Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of most homes. In addition to preparing and eating meals there, families often use the space to work, play, talk, and relax. Make your kitchen more efficient and fun with some technological upgrades.

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Turn your kitchen into the state-of-the-art hub of your home. Manufacturers of appliances, lighting, and more are updating their designs to make them more efficient, effective, and user-friendly. Although nearly every surface in a kitchen is getting more tech-savvy, it's the appliances that are seeing the most dramatic changes.

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When it comes to ovens, manufacturers are focusing on speeding up cooking times without affecting quality or energy drain. Many now use Wi-Fi connections to offer cooking tips, store recipes, and sometimes even automatically preheat and set timers for suggested recipes. There are also models that have coordinating smartphone or tablet apps for remotely checking the temperature or timer.

Refrigerators are also undergoing dramatic changes. Built-in TV screens are old news; newer refrigerators also incorporate DVD players and Wi-Fi connections to look up recipes, display photos, or function as a timer. Detachable screens make recipes portable while cooking. Inside the appliance, there are models with independent temperature controls for various compartments to allow for maximum customization. Door-in-door compartments provide quick access to condiments, and hot-water dispensers make quick work brewing tea or making hot cocoa. Soon enough, you will be able to remotely check your fridge's contents via mobile app.

Dishwashers continue to get quieter and feature customizable designs, like adjustable racks and third-level racks. There are soil sensors that can automatically adjust water use and cycle length based on what's being washed; half-load settings to reduce water waste; and even models that self-diagnose service problems and use Wi-Fi to schedule repairs.

Hiding dishwashers and microwaves is getting easier thanks to new designs that look like drawers or have panels that blend seamlessly into the surrounding cabinetry.

There are also technology improvements focused on our health. Faucets with integrated filtration systems keep fresh filtered water on tap. Motion-activated faucets conserve water, only running when they are in use, and also improve hygiene by keeping dirty hands from touching them.

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