In Newsletter #2 we discussed how Autonomous Vehicles will be hitting the market in seven to eight years. How will this impact other products such as those in the kitchen? Years ago science fiction writers pictured vehicles being driven by androids. But this is not how vehicles are becoming autonomous. Instead sensors, actuators, communications, and emerging complex computation systems are being added to make vehicles autonomous.Robotic researchers are working on expensive androids for the home. However, the same strategy of adding sensors, actuators, communications, and emerging complex computation will bring affordable autonomous appliances to the kitchen much quicker. The question is which manufacturers will be first. Imagine a smart refrigerator that is connected to a smart phone and a smart convection oven/microwave. You will be able to instruct your smart kitchen to reheat a frozen dinner that will be ready when you arrive home. Add smart food preparation appliances and sinks and freshly prepared food will be created in the same way. All of this is well within reach within the same seven to eight year time frame discussed in Newsletter #2 for autonomous vehicles or even earlier.How will this impact the kitchen? The layout and construction of appliances, cabinets, and counters will be affected as will the plumbing, dishes, pots, and pans. Is your business ready? Or are you focused only on products similar to buggy whips, which disappeared when horses were replaced by cars?
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Usage Examples Usage Example One: Groceries are delivered to the automated food preparation station, are separated if necessary and sent to the freezer/refrigerator or pantry/cupboard areas.Usage Example Two: New Dishes, Pots, Pan, and utensil are cleaned, dried and delivered to the pantry/cupboard area.
Usage Example Three: Cold food such as fresh fruits and even fresh ice cream is prepared and sent back to the freezer/refrigerator for temporary storage. More temperature gradations will be available than today in both cooling and warming areas for different food needs. Food is moved back to the automated food preparation area for final delivery just before consumption.
Usage Example Four: Food is moved from both the pantry/cupboard and freezer/refrigerator to the automated food preparation station, unpacked, prepared for cooking, and then sent to the cooking station where it is cooked. Refuse from unpacking, slicing and dicing is put into appropriate refuse/recycle/sewage areas just below the automated food preparation area. After cooking, food is sent to the warming area just below cooking. Food is moved back to the automated food preparation area for delivery just before consumption. Final food presentation can be tuned at this time.
Usage Example Five: The automated food preparation area is used both for final food delivery as well and a retrieval area for dirty dishes and unfinished portions. Both water pressure and heated air are used in this area to clean dishes, which are then automatically returned to the cupboard/pantry area for storage.
Usage Example Six: Packaging is automatically removed and sorted into trash and recyclables. Separate recycling bins are available for paper, metal, and plastic containers. Preparation of produce produces bio-refuse which can be stored for reuse as fertilizer. Water pressure takes other bio-refuse into the sewage system.
Usage Example Seven: Dishes, Pots, Pan, utensil, and storage containers are delivered from and returned to the cupboard/pantry area for usage in the automated food preparation area.
Usage Example Eight: Mobile phones, web and computer based applications, microphones, and phones, can be used both in written and auditory form to communicate desired food, quantity and timing. Interfaces include menu options based upon food stores, dietary constraints, dietary preferences, nutrition needs, variety, weather conditions, holidays and other information.
Usage Example Nine: The system monitors food store levels, food spoilage/expiration, dish breakage and other issues. Providing notifications such as grocery lists when appropriate.
Usage Example Ten: The automated food preparation area can store left overs in containers retrieved from the cupboard/pantry and then send the load over to the freezer/refrigerator.
Usage Example Eleven: Owners of automated food preparation systems can provide low-level catering services. There are many web-based services that now offer rental of personal vehicles and homes on short term bases. Similar web-based services can be created for personal catering and pooling of catering. As software is used to maintain cleanliness and quality of food in these systems, safety and quality can be assured and authenticated.
Usage Example Twelve: The kitchen preparation area will require less floor space for counters and cabinets as storage will be optimized around automated retrieval as opposed to immediate and regular human access. Social and eating areas will be expanded. More in home entertainment will occur, due to the massive reduction of effort required for preparation. Larger in-home social gatherings will occur through web-based sharing of resource such as coop catering.
Winners: Mechanisms and software manufacturers, as more of both components will be in use. Repair services, as more complex elements will be in the home. Automated cabinet, refrigerator, food preparation, and oven manufactures. The general public will win significant amounts of time, money, and space in the long term. Kitchen re-designers will be busy remaking the world’s food spaces.
Losers: Old style cabinets/counters, dishwashers, stoves/ovens, and refrigerator manufactures will be left in the dust. Dish and food implement manufacturers that do not adapt to the new paradigm will become like the buggy whip manufacturers of old and go out of business. Fast food as well as many other restaurants will become less needed. They will start disappearing, just as many other types of store fronts have started to be replaced by web-based enterprises. Only social and entertainment based restaurants will remain and actually thrive as more leisure time becomes available for the larger community. Even food manufactures will feel a major squeeze, as home automated food processing starts migrating to preparation from fresh produce.
Video: Envision moving blades and other manipulators for cutting, mixing, placing, peeling, washing, and drying, in place of the Rubik cube manipulators in the below video to get an idea of how fast a food preparation unit could operate.