GE’s Kitchen of the Future with more talking refrigerators

GE's kitchen dashboard
While the GE research question seems entirely valid (“How can we create products to enhance people’s entire kitchen experience?”), the final prototype that came out of its research on the ‘kitchen of the future’ is exactly what you do not want a kitchen to look like: a huge and complex looking dashboard full of blinking and twirling windows that talk to you in a 21st century Epcot style.

I would argue that ubiquitous computing doesn’t mean omni-present interfaces, but rather hidden technology helping people in a way so they don’t even notice the presence of technology. Ubiquitous computing to me is technology that is not present in the user experience.

GE started from the right question but, due to lack of user research, their entire concept of the future was based on what engineers and designers could dream up, which ended up being a technology-centred vision of the future.

Here is how they describe it themselves:

“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.”

“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.”

Read full GE press release (and make sure to watch the videos).

If you read Spanish, you should compare this with some of the more interesting work going on in Spain at the moment, which is all about design for the senses, and embraces the user experience of people with disabilities or different abilities. [Thanks, Regine]. We need a ‘slow food’ of technology, I think.

(via freegorifero)

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  1. Ya, sounds like pretty standard “solution in search of a problem” stuff when it comes to kitchen design. These are pretty much all ideas that seemed to have been dreamed up by someone who doesn’t like food or cooking, or appreciate the tactile sensual qualities of it.