“Alexa, please tell James to prepare the kitchen for breakfast,” said Michael Schidlack, Chief Strategy Officer of DigitalSTROM, to the speaker in the middle of the table. Alexa is the speaker, James is the butler, and apparently Alexa does nothing unless you mention James’s name. Sure enough she responded with lights flashing and said that the room was ready. Then the action started – two leaves at the side of the table moved into breakfast position, the lights came on and the music started. He then asked for some water and the tap started pouring at his request. Lastly you can also order from Alexa the sink powder which you will get sent to you from Amazon (Alexa only understands US English and would not know what dishwasher powder is, and indeed she had some difficulty in understanding my Home Counties English accent).
In the consumer survey we recently commissioned and published at IFA, we asked the respondents which room would be smart first. 57% of people voted for the kitchen – this is not the intuitive choice of everyone when you think that so much talk about smart home has been about security and energy savings, in which case the under stairs cupboard or the hallway will be smart first, which is of course a ridiculous idea. In terms of purchasing intentions only a small percentage of respondents said they will buy smart ovens or fridges in the next 6 months.
So where does the smart kitchen come from? It’s all down to complexity, and the excitement of things happening automatically – there are so many gadgets and possibilities in a kitchen. I saw this on the Siemens stand with the new Siemens connect which allows you to control the oven and the dishwasher from your smartphone; from the autumn this will include the fridge, washing-machine and dryer, and in 2016 the coffee machine. One of our speakers at the breakfast was David Bailey, Global Retail Development Director of Samsung SmartThings – we were impressed to see the number of products which can be linked through this open system. I have all those images of the Jetson cartoons, so maybe the smart home is not so far from this, and the kitchen with its interconnected products will help lead a smart home breakthrough.