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Modern kitchens invade, invisibly

Where are the smart appliances

The Seattle Home Show is happening February 18-26. The latest appliances and fixtures are supposed to be there. Dozens or hundreds were already at the Consumer Electronics Show that happened in Las Vegas in January. Seattle seems like an obvious place to find such advances. We’re certainly techie enough. We’re the source of many of the things that early adopters adopt. Yet, search through the real estate listings and the dominant terms for describing kitchens are stainless steel appliances, granite/marble/quartz counters, modern lighting, and maybe an espresso machine. Where’s the smart kitchen for our smart residents?

Dick Stein of KNKX, “I am not a Luddite. I'm not; I'm not; I'm not!“, broadcast a fun article describing his foodie perception of the coming revolution. Create a smart kitchen and the technological response can be far worse than a smoke alarm accidentally going off. But the brochures claim great benefits from appliances understanding your needs.

Being able to communicate with your appliances comes from two advances, intelligent assistants like Alexa or Cortana, and cheap wi-fi. Nancy Leson, Dick Stein’s online cooking partner, pointed out the value of being able to tell Alexa to set a timer or add something to her shopping list. Cheap wi-fi is happening because the basic hardware only costs $10, according to Wired. Developing the right software, well, that costs a lot more and can have catastrophic results.

Connected but without the right protections can mean hacked. Tell your assistant something, and maybe someone else can hear it, too. Say the wrong thing and who knows what you may buy.

Maybe the smart kitchen, or even the smart house, isn’t showing up in listings often because the technology has become more seamless than the heavy approaches of 2000. Kitchens can be too harsh, or too messy, for fragile screens. Voice-activated equipment blends into the scene, keeping the kitchen’s appearance more conventional. Perhaps agents are leaving out the details to not scare away Luddites. Or maybe people aren’t buying them as quickly as manufacturers and futurists expect.

One solution: go to the shows and appliance dealers to see what’s available and not just some picture in a brochure or on a web site. Then ask yourself. Why or why not?