A new study reveals home owners want their kitchen, not the home office or the game room, to be the digital nerve center of the home, as well as a social hub.

The finding was discovered after the Internet Home Alliance commissioned research and consulting firm Zanthus to determine how home owners wanted to customize their kitchens.

The pollster put a host of questions to 602 home owners responsible for making household purchasing decisions about kitchen appliances and consumer electronics and the answers surprised the alliance.

"While we expected to learn that the kitchen continues to serve as the hub of the home, we were surprised to find that bigger kitchens aren't necessarily a priority for most U.S. homeowners," said Tim Woods, vice president of the alliance.

"For example, we thought that a desk or workstation would be a popular addition but, in fact, most homeowners told us that a computer on a counter worked just as well. Eighty-two percent of our respondents told us that they had no interest in creating a separate space to do work assignments in the kitchen, though they did suggest that a more innovative kitchen design that freed up counter space would be useful," he said.

The alliance is a consortium of Continental Automated Buildings Association members (including Hewlett Packard, Intel, Microsoft and the National Association of Home Builders) who comprise a network of companies engaged in advancing the connected home space. It will release the full study during the 2007 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show & Conference (KBIS) in Las Vegas, May 7-10, where the alliance will display an "Ideal Digital Kitchen" model created based on the survey results.

Preliminary findings reveal the ideal digital kitchen includes:


  • A digital calendar. The primary kitchen user, typically is also the primary schedule keeper and preferred a digital calendar over 22 other concepts. The calendar should be on a large screen used to add appointments and post notes all household members can access in the kitchen or remotely via the Internet.


  • A recipe projection system. Lose those food-stained recipe cards and books. Eighty percent of those surveyed want some sort of wireless, voice-activated recipe projection system that would display recipes onto a kitchen surface.


  • An energy monitor and control. Home owners want to monitor energy consumption by room and appliance to chart peak energy usage times, to diagnose areas of wasted energy, and to calculate energy costs.


  • A home control station. Perhaps the appointment screen could also double as a monitor for the HVAC and security systems. Home owners requested a screen where they can view the temperature inside and outside of their home, adjust the thermostat on a touch pad and view live video of both the front and back of their house.


  • A universal charging station. What better place than the social kitchen to juice up cell phones, personal digital assistants, iPods and the like. One-third of households reported that they currently keep their cell phones on the kitchen counter and one-half said they keep their phone chargers there as well.


  • Wireless Internet access. Twenty-nine percent of all homeowners and 43 percent of those remodeling their homes want the Internet served up in the kitchen for Web surfing and email but not for offline applications.

    The survey also revealed what could be a changing trend in how the kitchen is used.


  • The kitchen is a control center, more than an entertainment center. The vast majority of home owners, 85 percent, said they don’t see themselves watching videos or movies in the kitchen.

    "That's likely because those are activities that need time and attention, two things in short supply when making dinner," the alliance reported.

    Likewise, video games have no place in the kitchen for 93 percent of those polled. Most say just stick to a television and wireless broadband.


  • Most parents, 59 percent, would rather kids not do home work in the kitchen. However, 48 percent said their kids do crack the books while the household chef is cracking eggs.

    Likewise, 69 percent would prefer their kids not do arts and crafts in the kitchen, while 43 percent allow their kids to get creative on paper in the kitchen.

    Written by Broderick Perkins

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