The manufacturer has created a smart-home hub designed to act as the control center of your kitchen, the company announced on Monday at the CES tech show here in Las Vegas. The Kitchen Hub will cost $600 and should be available in the US in fall 2018, said Shawn Stover, vice president of smart-home solutions at GE Appliances.
The main goal of the hub is to act as the control center of your kitchen. It contains a 27-inch touchscreen that runs on an Android-based operating system called Haier U+ Smart Life Platform (), so you can search for recipes, access your calendar, and receive system updates automatically. The hub also contains two cameras: A forward-facing camera that lets you video chat using Google Duo and a cooktop-facing camera so you can capture and post pictures of your meals in progress.
You can watch movies and listen to music while you cook, and you'll be able to play videos that walk you through a recipe in real time.
You have to go all-in and outfit your home with GE's appliances so you can get take full advantage of the hub by sticking with an in-house operating system (similar to Samsung's strategy with its Tizen OS on its Family Hub Refrigerator). The hub will connect to other GE connected appliances in and out of the kitchen, including ranges, wall ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers. In theory, that means you could reach up to the hub while you cook on the stovetop and schedule a load of laundry.
GE Appliances plans to expand the number of platforms and products its hub will work with, such as smart security cameras, Stover said.
GE Appliances is asking you to take a substantial leap of faith if you decide to buy this hub. It isn't a microwave, but it will take up the space that an over-the-range microwave or ventilation hood typically occupies. That means you'll have to make some significant kitchen design and functionality choices: Do you get a new microwave if you have an over-the-range model but want the hub? Fortunately, the hub has task lighting for your cooktop and built-in exhaust hood ventilation that's comparable to GE Appliances' over-the-range microwaves to prevent condensation and grease buildup on the hub, Stover said. And the company wants to eventually make a microwave version of the hub, Stover said.
I also question the feasibility of an over-the-range product that GE Appliances wants you to use as much as a tablet or phone. I'm 5 foot 3 inches tall, so I imagine I'd have reach up and crane my neck to operate it. And how well will a touchscreen hold up under constant exposure to steam, smoke and grease? At 27 inches, the hub will take up a substantial amount of space in your kitchen, so you should be able to rely on it to be a feature with some staying power.
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