Nowadays, the kitchen is no longer just a workspace but is developing more and more into the primary center of life for users and thus the center of the (smart) home. In our latest post we decided to take a look at the foodtech startups leading the new household revolution: the connected kitchen.
It may be hard to believe but way back when in June 2000, LG introduced the first internet-connected fridge to the world of foodtech. Their revolutionary ‘smart fridges’ were able to create grocery lists and link to smartphone apps and allowed users to remotely control the inside of the fridges temperature. Despite not gaining traction as commonplace household items, companies havent given up on further developing these “machines” and adding more innovative functionalities like food inventory tracking and integrated IoT and AI powered systems.
LG´s latest smart fridge demonstrates just how far they have come since 2000; their new offering which was launched this year includes Instaview transparent door features. Their electronic counterpart Samsung has also recently launched a new and improved version of their smart fridge, adding Whisk technology (a company that they acquired last year) which suggests recipes to users based on their fridges contents.
Some companies have even managed to use smart fridges for the better of the environment and consumers. Swedens Karma helps restaurants and supermarkets sell surplus food – meals that would have otherwise been thrown away at the end of the day – through their exclusive app. Their mission? To save consumers the time of having to go to the supermarket to buy reduced food, and allowing retailers to leave their unwanted products in a communal fridge to be picked up, all while helping to reduce food waste.
Now boasting more than 1M users and saving more than 2M meals form being wasted, the startup now plans to boost growth by expanding across Sweden and making its move on other countries including the UK and France.
Grow your own
Are in-home vertical farms the next big thing for connected kitchens? We think so! With disruptions in the food supply and panic shoppers sweeping the aisles it seems that the uncertainty brought on by covid makes growing your own fresh food at home a good idea. Although putting a vertical farm inside a consumers home still seems rather radical its becoming increasingly more mainstream, not only by covid but by a number of startups offering appliances specifically designed for the average kitchen.
Gardyn is one of those startups addressing these new consumer needs, offering a vertical farming system that requires minimal user input and can easily fit inside a smaller kitchen if necessary. The idea is to ensure that growing your own food is as easy as possible and thanks to their integrated AI system which both monitors and maintains the crops, users can now produce their own food without worrying about any “heavy lifting”. The startups system contains two parts as seen below: a compact vertical tower which grows up to 30 plants, and an app powered by an AI assistant (no..not Alexa..) “Kelby”.
For a long time we believed in order to eat fresh food we needed farming, transportation, packaging and refrigeration. Now? We can grow our very own produce without the waste, effort or climate change effects.
Kitchens that move
One of the biggest trends to sweep the foodtech sphere is personalization, as consumers increasingly seek products that are made specifically for them. So as consumers begin to look for technology designed specifically for their personal home space and our lives becoming more and more mobile and individual, its time to look at the startups offering solutions for these new living conditions.
German company KIMOCON (Kitchen Moveable Connected) develops smart home platforms which includes flexible, height-adjustable kitchen modules, controllable light or water elements and safety-relevant sensors. Their mission? To make smart homes easily accessible to end consumers. They want to avoid smart home features being used as “gimmicks” but as a useful extra facility in users homes.
The company is only at the beginning of development and have lots of ideas for the future of the smart home, wanting to educate people about how to lead an easier and more comfortable lifestyle as well as to offer functionalities that are more sustainable for the environment.
Drink tech is still everywhere
Next-gen beer makers, coffee brewers and tea machines seem to be everywhere at the moment!
Despite a year hit by the affects of covid, Netherlands Minibrew is one of the lucky startups who have managed to secure funding in order to continue their operations. The company started developing their home brew appliance last year across Europe and had big expansion plans with hopes to break into the US foodtech market. Unfortunately due to the pandemic a number of investors pulled out and they found themselves in suspension of payment.
Thankfully, with consumers stuck at home and looking for extra indoor hobbies to keep them busy, the startup managed to make a comeback and saw their users create three times more beer recipes compared to pre-covid times.
Minibrew certaintly was one of the lucky ones – their home brewing counterpart Picobrew faced similar problems in the US. The company went into bankruptcy last February and was taken over by the PB funding group who recently launched a website listing the startups patents and product intellectual property for sale.
Overall, the home brewing space remains a troubled one, with startups struggling to raise enough cash to get operations started. However, with new startups like BEERMKR and INTHEKEG launching products into the market and stuck-at-home consumers looking for things to fill their time during lockdowns, it could be the time for automated drink tech to finally take off.
Another area that seems to be everywhere at the moment is that of food robotics. Cooking robots? Seems like a futuristic concept doesnt it, but not anymore! What seemed crazy ten years ago is finally reaching commercialisation: the robotic space is maturing and welcoming innovative startups onto the scene like robot beverage makers CafeX and Briggo (which was acquired by Costa Coffee).
With an acceleration of interest in social distancing and contactless features, robotics companies offer the post-covid foodtech space everything it needs to move forward. For example, Blendids smoothie robot has recently added a new feature, holding your smoothie until you are ready to pick it up. Blendids robot can make nine drinks at the same time and up to 45 in an hour. The ingredients are kept safely behind a glass and sealed from people, reducing the chances of viral transmission between consumers.
Blendid is far ahead of its other robot smoothie counterparts when it comes to contactless functions. Machine makers like Chowbotics, which developed Sally; the first fresh food robot innovation for foodservice players, still relys on touchscreens which is problematic given the current situation. How do you think they will move forward?
Bobacino is the new kid on the block, the new boba tea drink maker still in its prototype development stage, but already making waves in the foodtech industry. The new robot startup uses an articulating arm to create their tea concoction using a mixture of milk, syrup and tapioca balls over ice.
Bobacino is now looking to secure $3M from investors starting January 2021 in order to further develop the machine and add more recipes.