When I think about technology in the home I instantly think of the kitchen. The advances in technology in this most domestic of rooms have been revolutionary in so many ways. The recent BBC Two series Back in Time for Dinner gave a really good overview of these changes and what they have meant for family life as well as the food we eat. Starting after the war the kitchen has seen the introduction of refrigerators, freezers, electric ovens and microwaves, as well as all the labour saving devices that modern housewives and househusbands would struggle without. Washing machines, tumble driers, vacuum cleaners, electric kettles, blenders, mixers, coffee makers, electric irons – the list goes on and on.
The innovative home technology that I am most excited about though is one that has not yet been fully rolled out, but I’m already thrilled by the possibilities it holds, especially environmentally. Some newspapers have already mocked the as being a waste of time, but I think the complete opposite. Whilst the idea of having a fridge connected to the Internet may at first sound a bit daft it’s actually an incredibly clever idea in this joined up world that we all live in.
How many times do you stand in the supermarket and think “I wonder how much milk is left in the fridge?” Or maybe you wonder if the bacon that’s in there would last until the following night’s dinner. Possibly you’ve forgotten about the quiche that’s at the back of the fridge and you may continue to forget it’s there until you next clear out the fridge and it then goes in the bin.
Food waste is a huge huge problem here in the UK. I know I’m embarrassed about the amount of food I throw away each week and that’s when I’m trying to be careful. All the effort and resources that in to making that food – as well as all the packaging and everything involved in getting that food from source to your fridge – are completely wasted when it just goes straight in the bin. Not to mention the cost of that food in the first place.
Imagine then being able to stand in the supermarket and use your smart phone to see what is in your fridge and to know what the best before dates on it all are. Imagine being able to use your phone to instantly come up with recipes of what you could make with the food in your fridge (and freezer or cupboards) and even a shopping list of additional things that you need. A step further might be your online supermarket shopping app being able to do all this for you. A weekly shop arriving at your door with everything you need to make a week’s worth of family meals whilst also using things that you already have in. Link in other parts of your house and you may never run out of toothpaste or laundry liquid again.
In my mind the possibilities of this are endless. You could set up an alert so that just as you walk past your local corner shop on the way home from work your phone buzzes to tell you to pick up milk so you have enough for breakfast the next morning. The most exciting thing for me is what I believe this can do to reduce food waste and also make the whole supply chain more efficient. Only buying what you really need and using up things before they go out of date are such obvious things to do, but in our busy lives they just don’t always happen. I can vouch for that! No more emergency trips to the shops for the one thing you’ve forgotten. Also, if shops have an idea of how much people are likely to be buying in a particular week or month then they can plan accordingly. If it happens that all of us run out of orange juice in the same week then they can ensure that they have enough in the relevant local stores to meet the demand. It may all sound a bit Big Brother but, as long as the information is shared fairly and in an anonymised way if necessary, then I personally don’t have a problem with that as the benefits far out weigh it.
I’ve already seen for myself the usefulness of people being able to control their television digibox from their phones to set it to record programmes and the same is also possible with your heating too. Extending the ability to other things around the home is the natural next step as far as I’m concerned and a very exciting next step too!
Disclaimer: This post was written in association with Legal and General. All opinions and levels of geeky excitement are entirely my own!