Fifteen Minutes into the Future by Kevin Henry

“Good morning Kevin” comes a disembodied voice. “You’re up early today…did you sleep well?” “Just fine Kitchen…I have an early morning meeting at the office…so I’m in a hurry”. “Coffee or Cappuccino?” comes the voice…”Coffee” says I…”Cereal or eggs?” “Just toast this morning” I answer…”CNN or Sponge Bob” as the screen on the refrigerator comes to life…and so my day begins.

Science Fiction…no…just a glimpse of things to come…

In Italy your dishwasher may 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.

In Norway you are caught behind a slow moving elk herd and will be 30 minutes late…so you call your oven to recalibrate the cooking time on your roast to be done at 8:30.

In Korea…the refrigerator has taken inventory and has placed an order for all pre-programmed 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.

In Germany…the fully automated coffee machine can make your favorite cappuccino to your specific taste as well as all the other members of the family.

And in the US…cooking is as simple as 1..2..3 with your pre-programmed oven…you simply choose from the menu, fish, beef or fowl…punch in the weight, as well as the time you would like to serve and then just press “OK”…you are now a gourmet chef all with the single touch of your finger.

Networked appliances will be the next big thing to hit your kitchen…with “Bluetooth” technology slowly creeping into all of our home electronics…it will be just a matter of time before our kitchen becomes the central core to all home activities.

Appliances that think and plan-out menus, re-order and re-stock are already on 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 Moms computer at work to sis’s cell phone to Dad’s PDA with all of today’s events, including soccer practice and dental appointments…It will remind Grandma to take her pills and Grandpa that he has a 6:30 Tee-Time.

As for the other appliances…as they are connected to the internet…they will receive electronic upgrades and they can self diagnose problems and download cures. Shortly your kitchen will read your personal electro-magnetic field when you enter the kitchen and begin to brew your favorite beverage and up-date your portfolio, all while you wait for your bagel to be toasted.

Eventually the kitchen itself will become one huge, computerized 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.

Kevin Henry is the Executive VP of NYLOFT, as well as writer, speaker and industry activist.