Historical dramas are an incredibly popular television genre today. Whether it be Turn: Washington’s Spies, Outlander, or Frontier, all of these shows have a distinct ability to usher in particular images of the past, visions of what life was like back then. One such example is the kitchens of older times, hidden in the basements of castles, fortresses, and historically representative homes. If you think of a historical kitchen now, what comes to mind? Large hearths with roaring fires, on which sits a bit cast iron cauldron. Long wooden prep tables adorned with foraged vegetables, herbs, and exotic spices. Bread baking. Soup boiling. Game being prepped for cooking.


To the people who lived during these different historical periods, the technological advances of todays’ smart kitchens would be nothing short of magical. And yet, for us, smart home appliances and utilities are increasingly common, if not required. Today, we’ll be exploring the four most important pieces of kitchen technology needed to appropriately deck out your smart home.


The Smart Refrigerator


No, we aren’t talking about the occasion robotic fridge cast as a villain in old science fiction. Like most other appliances on this list, the smart refrigerator has a couple key features. First, look for an interactive, touch-screen display on the front. These will be often paired with in-unit cameras that give you a live look as to what’s currently occupying your fridge’s shelves. When you come back from the grocery store, simply label each item on the touch screen and your refrigerator will keep track of best before dates and remaining quantities or stock. Of course, the touch display will likely be able to do a whole host of other things. Samsung’s Family Hub, for example, connects over Wi-Fi and can order groceries to your home using any number of different apps. Its display can let you write messages, check the weather, play music, and pulls up recipes based on what’s inside its doors. Having an Internet connected refrigerator with a slick touch screen may not be as exciting as Panasonic’s movable unit that comes to you using voice commands, but it’s certainly a dramatic leap from ice boxes of old.


The Smart Robot Vacuum Cleaner


Okay, we had to include at least one true robot on this list. Robot vacuum cleaners have actually been around for a little while now, but with advances in software and hardware, they are now even more capable to cleaning up in the kitchen. Take the iRobot Roomba, which is a self-administering cleaning machine. Running up to 75 minutes, the vacuum uses a series of sensors to avoid stairs, walls, or other impediments. When it’s about to lose battery power, the Roomba will return to its charging station and pick up where it left off as soon as it has been reenergized. Being a smart home device means, of course, that it can be voice controlled and runs with a smartphone application that lets you customize where, how, and when the machine performs its cleaning. The highest end models work on all surfaces and with nearly every type of dirt or mess, making it perfect for the food bits and crumbs that seem to never stop pilling up in the kitchen. Roomba isn’t the only company selling robot vacuum cleaners so shop around and find the best model that fits your lifestyle!


The Smart Oven


Generally speaking, the smart oven phenomenon has been a little slower to take hold than vacuums and refrigerators. For those anxious consumers among us, however, you can readily pick up a counter-top oven with plenty of smart features. The leading brand for these is likely the June Oven. Its features are incredible: interior cameras identify your food and helpfully suggests cooking cycles; a Wi-Fi connection lets you control temperatures and cook time from your smartphone; and, built-in computer systems work to ensure cooking is done evenly and to the perfect time. Smart ovens, however, aren’t yet perfect and they’re still incredibly expensive – it’s probably why you can really only find them in miniature versions at the moment. That said, it bodes well that one day soon you’ll be able to put a turkey in the oven and let the latter appliance take over cooking. No muss, no fuss.


The Smart Dishwasher


The last appliance on our list of must-haves for the contemporary smart kitchen is an intelligent dishwasher. But how can a dishwasher be “smart,” you might ask? Well, taking a look at the Bosch-Home dishwasher with Home Connect, we see plenty of familiar features. A smart dishwasher will be connected to Wi-Fi, letting you control cycle start times from your smartphone, handy if you’ve already left the house for the day. Smart dishwashers will also monitor themselves, checking detergent levels, sending notifications when programs have finished, and identifying leaks if they arise. Others, like the GE Home Appliance family dishwasher will even go ahead and order new detergent from Amazon or other online retailers when it sees levels are getting low. In essence, your smart dishwasher removes plenty of the mundane kitchen tasks from your life so you don’t ever have to do them again.


The above represents a fraction of what is becoming a multi-billion dollar smart-home, Internet-of-things industry. It doesn’t include smart coffee makers and kettles, sous-vide cookers, fryers and plenty of other countertop appliances. In addition, we haven’t mentioned programmable lights or window shades, thermostats, and more! Whether we like it or not, the smart home is here. It’s time to get connected!


What smart kitchen appliances do you have at home? Tell us in the comments below.