The debate continues about whether smart technology makes sense in the kitchen. It’s hard to argue against appliances that notify owners of problems and schedule service. However, some object to delegating tasks and thinking to smart devices and worry that they are making us lazy – or worse, dumb and anti-social.
Who Is Interested in Smart Home Tech?
Because the baby boomer population continues to grow and people are busier than ever, one can easily make the case for employing smart technology in kitchen design. Configuring smart devices and appliances with smart phones, Google Home or Amazon Alexa lets you remotely complete tasks that normally require your presence or direct touch.
According to The New York Times article, “To Invade Homes, Tech Is Trying to Get in Your Kitchen,” only 5 percent of Americans own smart appliances. In a related survey from October 2017, RICKI – Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence revealed statistics about who is interested in smart technology: 69 percent of Generation X, 62 percent of millennials, 23 percent of baby boomers and only 2 percent of the mature population. If only 5 percent of Americans own smart appliances, these percentages translate to fairly small numbers, and interest does not necessarily result in a purchase.
Appliance Brands Need to Walk the Talk
I live in the North Carolina region known as Research Triangle Park, which is home to numerous IT companies from hi-tech startups to well-established giants like IBM. Local designers enjoy a higher level of interest in technology products here.
During a recent visit to The Appliance Center in Durham, N.C., I spoke with owner, Stu Stewart, and marketing director, Kim Stewart. They supply appliances to the building and design communities, as well as homeowners. They report seeing a limited number of homeowners or builders seeking smart appliances, and 80 percent of consumers are not computer-savvy. The Appliance Center’s staff receives training on smart technology from the brands, which equips them with the knowledge to educate their customers.
Appliance sellers need to be educated and current with smart technology to efficiently sell it. Combine uneducated consumers with untrained sales professionals, and the percentages noted by RICKI are not surprising. If the seller cannot explain the benefits and uses of smart features, how likely is s/he to make the sale?
Maybe Bertazzoni president, Paolo Bertazzoni, has the right idea – the enduring Italian appliance company does not want its appliances to rely on a smart phone. The main objective for their appliances is that they cook well.
Bertazzoni’s 48-in. six burner and griddle
We live in exciting and changing times in the design industry. Some consumers will find the idea of smart technology in the kitchen irresistible. But me, I’d rather spend the extra money on a snazzy range and sit around the table talking with my family.