Q&A: Dave Baarman, co-chair, Wireless Power Consortium’s Kitchen Work Group

SKS 2019 is almost here, and we started discussing kitchen technology trends with our sponsors early, including Dave Baarman from the Wireless Power Consortium’s Kitchen Work Group. We asked for his perspective on challenges and trends in the space:

What are the unique challenges the Wireless Power Consortium’s Kitchen Work Group is tackling within the foodtech or smart kitchen space?

The Qi standard gave confidence to those who make both smartphones and wireless chargers that consumers would be able to take advantage of the benefits wireless charging provide. It also allowed companies across the ecosystem that might normally compete to cooperate and collaborate on advancing a technology, while still providing their own unique competitive differentiators to their customers. The Ki Cordless Kitchen standard allows for a similar opportunity to foster cooperation and collaboration across the industry. It also creates an opportunity add new intelligence features, including app control, to everything from toasters and crockpots to smart cookware. Precise time and temperature control can be added to cookware and appliances to make home cooking even easier. Through standardization of this technology, we are able to connect integration partners that enable the implementation of software and connectivity solutions for the smart kitchen, making it easier to integrate more of the kitchen into the smart home.

What is the Wireless Power Consortium’s Kitchen Work Group?

The Wireless Power Consortium is an open, collaborative standards development group of close to 600 member companies from around the globe. WPC’s Ki Cordless Kitchen standard enables cordless kitchen appliances to be simply and intuitively placed on the counter to safely receive wireless power from power sources hidden beneath any non-metal countertop. Appliances such as juicers, blenders, air fryers and more can all be powered this way, eliminating cord clutter. Intelligence can be easily added to the appliances, thanks to the two-way communication between appliances and the power source, making it easy to integrate the kitchen into your smart home.

Give us an important “Ah-ha!” moment where you realized tech was disrupting your industry.

Following the release of the Qi specification, discussions started within the WPC about higher power applications. When we built appliances with an intelligent base it was easy to see how that base can add intelligence to just about any appliance, pan or cookware. This opens so many opportunities for new innovation and connectivity. This is where the Cordless Kitchen standard was recognized as a truly valuable application of wireless power.

What is the Wireless Power Consortium’s Kitchen Work Group doing differently? What are you disrupting, innovating, or inventing?

The Wireless Power Consortium fosters open technical cooperation and collaboration aimed at deriving the best technical solutions to be included in the Ki Cordless Kitchen standard. Moreover, a designated certification program is put in place to provide confidence to consumers that the Ki logo represents safety and interoperability, just as the Qi logo does for mobile phones and wireless chargers. This will enable the consumer to shop for certified products of different brands and choose the products that are best for them, with the confidence that those products will work together flawlessly. A standardized method of providing power and control opens opportunities for connectivity to systems that previously have been closed to innovators, creating a whole new horizon of connectivity.

What’s Wireless Power Consortium’s Kitchen Work Group’s future vision for how foodtech will change the way we think about and interact with food?

The Ki Cordless Kitchen standard will change the way we interact with our kitchens. By enabling new intelligence features to be easily added to any appliance, the kitchen can become significantly more integrated into the smart home. This opens up new possibilities for intelligent cooking, increased integration of different appliances, and drastically improved convenience and flexibility in the kitchen.

What are some of the challenges Wireless Power Consortium’s Kitchen Work Group  and others within your industry are facing?

The challenge is not so much the technology - wireless power dates all the way back to Nicola Tesla, 100 years ago. The real challenge is to create an environment that allows competitors to unite behind a shared vision and work together to create a standard that enables a completely new category of cordless products and transmitters. This creates an ecosystem that will allow consumers to benefit from the technology, without the constraints of being locked into a single brand or product line. Just as it has with Qi, that level of both cooperation and competition in the market creates a lot of benefit for the consumers.

Is there anything else we should capture?

This type of industry connectivity opens up creativity and innovation in very new ways will impact the way we look at kitchens in the future.

Laura ShubelComment