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March 2, 2017

Star Trek–level technology is coming to a kitchen near you

Ever watched an episode of Star Trek: Next Generation and thought, “Gee, I’d love to just turn to my appliance and say, ‘Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.’ to have a steaming cup magically appear”?

Well, with the latest in voice-activated kitchen appliances showcased at the 2017 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, now you can.

“Alexa looms large in appliances,” according to a report from Stacy DeBroff, a trends blogger and corporate consultant who attended the industry show. DeBroff was especially taken with the GE Profile Suite, which works in conjunction with the Amazon Echo and has its own version of Amazon’s Alexa, named Geneva. You can ask Geneva to turn on the oven and set it to a certain temperature. Or, with the in-door Keurig in some refrigerator models, you can also ask Geneva to make you that cup of tea or coffee.

Another big trend in refrigeration is see-through doors. Frigidaire, Kenmore and LG all offered glass-door refrigerator options, with LG’s Instaview Door-in-Door Refrigerator providing an “InstaView” feature that illuminates the interior with two quick knocks on the door.

Another technology trend of note in the kitchen, according to DeBroff, is the continued rise in popularity of induction cooktops, with more and more high-end brands “offering this technology for home chefs looking for ways to elevate their cooking.” But knowing that some people will never want to give up old favorites entirely, certain brands (like La Cornue) created cooktops with both induction and gas.

Self-cleaning appliances were big in both kitchens and bathrooms at the show. A product called an “InSinkErator” eliminates nasty garbage disposal smells by automatically sending up orange, lemon and lime scents to clear away bad odors. Even more exciting, American Standard’s ActiClean Self-Cleaning Toilet does just as its name would indicate, with options for a one-minute Quick Clean or a ten-minute Deep Clean.

But while people are embracing time-saving technology in many areas of the home, there are some places where natural materials and an implied slower pace of life prevail. Take the freestanding soaker tub, which was hugely popular at the show and shown in luxurious materials ranging from copper to bamboo, according to DeBroff. “Today’s bathrooms have taken a definite spa-like turn—featuring user-friendly luxury punctuated by freestanding tubs so striking they can double as sculptural art pieces,” she wrote.

Nature and technology work side-by-side back in the kitchen with Urban Grower showing a $2,500 dishwasher-sized Microgreen Grower. “It grows herbs, greens, and microgreens in an indoor appliance that automatically handles watering, air circulation, lighting, and humidity,” according to DeBroff.

For about the price of two growers, high-end kitchen designers can get Dacor’s Discovery Wine Station. The four-bottle wine preservation and dispensing station utilizes Argon gas to keep open bottles fresh and at the ready for up to two months at a time. It can also be locked to keep the system off-limits from inquisitive kids.

“From appliances that handle clean-up to solutions for kids to luxurious showers to glorious colors and textures, the 2017 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show showcased endless enhancements and innovations in virtually every corner of our homes,” DeBroff wrote.

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