminders when I need to leave to pick up the kids, etc. Obviously this would tie into a mobile app - so I would have the info when and where I need it most - but the kitchen calendar would be like the war room: the one place we could all easily see and cope with all the data.

I like the idea of having a recipe with instructions and possibly photos appearing over the stove or cutting board as I work. I also want it to keep track (via barcode scanning, or better, RFID) of ingredients I have on hand and make substitution suggestions.

Sensors in food could indicate the current state and link to an app that will explain what happens if you continue to cook it at various temperatures (e.g. fabulous caramelization - or not-so-fabulous smoke-alarm fodder.)

For the entertainment-challenged among us, a kitchen calendar/app could not only help track RSVP's but also issue reminders about tasks to complete ahead of time - in order to assure a great event - and avoid the kind of last minute panic that has you vowing never to invite anyone over again.
+16 Rank Up Rank Down
May 20, 2013
It sounds like you could do all of that simply by carrying an iPad into the kitchen with you.

Just because technology makes things possible doesn't necessarily mean it's useful.
May 20, 2013
With touch screens on every surface and cameras, microphones, and speakers everywhere, you no longer need to carry a personal electronic device at all. Drop your smart phone in a wireless charger near the door when you get home and your apps will recognize you and follow you around the house as needed. You may still want a tablet if you want to read or go out in the yard or whatever, and any tablet you pick up will automatically recognize you and have your preferences and apps ready to go. (Two years after Apple's release of "iMe" Google will follow with the open source "Google Home" and quickly regret the uninspiring name).

Privacy doesn't need to disappear. Just choose to "hide" and your roaming electronic service will refuse external service requests. This is about as good as it gets because this option isn't even available for whatever you're doing now. The paranoid (...or guilty...) will simply not have that service in their homes. Not that it'll do them much good...

60 minutes just had a segment on facial recognition. Corporate America is already using it. When you walk by a Kiosk it could scan your face, find you in FaceBook, see what you've "Liked" and fire up targeted marketing material or offer coupons. Government lags behind, only using arrest records for source photos.
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