The Kitchen of the Future

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January 12, 2006 You are at the office and decide to invite friends over for dinner that night. What's for dinner? Just pick up the phone and call home. Your kitchen can give you a heads up on what foods you have in the refrigerator and pantry, suggest menus that use some of those foods, and once you've selected the menu, it will supply a grocery list for other items you need to pick up. Use the same call to leave a message for your spouse to put some wine in the refrigerator to chill. Sound impossible? When the brightest minds at the Industrial Design Operation of GE Consumer & Industrial were asked to design the Kitchen of the Future - that is how they imagined it. For a demonstration of GE's Kitchen of the Future, see this WMV movie, and for a video explanation, click here.

"This design exercise affords the perfect opportunity to showcase the innovative thinking of GE's industrial designers and engineers. These are the men and women who will conceptualize tomorrow's kitchen," explains Paul Klein, general manager of brand and advertising for GE Consumer & Industrial. An interconnected suite

Imagine awaking in the morning and walking into the kitchen. Ask about the weather and a voice responds to your question with the accurate current weather and forecast. Ask, "What's for breakfast?" and the kitchen will offer a list of foods available and menu possibilities. Select your meal, and you're ready to start the simple preparations needed. And, when some of what you cooked for breakfast still remains on the cooktop, no worries, the cooktop will clean itself.

The concept kitchen is envisioned as an interconnected suite of products with interactive controls. This suite of appliances is designed for efficiency. A modular approach to the kitchen configuration affords efficiencies in energy, advances in usability and a sleek minimal style.

The entire suite offers a full-width display combined with touch sensors across the entire surface. What does that mean for consumers? Imagine new possibilities for recipe presentation and entertainment. In total, this surface affords multiple levels of interaction and the navigation of complex information.

Interconnected pieces communicate with each other and coordinate the effort using predictive computing. Imagine a kitchen taking inventory of the food in the refrigerator, presenting menu options and creating a shopping list. A cooking guide walks consumers through the process of new cooking techniques or simple meal preparation.

GE's industrial designers and engineers envision organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology as the primary lighting source in the kitchen of the future and have represented this with a fabric canopy with lights above the kitchen.

The height of each appliance offers comfortable access to the work and information areas within an easy to reach "strike zone." It can be installed at varying heights depending upon user preference and is advantageous to those with limited mobility.

Focus on environmentally friendly products The GE Kitchen of the Future will put a focus on environmentally friendly products to reduce pollution and increase efficiency while lowering operating costs.

The Kitchen of the Future will provide clean water purified via ultraviolet light, assuring that the water is free of bacteria, without chemicals. Consumers will load the dishwasher with detergent in bulk, and it will be dispensed via algorithms to minimize the cleaning agents in wastewater. GE envisions that in the future, gray (waste) water can be diverted for other home and garden applications.

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