Tables as Intelligent Assistants of the Future?

IKEA has released a website showcasing a vision of the kitchen of 2025. IKEA collaborated with IDEO and design students from Swedish universities to come up with the imaginative concepts. Central to their ultrasleek and eco-conscious culinary environment of the future is a smart table. Though the table doesn’t talk in the video, it uses language to communicate with the family it serves.

Kitchen Table 2025The smart table can sense the objects on it and communicate by projecting words onto its surface. For example, if the chef of the family sets down two different foods, the table acts as intelligent assistant by recommending various flavor combinations or recipes. It can even include suggestions based on other ingredients it knows are available in the household.

The chef can also place ingredients on the table’s smart cutting board to receive visual advice cues on how to prepare them. Not sure how to slice a mango? No problem. Just put the mango on the cutting board and the intelligent table will project graphics and instructions that step you through the process.

The table will even guide you through the preparation of an entire meal from start to finish, using a combination of projected graphics and helpful textual hints.

The smart table in the video isn’t speech-enabled. In watching the video that explains the development process for the Kitchen 2025 concepts, it’s never mentioned whether the choice to leave the intelligent table silent was deliberated or not.

It brings up an interesting question. As intelligent objects evolve, will people be more drawn to chatty assistants or to those that get their message across without speech? Only time will tell. And will we pay extra for a table that instructs us on how to slice a mango, or will we just pull up a You Tube video? It’s probably going to be a combination of compelling features that draws us into the world of intelligently assistive objects. Once we’re there, it’ll be hard to go back.

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