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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Digital Kitchen


A survey earlier this year by a home builders association found (not surprisingly) that Americans consider their kitchens to be the nerve center of their homes; and, as such, they have some good ideas about how they want them to be digitally equipped.

The primary things that they asked for were -

* A digital calendar. The primary kitchen user, typically is also the primary schedule keeper and preferred a digital calendar over 22 other concepts. The calendar should be on a large screen used to add appointments and post notes all household members can access in the kitchen or remotely via the Internet.

* A recipe projection system. Lose those food-stained recipe cards and books. Eighty percent of those surveyed want some sort of wireless, voice-activated recipe projection system that would display recipes onto a kitchen surface.

* An energy monitor and control. Home owners want to monitor energy consumption by room and appliance to chart peak energy usage times, to diagnose areas of wasted energy, and to calculate energy costs.

* A home control station. Perhaps the appointment screen could also double as a monitor for the HVAC and security systems. Home owners requested a screen where they can view the temperature inside and outside of their home, adjust the thermostat on a touch pad and view live video of both the front and back of their house.

* A universal charging station. What better place than the social kitchen to juice up cell phones, personal digital assistants, iPods and the like. One-third of households reported that they currently keep their cell phones on the kitchen counter and one-half said they keep their phone chargers there as well.

* Wireless Internet access. Twenty-nine percent of all homeowners and 43 percent of those remodeling their homes want the Internet served up in the kitchen for Web surfing and email but not for offline applications.

The vast majority of home owners, 85 percent, said they don't watch videos or movies in the kitchen. Likewise, video games have no place in the kitchen for 93 percent of those polled. Most say just stick to a television and wireless broadband. Most parents, 59 percent, would rather kids not do home work in the kitchen. However, 48 percent said their kids do crack the books while the household chef is cracking eggs - perhaps to have their "information resource" close at hand. Likewise, 69 percent would prefer their kids not do arts and crafts in the kitchen, while 43 percent allow their kids to get creative on paper in the kitchen - there's no better way to add some authenticity to a report on Michelangelo work on the Sistine Chapel than to have some Italian tomato sauce spilled on one corner.

I seldom see kitchens in this area that have more than a cursory bow towards any of these ideas. Most still just have a little desk, albeit with a granite top in the higher-end homes, off to one side of the kitchen where mom can supposedly set up her computer. Are we behind the times again?

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