The connected home was a fantasy just a decade ago. A home that can respond to your demands and adjust to your preferences sounds more like the premise of an awesome “Twilight Zone” episode. But with the introduction of smart technology into everyday appliances, the completely connected home is now a reality.
Products like Nest, which allow users to control their thermostat via their mobile phone, and other smart technology, such as the Cinder Sensing Cooker, a skillet which uses smart sensors to adjust cooking temperature based on the food and desired result (such as rare versus medium rare), the connected home is ushering in a new era of convenience for homeowners.
But that’s the problem that we at Digital Telepathy have with the most recent generation of smart products for the home, they are simply that: convenient. Yes, it’s great to be able to turn off lights, control the temperature of your house, and even lock and unlock doors from your mobile phone, but it is certainly not going to change your life. Much of the connected home technology has come in the form of gadgets. We haven’t really seen successful integration with larger appliances or truly compelling use cases. Yet.
The Smart Stove
We have an in-house innovation team here working to apply our design practice to everyday problems and improve the lives of more people — redesigning life’s experiences, not just digital interfaces. The team turned their attention to the connected home and one of the most ubiquitous experiences in the world: cooking. We examined the possibilities of designing a smart microwave or even a smart refrigerator, but we didn’t feel that those concepts would create enough impact for the end user. After some careful deliberation, we decided to design a stove worthy of Jane Jetson, instead of June Cleaver.
In 2013, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that just 44 percent of households cooked dinner 2 to 5 times a week. This made us think, improving upon the stove’s technology for the everyday cook would ultimately help people cook better food. Instead of simply making a stove more convenient (like turning on your oven from your phone…come on, that’s too easy), we set out to overhaul the entire cooking experience and make it easier and more fun for everyone.
To get started, we conducted a thorough investigation into today’s stove technology, examining what is available currently for the average consumer and what is truly missing. We talked to regular Joes who cook at home, and some professional chefs, too, to discover what one experiences when they cook.
When looking at the user journey for cooking, there were opportunities for improvement. While the prep and cooking experiences may be better than shopping, actually following the recipe (especially with modifications) can be a daunting task. It seemed so easy online, but when you compare your finished product with the photo, it looks nothing like it should.
Been there before? Us too. That is why we asked ourselves, “How can we make preparing and cooking a good meal nearly foolproof?”
Creating The Concept
Once we identified the friction within the cooking experience, and heard from users about their own personal experiences, we decided we would design our Smart Stove features around three stages: Recipe exploration, preparation and cooking.
Whiteboard sketches were diagrammed with greater fidelity to allow the ideas to marinate.
We set out to design a Smart Stove that was a completely realistic concept, something that could easily be integrated into the today’s kitchen. Our innovation team spent weeks brainstorming features, whiteboarding ideas, and vetting through user interviews to come up with the features of the stove. Staying true to the goal of completely achievable technology, we also brought in engineers to discuss if what we envisioned could really be brought to life.
With features in mind, we created wireframes and sketches for the stove to be sure that the function and design was seamless and consistent.
From choosing recipes and preparing ingredients, to physically cooking your meal, the Smart Stove completely changes the way we find recipes, prepare and cook our meals.