“Good morning Kevin” comes a disembodied voice similar to HAL, the rogue computer from  Stanley Kubrick’s, 2001: A Space Odyssey.  “You’re up early today  . . . did you sleep well?”  “Just fine Kitchen” I respond “I have an early morning meeting at the office, so I’m in a hurry”.  “Coffee or Cappuccino?” comes the voice.  ”Coffee please,” says I.  ”Cereal or eggs?” asks the Kitchen.   “Just toast this morning” I answer.  ”CNN or Sponge Bob?” as the screen on the smart oven comes to life.   And so my day begins.  Science fiction?  No, just a glimpse of things to come.

Just imagine for a moment, in the not so distant future, when your “wi-fi” enabled home will permit your dishwasher to call you at work to let you know that it has sprang a leak . . . but not to worry, it has already informed the service company and they will be out between 9 and 12 on Tuesday. 

Or maybe you’re caught in rush-hour traffic and you will be 30 minutes late . . . so you call your oven from your smart phone to recalibrate the cooking time on your roast to be ready at 8:30 instead of 8 as you had hoped.  In this new age,  your smart oven will be able to connect with the manufacturer to self-diagnostics as well as down-load updates, patches, recipes and cooking instruction, all on its own.

With this new networking application, your refrigerator will be able to take inventory of itself and will place an order for all pre-selected items to be replenished automatically with an online grocery service.  It has also ordered a few additional items that will be needed for tonight’s dinner party.  It may even make a few suggestions for wine.

Networked appliances will be the next big thing to hit your kitchen with “wi-fi” technology rapidly creeping into all of our home electronics.  It will be just a matter of time before the kitchen becomes the central core of family life once again.

Appliances that think and plan-out menus, re-order and re-stock are already on the drawing boards, if not the assembly lines.  The next wave of microwaves will have a scanner to read the package of chili or popcorn and then preset itself for operation.

The family calendar on the refrigerator will update everyone’s calendar, from Mom’s computer at work to sis’s cell phone.  It will be able to download and update brother’s ipod with all of his favorites, and Dad can check on the solar collectors on the roof as well as the energy consumption for the entire house.  He will even be able to turn off lights or turn on the sprinklers from his iPad.  It will keep everyone informed with all of the days events and activities, including soccer practice and dental appointments.  It will even remind Grandma to take her pills and Grandpa that he has a 6:30 Tee-Time. 

In the not-so-distant future, the kitchen will be able to read your personal electro-magnetic field when you enter the room and begin to brew your favorite beverage, and up-date your portfolio and download your tweets, all while you wait for your bagel.  .

Eventually the kitchen itself will become one huge, connected appliance that reads your lifestyle patterns, anticipates your needs for food, lighting, entertainment, and cleanup, and performs functions automatically.  All without an explicit human command.

Whether this kitchen comes to pass, the modern kitchen will continue to be the heart, if not the hub, of the modern home, an essential element in our daily lives that touches and affects us both physically and emotionally.  A place where we seek communion, rejuvenation, and sanctuary.  Of all the items we will choose for our home, today’s kitchen will provide us with a unique outlet for creation and self-expression.

Designer, writer and speaker, Kevin Henry has been a “thought-leader” to the kitchen industry for over 25 years and is sought out for his views and observations regarding market trends and industry direction.  His blog, The Essential Kitchen (www.theessentialkitchen.blogspot.com), is followed world-wide by both consumers as well as industry and media leaders.  Kevin is invited to speak internationally on a wide range of topics, including luxury branding, sustainable kitchen design and market trends.   Mr Henry has been behind the success of such iconic brands as Snaidero, Poliform/Varenna, Küppersbusch, ALNO in North America.  Today, Mr Henry is the Director of Business Development for DACOR, a leading North American appliance manufacturer dedicated to redefining the boundaries of the modern kitchen.