Modern-day kitchens are the heart of every home, but they're also becoming its technological hub

Today's kitchens serve a vital role in every home. Not only are they where the main meals are prepared and served, but they are the central axis around which the rest of the house revolves.

A meeting spot for family members heading out or returning home. A congregation point for friends and visitors. A hub for the most cutting-edge technology in the home.

If you're surprised by that last point, you haven't perused the latest appliances or kitchen gadgets. Kitchens have certainly evolved since their earliest days as a walled-in room serving a singular purpose, and appliance and technology companies are pushing the kitchen's place within the home even further.

Whether taking advantage of AI or our app-crazed society, they're banking on the idea that a connected kitchen is the best kitchen.

But kitchen technology isn't just about slapping the word “smart” on everything—although that certainly helps. Some of the most useful tech in today's kitchens are cutting-edge and practical.

So, let's take a tour of the modern-day heart of the home and explore seven of the best pieces of home technology for your kitchen.

The Smartest Appliance of All

We start our foray into kitchen tech with one of the most significant pieces of “wow” you could ever own—a smart refrigerator.

If you've seen these grand appliances on a display floor, you probably asked yourself “just how useful can this be?” The answer is “far more than you imagine.” For example, consider the fridge that many believe is the best of this expanding line—the Samsung Family Hub

It's a streaming music player, a digital photo display, a virtual white or bulletin board, and a window inside your fridge—without opening the door. And that's before you access its numerous available apps. You can find recipes, create shopping lists or, better yet, actually shop for groceries and have them delivered, or order take-out and have that delivered.

And when deliveries arrive, the Samsung fridge links up with your Ring doorbell so you can see and speak with the delivery-person (or anyone else that shows up) directly from the fridge screen.

The fridge is flexible too, with three- and four-door French door versions, a side-by-side version, and a flex option that lets you adjust temperature zones.

There are other smart fridges on the market. LG and GE both produce intelligent refrigerators; the latter even has a built-in K-Cup machine! But there is nothing quite like the Family Hub.

A Heads-Up Assistant

GE might trail Samsung in the field of high IQ refrigeration, but they do produce an impressive kitchen hub of their own. 

The GE Profile Kitchen Hub is a range hood with a 27-inch display screen and forward- and down-facing cameras built into it. 

The first two features come with obvious implications—video chatting, recipe and cooking videos, and streaming TV and music capabilities. Yes, you can binge your favorite Netflix show while you prepare breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

The downward camera provides a birds-eye view of what's happening on the stove, which is surprisingly effective if there's more than one pot boiling at a time.

Future models will feature a microwave hidden behind the screen, along with a third camera focused on food monitoring. GE's Hub, as well as the Samsung fridge, signal a move to make the kitchen equal parts food prep and entertainment space. 

Cooking with Science

Even if you've never heard of the phrase “sous vide,” there's a good chance you've tasted something that resulted from this long-standing method of slow-cooking.

Sous vide means “under vacuum” in French. A longtime staple in many fine dining establishments, sous vide cooks food uniformly according to your preferred level of doneness. 

The process itself is relatively simple. Food, most often a protein, is sealed into a bag with all of the air removed. You then immerse it into a circulating water bath where the temperature stays constant throughout the cooking process. Once completed the food is then "finished" with a short sear or grill to produce its final outer texture.

That level of perfection is now readily available at home through a growing number of affordable precision cookers. Anova and Joule are two of the most popular. 

In Pursuit of the Perfect Cocktail

If you're a fan of Keurig's coffee pod machine but also enjoy an evening cocktail, then you're going to love the company's latest innovation—the Drinkworks Home Bar.

Operating in a manner similar to their K-Cup coffee brewers, you insert your drink pod of choice and Drinkwork's machine produces a perfectly mixed libation. And it's not just a handful of barroom basics—you’ll have access to over 20 drink options, including margaritas, sangria, and even Stella Artois Cidre.

If you prefer doing the pouring yourself, seek out the drink machine from Bartesian. Although their version features a pod for the mixer, the alcohol is all you, with four reservoirs to handle your favorite spirits (or water, should the recipe require it).

No, these drink machines are not smart or connected to any app—not yet, anyway. They do, however, represent one of the most important aspects of any new or evolving kitchen technology—convenience. 

Building a Better Grocery List

Not all of the latest kitchen tech is about storing or making food; indeed, some of the best ideas often prove to be the simplest. 

Consider your grocery list. Most often, our food lists are handwritten scribbles wadded up into a pocket or wallet or forgotten at the bottom of a purse. An item or two is overlooked, and inevitably, it's usually something important that requires an additional run to the store.

Now, imagine if your list could be updated, in real-time, at the point you discard an item.

That's the genius of the GeniCan. This small barcode scanner attaches to almost any trash can. Then, upon tossing away an empty box of, let's say, your kid's favorite mac and cheese, you can scan the barcode. From that point, the GeniCan uploads the item to your grocery list maintained in the scanner's smartphone app.

The scanner also has a built-in mic so that you can add an item via voice. For instance, if you ate your last apple and tossed away the core, you can tell it to add apples to your list. And if you don't need something, simply toss it away without saying or scanning anything.

Smart Gardening

If you love to cook, no doubt you also love the flavor that fresh herbs and spices can add to any meal. However, many of us don't have the time, space, or green thumb necessary to cultivate our own herb garden.

Leave it to the advancing world of technology to come up with a modern solution to old school methods. That solution is the Click and Grow Smart Garden.

A cross between a Keurig pod coffee machine and a traditional window box planter, the Click and Grow, and other similar products, makes herb gardening a breeze. 

Slightly larger than a stand mixer, the system includes an LED growing lamp and uses plant pods to jump-start plant growth. The appropriate amount of nutrients is already included, so your plant IQ can be next to nothing, but your burgeoning green thumb will still be successful.

And if you think you're limited to just a few essential herbs, think again. Beyond a wide array of common and not-so-common herbs, you can grow kale, peppers, chilis, peas, tomatoes, and strawberries. For the more adventurous, some variations include blueberries, pineapple, and even watermelon.

Connected Cooking

If it seems like practically every appliance in your kitchen—both large and small—is connected, well, it's not too far from the truth. 

From microwaves to instant pots to coffee makers to toasters, there truly is an app for everything. But much of that smart technology is small potatoes. After all, making coffee or toast isn't a difficult task to begin with, and asking Alexa to do it just means you won’t have to push a button.

However, the Hestan Cue Smart Induction Burner and Fry Pan applies its smart technology to the actual act of cooking. The company also features a Chef's Pot and Sauce Pot.

Similar to the sous vide method mentioned earlier, the Smart Burner, through sensors in both the pan and its accompanying cooktop, removes a lot of the guesswork out of meal prepping. Gone are the days of under- or overcooked food. Unlike sous vide, it keeps you involved from beginning to end.

The Smart Burner app guides you step-by-step through its recipes. You'll get the timing and temperature just right, have fun doing it, and, of course, add one more piece of technology to your modern-day kitchen toolbox.

From shopping for food to storing it, from growing your own ingredients to setting the perfect ambiance, home technology is helping you streamline and personalize every aspect of your kitchen. With these new gadgets, preparing delicious meals and creating a special dining experience has never been simpler.

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