How Interactive Pantries Offer Smart Kitchen Solutions

Don Gordon

The Internet of Things (IoT) is showing up in our homes in new and inventive ways. Many innovations focus on security and comfort: Smart home security systems can automatically turn on lights and unlock doors with a push of a smartphone button, for example, and thermostats like Nest help homeowners set the perfect indoor temperature.

IoT has entertainment covered too. Interconnected computers, smart TVs, and remotes let you stream your favorite shows to the devices of your choice. Even more pervasive are virtual personal assistants like Amazon’s Echo. Cued by your verbal instructions, they play music, forecast the weather, and even order a pizza.

While smart devices can be found in nearly every room of the house, one space that has seen fewer IoT inroads is the kitchen. Some smaller kitchen appliances, such as crock pots and sous vide cookers, have been integrated with smart technology to ensure perfect cooking times for meals. But what about larger appliances?

In fact, IoT is starting to be built into pantries and refrigerators. These smart kitchen innovations will soon be able to order products, reduce food waste, and help people make better nutritional choices.

Interactive pantries make meal planning smarter

Smart pantries can make meal planning and preparation more efficient and enjoyable. For example, while you are at the grocery store, cameras in an interactive pantry, or smart shelves that can scan RFID tags, can count items and determine what is already there so you can purchase only the items you need.

Interactive pantries, refrigerators, ovens, and stoves can also make meal preparation easier. An interactive pantry can scan the contents of shelves to create a recipe using available ingredients. Using the IoT and an online Internet connection, the pantry can access the smart refrigerator to determine thaw times for certain meats to be added to the recipe. Then the smart refrigerator can connect to the oven to set the right temperature and cook time for the meal.

The homeowner could then simply prep the food and place it in the oven to cook. This interconnected kitchen environment can streamline the daily routine, enabling families to spend more time enjoying the meal and interacting with each other.

Improving food ordering and nutrition

While most IoT technology can be used to track inventory, other innovations can help people stay healthy. With the use of scanners and cameras, interactive pantries can evaluate nutritional labels on products, helping users stick to calorie counts or other dietary requirements. The interactive pantry can make nutritional suggestions to help users get recommended daily allowance of proteins and vitamins.

For people with little time to shop, interactive pantries and refrigerators can scan the contents of shelves and create lists of items that are running low. These items can then be ordered online at brick-and-mortar stores. With linked payment options, customers can then simply pick up the groceries at their convenience. The interactive pantry can also order food online from selected e-retailers and set up delivery days and times.

Creating interconnectivity for better food management

Food-borne illnesses and spoilage can be a serious health problem. Instead of keeping track of individual expiration labels, consumers can use smart jars equipped with scanners that alert them when food should be disposed of.

This technology can also update users when they are running low on certain ingredients by sending information to a smartphone, tablet, or activity tracking device. This can help users avoid overspend on food items they don’t need and reduce waste.

Interactive pantries find the technology spotlight

As more companies focus integrating IoT innovations in the kitchen, the range of appliances and products is increasing. By connecting smart pantries, stoves, and refrigerators to mobile devices, companies will be better able to help customers improve food selection and promote healthier lifestyles.

Learn how to innovate at scale by incorporating individual innovations back to the core business to drive tangible business value: Accelerating Digital Transformation in Consumer Products. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today: Industry 4.0: What’s Next?

About Don Gordon

Don Gordon leads global Consumer Products industry marketing for SAP. Previously he led global Retail industry marketing for IBM. He lives in Philadelphia, considered by many to be the finest city on earth.