Once or twice a week for the next month, we'll be sharing insights from one of our speakers about the opportunities and challenges the industry faces while also hearing a little about how they got started. Today's Q&A is with Nikhil Bhogal, the CTO of June, who will participate in a pane at the Smart Kitchen Summit entitled "The Self-Driving Oven: The Next Generation of Technology That Will Define The Kitchen". You can read more about Nikhil here.
KS: What is driving innovation and invention in the kitchen space now and what will our kitchens look like in 10 or 20 years from now?
Bhogal: The kitchen hasn’t seen much innovation in the past 50 years - after the first home use microwave in the late 60s and the dishwasher in the 70s, the space has failed to stay up with what’s going on around it. Not that there hasn’t been innovation in cooking - it’s certainly happening but tends to only be available to the chefs running restaurants, or from commercial appliances or high-end appliance makers.
IoT infrastructure, mobile hardware, sensors and advances in machine learning make it possible to bring June to market today, something that wasn’t possible even a few years ago. We’re starting to see a lot of new technologies and use-cases emerge, and think that this will only continue to progress in the next decade or so. At June, we’re excited about the convergence of this high user-experience and IoT technology and what it means for our consumers – quick, delicious and healthy food.
SKS: There’s an emerging standards and platforms conversation happening in the smart kitchen as more devices and services roll out; do you see this becoming a divisive issue in adoption down the road?
Bhogal: Today, there’s no cohesive platform that brings all these new emerging technologies together. It’s a hard problem and there’s some really smart people who are working to solve it through things like smart home automation or the Apple Home Kit, but a complete solution or platform is still years away. We believe that with thoughtful software and hardware architecture products can be compatible with a variety of ecosystems. We’re hyper focused on creating a great product that uses today’s technology to cook delicious food just the way you like it.
SKS: What’s the main problem June is trying to address in the kitchen?
Bhogal: It’s hard to cook a good meal, let alone eat healthy. No matter how many times you’ve done it, roasting a chicken can feel like a game of chicken (“Should I take it out now? How about now?”). Ovens are uncertain, and the difference between irresistibly good and barely edible is just a matter of minutes.
June is a new kind of oven that takes the chance out of cooking by making sure your meal comes out exactly how you want it, every time. June can actually see that your chicken is a chicken and recommend how best to cook it. Then there’s no need to hover, because June keeps tabs on your meal and makes adjustments on the fly, like getting the chicken to your desired temperature and switching to broil to get the skin crispy at the end. When June is done cooking, it sends a message to your phone that dinner’s ready, and you know before you even make the first cut that it’s exactly how you wanted.
SKS: There’s a lot of buzz around consumer adoption and skepticism in the smart home space - do you think the kitchen will suffer from the same issues?
Bhogal: Innovation without purpose is rarely a good thing. Smart homes aim to solve a different set of problems than those in the kitchen, such as environmental comfort, energy efficiency, security and convenience. The promise relies on a multitude of devices talking to one another, and so the skepticism stems from the fragmentation of vendors making these devices in addition to the high cost of putting together a full suite of products, and the incompatibility between major ecosystems.
I’m optimistic that the kitchen can overcome this by creating products that perform well, deliver enjoyable cooking experiences and offer compatibility with major ecosystems. This can be achieved with forward-looking engineering and thoughtful messaging.
The Smart Kitchen Summit is happening is in three weeks! If you want to hear Nikhil Bhogal and other leaders talk about the future of the kitchen, cooking and foodtech, get your ticket today!