Daniel Kats, head of sales at Infarm, surprised the audience with a bold vision. “Our aim is to make Berlin the first self-sustaining city in the world,” he said. To put this plan into action, Kats and his team are developing small fridge-like greenhouses (indoor farms) to grow vegetables and herbs and place them in old warehouses, office buildings or even supermarkets and restaurants. Infarm currently cultivates more than 700 heads of lettuce per day using 95% less water than a traditional farm, and no soil!
Tim Raue, one of Germany's most famous chefs, is convinced of Infarm’s concept. “Customers want products that are grown just around the corner," says Raue. "People today cook in state-of-the art kitchens, and they want to work with regional and seasonal products. If you cannot grow vegetables in your own garden, you can just go and harvest them in the supermarket.”
Or even better, have them delivered right to your doorstep. Jens Drubel, founder of AllyouneedFresh, an online supermarket, predicts, “Within the next 5 years, 20% of all groceries will be bought online and delivered to people's homes! Right now, people still have to click on items when ordering groceries online. Soon, this will all be manageable via voice control.” Jens Drubel also presented an intelligent garbage can with sensors, allowing you to simply scan an item before disposing of it and have the garbage can reorder it for you. AllyouneedFresh not only delivers groceries to your door, but also to your car.
What other entrants can we expect in the kitchen environment? And what are the core needs and benefits which appliances will have to satisfy in the future? We all know the internet of things and digitalization will change the industry. In our second panel, experts and creatives discussed in what way and to what extent. Mario Pieper (managing director of Home Connect and CDO of BSH Home Appliances), Rainer Münch (Oliver Wyman), Rebecca Werst (Reform), as well as artist and philosopher Dr. Koert van Mensvoort shared their views on the future kitchen.
The way we communicate in the kitchen is going to change. “In 2025, we will treat devices just the way we treat human beings, and talk to them,” predicted Rainer Münch, partner at the global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. “We will not only tell the stove to preheat the dinner and tell the fridge which items to order. In Sweden, they are already one step ahead,” he said. “A company offers to implant microchips under their employees’ skin that can be programmed to communicate with other networked devices, such as the coffee maker. It will then know if the person wants an espresso or cappuccino before they even get there.”
If that sounds like science fiction, it’s because we are living in a time when the pace of change is quick. Modern fridges, such as those from Bosch or Siemens presented by BSH Home Appliances, let you check the contents of your fridge from wherever you are, whenever you want, using internal cameras. BSH also premiered a scanner with innovative technology to determine the ripeness and nutritional information of fruits.
Nevertheless, “many people cherish the kitchen as one of the last analog spaces,” as Rebecca Werst pointed out. Werst was the first employee of Reform, a Copenhagen-based kitchen company. Their concept is to hack IKEA kitchens with designs from internationally acclaimed architects. Naturally, she values the combination of design and functionality: “If you want to integrate a kitchen into your life, you have to integrate both, functionality and design.”
Design is key in the smart kitchen, and social media and content are as well, as Stefan Heilmann, investment banker at IEG, told the audience. „Software, hardware and services will unite in one platform.“ Heilmann was one of the protagonists of our third panel on „The socialnet of things - interaction for joint experience“ among Anja Tanas (WDR), Hannah Rees (Elbkind) and Verena Hubertz (Kitchen Stories).
Hannah Rees, Senior Social Media Manager at communications agency Elbkind, shed light on costumer engagement strategies: „Interaction with customers on Social Media is a crucial tool for companies and business development.“ Rees provided insights on a crowd-sourcing campaign Elbkind created for Ritter Sport: fans were completely in charge of developing a new product.
Verena Hubertz is convinced that anyone can cook. To prove her theory, she founded the start-up Kitchen Stories together with Mengting Gao, offering a rich variety of tasty recipes, practical kitchen tips, and informative food articles. Kitchen Stories enables food lovers all over the world to connect. "Without spending a cent on marketing, our app has already been downloaded 15 million times," she said. The founders were supported by Apple and Google, who recommended the app to their users. Hubertz’s vision? "The fridge inspects all available ingredients and points directly to a suitable recipe at Kitchen Stories".
Anja Tanas, a nutritionist and journalist at WDR, has also dedicated herself to culinary content. “Politics and science are simply too slow to verify that new nutritional trends are healthy. This is why we have to step in, especially as it concerns all of us. Food is the new status symbol of our time!” People have always cared about food and cooking; and, they will continue to care and talk about it, just in other ways.
Increasing connectivity brings a multitude of opportunities for consumers and businesses, partly challenging established logics. At the end of the day, Rhizome17 offered a unique, interdisciplinary forum to explore recent trends and discuss new business concepts. The first connected kitchen conference not only connected the perspectives from different disciplines, it also served perfectly as networking opportunity for its participants.
Thanks for making Rhizome17 an incredible experience!
2017 was the first year of Rhizome - Connected Kitchen Conference. It was sponsored by Home Connect, the first solution in the world to allow home appliances from different brands to be controlled with a single app. The system is designed as an open platform that will keep evolving to cover a growing range of services and devices. For more information about Home Connect, go to: www.home-connect.com.