A recipe for overkill

The Internet Home Alliance, having already needlessly networked our laundry rooms, will soon unveil its grand vision for “the ideal digital kitchen.” Bet you didn’t know you wanted a “recipe projection system.”

Backed by such household names as Whirlpool, Cisco, HP, Intel, Microsoft and the National Association of Home Builders, the alliance will offer consumer survey data and the cook’s tour of its futuristic kitchen at the 2007 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show on May 8 in Las Vegas. The group’s laundry initiative didn’t do much for me, and I can’t say I’m any more excited by the kitchen, at least based on a draft press release.

But it’s your ideal kitchen, so you make the call. Here’s how the release describes the various features.

Recipe Projection System

“Eight in 10 [of the 602 homeowners] surveyed said they cook for enjoyment, and 64 per cent do so at least several times per week. Consumers reported wanting a wireless recipe projection system that would allow them to look up a recipe online, or even say aloud what they want to cook (for example ”beef stroganoff”), and then have the recipe projected onto a surface in the kitchen from a small cabinet-mounted device.” Honestly now. Being someone who cooks primarily to keep the Department of Social Services from taking my children, I find it difficult to believe that even enthusiastic recreational cooks find this projection concept compelling. Of course, you can sign me up for any gadget that lets me say “beef stroganoff” and then see steaming plates of the stuff magically appear on my dinner table.

Energy Usage Monitoring and Control System.

“Those surveyed reported wanting to monitor energy consumption by area (family room, swimming pool) and appliance (hot water heater); to monitor energy use by circuit; to chart peak energy use times; to diagnose areas of wasted energy; and to calculate energy costs. This concept was most popular in the West, where California recently became the first state in the nation to impose an emissions cap on utilities, refineries and factories.” I live in the East, where Massachusetts recently became the first state in the nation to laugh uncontrollably at Californians who would have the time and inclination to monitor their energy consumption room by room.

Home Control Station.

“Consumers want a home-control station in their kitchen that allows them to manage their HVAC and security systems easily. They requested a screen where they can view the temperature inside and outside, adjust the thermostat on a touch pad and view live video of both the front and back of their house.” Are we talking kitchens here or prison guard towers? And trust me when I say that I’m no gadget guy, but my house does have one of those inside/outside temperature things that, well, tells me the temperature both inside and outside. They cost about US$15 at Radio Shack.

Wireless Internet Access.

“Consumers reported wanting to have a wireless network in their home so they can have wireless Internet access in all rooms, including the kitchen. Twenty-nine percent of all homeowners and 43 percent of those remodeling their homes want to surf the Web while in the kitchen.” Hello? Is there something about these wishes that requires intervention by the Internet Home Alliance? Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is 2007, and I’m pretty sure you can have Internet access in the crapper if you’re so inclined.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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