Have you ever had a conversation with your fridge? Or a text from your oven telling you dinner’s ready? It may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but in fact it’s all too real, thanks to so-called ‘smart’ appliances.
The latest high-tech invention is a ‘talking tablecloth’ that detects whatever food and drink is placed on it. Using electrode sensors and machine learning, the tablecloth can suggest recipes, provide nutritional information and even remind homeowners if they’ve left something behind on it.
‘Talking appliances are more popular than ever,’ says Stuart Badger of Magnet Kitchens, a retailer of smart home technology.
‘People want everything done for them, quicker and better than they could do it themselves.’
So what other all-singing, all-dancing gadgets can we expect to see in our homes? We tour the kitchen of the future. . .
FRIDGE THAT TELLS YOU WHAT TO COOK
Family Hub fridge, Samsung, £2,900, samsung.com
Sarah Rainey (pictured) tried out a series of gadgets that could soon be a staple of everyday kitchens
A touchscreen tablet built into the door of this smart fridge serves as a family calendar, shopping list and interactive cookbook, which suggests what to make for dinner based on what’s inside and dictates the recipe.
Inside, there’s a camera that connects to your smartphone, so you can check the contents when you’re at the supermarket. The fridge can even log expiry dates, remind you to eat things and suggest recipes for leftovers.
The fridge uses artificial intelligence to identify foods. If it doesn’t recognise something from its pre-programmed list, the fridge will ask what it is and you input the item on your smartphone. The fridge remembers it.
At £2,900, it’s not cheap, but you’ll never be lonely — you can always chat to the fridge.
SINK FILLS ITSELF — AND WASHES UP
Smart Sink, Squall, price on request, smart-sink.co.il
for an excuse never to do the washing up again, there’s the Smart Sink by Israeli company Squall, which fills with warm water and disinfectant solution on demand.
It uses water jets which work like an open-top dishwasher, for washing, cleaning and sterilising dishes, fruit and veg and baby bottles.
KETTLE YOU CAN BOIL FROM SCHOOL RUN
iKettle, Smarter, £99, smarter.am
One appliance was the iKettle (pictured) which you can boil by activating it with your smartphone
You can boil this clever kettle (right) remotely via an app, programme it to switch on and even set its temperature (85c-100c) for optimum-tasting tea. Christian Lane, CEO of Smarter, says: ‘If you have an elderly parent, you can link it to your phone, so you know when they’ve had a cup of tea. If you’re a new parent it’s perfect for night-time formula feeding — just boil the kettle from bed.’
It also reacts to voice commands and claims to be spill-proof, too.
OVEN TEXTS WHEN DINNER IS READY
Electric Smart Oven, Samsung, £1,080, currys.co.uk
You’ll never burn dinner with a smart oven. It not only texts when dinner is ready but allows you to check food and adjust the settings from your sofa.
Samsung’s Electric Smart Oven comes with a touchscreen control panel — and 80 pre-set programmes for popular meals.
The oven cooks with ‘Gourmet Vapour Technology’, using steam to emit heat and moisture.
You can also download recipes from Michelin-starred chefs and set the oven to cook perfect roasts or desserts.
Electric smart ovens (pictured) are another appliance that could soon be seen every single kitchen
WORKTOP TO CHARGE YOUR PHONE
Wireless Charger, Magnet, from £60, magnet.co.uk
It’s not enough to have a stylish worktop these days — it has to charge your phone, too. Magnet’s wireless charger can be hidden inside any worktop.
The 60cm x 10cm pad is compatible with most work surfaces, from marble to granite. Set your phone on top and technology does the rest.
HOB THAT KNOWS WHAT TO COOK
Home Connect Hob, Neff, from £1,380, neff-home.com
Smart induction hobs can be switched on and off and adjusted by app or voice command. The most expensive models can even automatically initiate your most frequently used setting when you stand in a particular spot, using motion sensor technology.
Neff’s Home Connect hob (from £1,380 to £3,180) comes with a movable, magnetic dial, meaning one knob controls the entire hob. The hood has an automatic air sensor, which switches on to remove odours while you cook.
WASHING MACHINE THAT TURNS ON DRYER
i-Dos Washing Machine, Bosch, £1,100, ao.com
Bosch’s i-Dos washing machine tells you when it’s finished, and gives you the option to start the dryer or open the door. You can wash on settings tailored to weight, colour and staining, and set the machine to start (or finish) at a time to suit you. The machine calculates detergent usage — and, when you run low, it’ll tell you to stock up.
The GeniCan (pictured) is both a rubbish bin and a shopping list. As you throw things away it scans them and adds them onto your shopping list
BIN TAKES CARE OF SHOPPING LIST TOO
GeniCan, £116, genican.com
You can even talk to your bin these days, thanks to GeniCan, which scans items as you throw them away and automatically adds them to your shopping list.
The rectangular gadget (below) — powered by batteries and wi-fi — works by scanning food and drink packaging barcodes and sending data to an app.
Then it not only writes a shopping list but can even order groceries from Amazon. You can also programme it to send a text to a family member when it needs emptying.
SMART MICROWAVE ALSO SCANS FOOD
Amazon Basics Microwave, £45, amazon.com
Designed to work with an Alexa device, this budget smart microwave is fitted with voice-activated settings — from defrosting vegetables to making popcorn, just tell it what you want to cook. Pre-set commands include: ‘Bake two potatoes’ or ‘Reheat one mug of soup’ and you can add your own.
Higher-spec versions (from £85) can scan contents and check weight using in-built scales to determine cooking time.
The Revolution Toaster (pictured) is a touch-screen toaster which allows you to select the exact level of crisp you want on your slice of toast
TOASTER THAT CAN TALK BACK AT YOU
Revolution Toaster, Revolution Cooking, £230, revcook.com
This talking, touchscreen- operated toaster (left) uses ‘Instaglow’ technology — and 63 settings — to guarantee perfectly crisp toast. It’s fitted with a timer and colour wheel so you can tell it how brown you want your bread.
WASH DISHES VIA AN APP
Smart Dishwasher, Samsung, from £625, samsung.com
No more guessing when the cycle will be done; you can switch this dishwasher on and monitor progress from your phone.
‘Zone-boosting’ technology lets you target powerful jets at dirty pots or pans. If you’ve run out of clean crockery, you can use the app to tell your dishwasher to get a move on before dinner.