RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Okay, so you're 100 miles into the family car trip when you have that moment of panic. Did you forget to turn off the oven? Well, unless you want to turn around and go back, there's not a whole lot you can do about it. However, that could change. Soon you may be able to call your stove from the road. WEEKEND EDITION food commentator Bonny Wolf looks into the future.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BONNY WOLF, BYLINE: Kitchens are getting smarter. Some refrigerators can let you know when the door's open or if the milk is passed it's sell-by date. They make ice at night during less expensive, off-peak energy hours. There are dishwashers that can contact a repairman. It probably won't be long before you can become Facebook friends with your microwave.

The first microwave oven, the Radar Range, weighed 750 pounds and was bought by a Cleveland restaurant in 1947 for $3,000. Later home models had a pullout box for recipe cards, paper recipe cards. So quaint. Today, there are refrigerators with touch screens on the door that keep track of the food inside and suggest recipes to match.

Imagine what you could do with pomegranate, yogurt, wilted Tuscan kale and half a can of chickpeas. Right now it's all about the smartphone. Warwick Stirling, Whirlpool's senior director of sustainability and connectivity, says consumers want to use their mobile phones to take back control of their hectic lives. Manufacturers are listening.

Ultimately your phone will be a remote control for everything in your life that runs on electricity. You will be able to use it from other rooms of the house or from other parts of the country. Someday, all your appliances will talk to each other, and the utility mother ship, through the smart grid. Then your dishwasher will know not to run because the electric car is charging.

You can go to the movies. It's not happening fast. Whirlpool has just introduced a suite of smart appliances, but they're only available in Chicago. Stirling says to expect dramatic change in the next five years. The Association of Appliance Manufacturers says all appliance makers are poised and ready to jump into the fray. Now, if only the dishwasher could load and empty itself.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Bonny Wolf is managing editor of americanfoodgroups.com. She's also the editor of NPR's Kitchen Window.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) There's a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day. There's a great big beautiful tomorrow and tomorrow's just a dream away. Man has a dream, that's the start, he follows his dreams with mind and heart...

MARTIN: This is NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.