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The New York Times writes about how “the kitchen is the center of the home and a locus for interactions that go beyond preparing and eating food. Now tech companies and appliance makers, aiming to deepen their relationships with customers, are increasingly targeting the room that is synonymous with togetherness.

“Household brands like Whirlpool, Samsung and Bosch are racing against tech behemoths like Google and Amazon to dominate the kitchen with internet-connected appliances and cooking gadgets that include refrigerators embedded with touch screens, smart dishwashers and connected countertop screens with artificially intelligent assistants that react to spoken commands.”

While tech companies are highly engaged and invested in smart kitchen technologies, the Times points out that this is unlikely to be a smooth and barrier-free path to broad consumer acceptance.

For one thing, there is a sense - growing of late - that connected appliances make a house more vulnerable to hackers and fundamentally less private. (If Russians can hack into the national power grid, why not our kitchens?) And, there are the economics of such a shift - we’re used to recycling our smart phones and laptops every few years, but refrigerators are expected to last a lot longer; will making them more tech-savvy mean that they’ll be out of date faster, or even go out of fashion more quickly?

And finally, there is the fact that the traditional kitchen tends to reflect “the rhythms and patterns in the heart of the home,” and so people may be more resistant to disruption there.
KC's View:
The points made in the piece - both about the disruptive power of these technologies and the capacity of many people to resist them for a variety of reasons - each strike me as entirely legitimate.

The voice-activated technologies like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home are sort of the first wave in the technological invasion - they’re getting us used to what’s possible before seducing us into potential. In my case, I’m happy to use my Echo Show in the kitchen, but it will be a long time, I’d guess, before I’d invest in a smart refrigerator or oven. (Some of this may be age - I’m old enough to remember a time when refrigerators and freezers didn’t defrost themselves , and so I count that advance as a a BFD. As for the oven, I’d just love gas instead of electric … I don’t need to be able to turn it on from another room.)

These advances may be the province of the extremely well-off for the time being. I would, however, make two other, admittedly contradictory points.

First, these changes almost always happen faster and more decisively than anyone can expect or predict. And second, I have this feeling, based on current events, that we may be about to enter a period of retrenchment when it comes to some technologies, as we’ve been aware by Facebook of exactly how vulnerable we can be.