Amazon's Project Kabinet: Some Thoughts On What This Thing Will Be
Like many, I read about a rumored "kitchen computer" from Amazon for the first time in a Wall Street Journal piece published yesterday. The details are sparse, with only one long sentence describing the project in the piece:
"Still in the works is a high-end computer for the kitchen—code-named Kabinet—designed to serve as a hub for an Internet-connected home and capable of taking voice commands for tasks like ordering merchandise from Amazon.com."
While I'm not surprised Amazon has something cooking for the smart kitchen, what is surprising is it's something beyond their effort with Echo, Alexa, Dash and Fresh. But the more I thought about it, it made sense that they'd want to create a new "dish" where all of these various ingredients play an important part.
Ok, enough forced kitchen metaphors. What is this thing all about? I had some thoughts I wrote about in a piece for Forbes. Here's the main thrust of the piece:
If you take all the pieces of Amazon’s strategy to enter our kitchen - Dash, Alexa/Echo, and Amazon Fresh (the company’s home grocery delivery service) – they are interesting but disjointed pieces of the same puzzle, one in which Amazon is trying to figure out how bring all the things we do in a kitchen into Amazon’s orbit. Whether it’s discovery of food or recipes, restocking our shelves or cooking itself, Amazon knows technology will have a bigger part to play in all of these in the future. Kabinet will likely attempt to unify all of these activities together and manage them using one device, by not only incorporating technology from all of these efforts, but also integrating with a variety of third party appliances to manage all of these activities for them.
In short, Kabinet will likely be Amazon’s physical manifestation of a kitchen operating system.
I also give an example of this smart kitchen command center concept in action around meal planning:
How would this work in practice? I can imagine the Kabinet doing meal planning through the unification of various Amazon piece parts would go something like this: the Kabinet takes inventory of what’s in the house through communicating with a refrigerator with embedded Dash technology and knowledge of what Amazon delivered last week through Amazon Fresh, (and factoring in average consumption behavior), it proactively orders food based on past behavior (Taco Tuesdays means ground beef delivered on Monday). Kabinet also knows you scheduled to have company on Friday, so it suggests a new recipe, orders the food, and also initiates delivery for the makings for cocktails with its new alcohol delivery service.
Now sure, all of this is speculation. The Kabinet could just be an Echo device or a Dash Button with a speaker and a screen. But I'm guessing it's more. I could see it having an actual screen (unlike the Echo) where recipes and cooking videos could be viewed. I also imagine dashboard views for food inventory as well as shopping lists. I think a unified view of all your food inventory, shopping history, as well as integration of a planning component around recipes and meals planned (or expected to be delivered) could be a really interesting thing.
Bottom line, Amazon isn't done with Echo, Dash and Fresh. They clearly see a huge opportunity here.
If you want to hear from not one but two Amazon execs about their connected kitchen strategies, come to the Smart Kitchen Summit. Tickets available here.