The kitchen of the future will be hyper-connected, sustainable and multi-functional

The kitchen of the future will be a connected, multi-functional space that is radically different to the separate room of old, according a report released by the Silestone Institute.

Entitled ‘Global Kitchen: the home kitchen in the era of globalisation’, the report draws on knowledge from 17 distinguished experts from the worlds of design, cooking, domestic technology, sociology, nutrition and sustainability, as well as surveying over 800 kitchen studios across the world, to provide a view of what the kitchen of the future is likely to look like.

“Global Kitchen is an international project providing valuable insights into the kitchen of the future and aims to become an essential reference tool for professionals and consumers,” explained Santiago Alfonso, marketing vice president for the Cosentino Group, which the Silestone Institute is part of. “It creates the opportunity for multidisciplinary reflection to analyse the effect of globalisation on kitchen architecture and design, to determine how this space will develop over the next 25 years.”

Among the items the report predicts will be in the kitchens of the future are hydroponic crops to provide food with the shortest possible distance from ‘farm’ to plate; 3D food printers that would allow users to download and ‘print’ recipes; adjustable-height worktops embedded with digital surfaces and smart fridges complete with the ever-predicted smart screens.

The kitchen of the future as envisioned in the report: click to view full-size

Perhaps one of the primary insights drawn from the report is the changing role that the kitchen will play in the home. Rather than being an independent space used almost solely for cooking, it is expected that the kitchen will develop into a multi-functional space in all countries.

The kitchen as an independent room is predicted to disappear and considerations of emotional value will begin to be incorporated into the design as it further develops as a space for relaxing. Of the 842 kitchen professionals surveyed, 87% said that the kitchen would become more relevant as an activity and meeting place in the house.

Enabling this shifting role will largely rely on the development of the kitchen as a ‘smart’ room; hyper-connected and technologically advanced. In order to cement its new position as the centre of the home, the kitchen will begin to take connectivity and smart appliances into account with “mobile and wearable devices, and will not only make shopping and laundry easier, but ensure endless access to information from the Internet of Things.”

Smart appliances are likely to also make their presence felt, with worktops able to cook, make calls, broadcast TV and provide access to the Internet. And in case you wanted to cut down on the amount of shelf space being taken up by cooking books, these smart worktops may contain databases of recipes where chefs can guide you through the process.

Hydroponic plants, smart fridges, 3D food printers and digital worktops are among the technologies predicted to be common in the kitchens of the future. Images courtesy of Consento Group

Appliances are also likely to become more environmentally friendly, coming to rely on sustainable energy. According to the report, they are likely to be solar powered and will “be aligned with ‘Multi- R’ thinking – Rethink, Redesign, Repair, Reuse, Remanufacture, Recover.”

And speaking of light, Silestone predicts that your kitchen will be illuminated by smart lighting that varies according to the time of day, mood or even (somehow) the type of food being cooked.

Largely, the report is perhaps not all that surprising in its findings. Kitchens, and the appliances within them, have been getting smarter for a while so the next stages raised in the report seem like logical steps. It is maybe more relevant to consider the changing role of the kitchen in the home, and what this could mean for homes more broadly.

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Stronger in old age: Stem cell research paves way for muscle-building medication

It could in the future be possible to take medication that will allow you to build muscle, even when you are in old age.

This is due to the findings of research at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, which found that large, and wholly unexpected, amounts of mutations in muscle stem cells blocks their ability to regenerate cells.

“What is most surprising is the high number of mutations. We have seen how a healthy 70-year-old has accumulated more than 1,000 mutations in each stem cell in the muscle, and that these mutations are not random but there are certain regions that are better protected,” said Maria Eriksson, professor at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition at Karolinska Institutet.

With this knowledge, researchers could develop therapies that would encourage such regeneration, and so allow older people to rebuild lost muscle.

“We can demonstrate that this protection diminishes the older you become, indicating an impairment in the cell’s capacity to repair their DNA. And this is something we should be able to influence with new drugs,” explained Eriksson.

The landmark research, which is published today in the journal Nature Communications, involved the use of single stem cells, which were cultivated to provide enough DNA for whole genome sequencing – a medical first for this part of the body.

“We achieved this in the skeletal muscle tissue, which is absolutely unique. We have also found that there is very little overlap of mutations, despite the cells being located close to each other, representing an extremely complex mutational burden,” said study first author Irene Franco, a postdoc in Eriksson’s research group.

While a significant step, the research is now being expanded to look at whether exercise affects the number of mutations – a potentially vital factor in understand why and how these mutations occur.

“We aim to discover whether it is possible to individually influence the burden of mutations. Our results may be beneficial for the development of exercise programmes, particularly those designed for an ageing population,” said Eriksson.

The research is one of a host of projects being conducted across the world that have potential impacts on ageing, an area that was long ignored by much of the scientific community, but is now garnering increased support.

If many – or even a fair minority – of these findings eventually become the basis of therapeutics, it could be transformative for old age in the future, allowing people to remain healthier for far later in life and potentially even leading to longer life expectancies.