Robots and delivery services take over a kitchen-free future, reports says

Maybe the recent death of Anthony Bourdain warrants a look at how and where we eat, but the future of home-cooked meals isn’t looking good at the moment. A report from investment firm UBS titled “Is the Kitchen Dead?” suggests to investors that a new future approaches, one in which kitchens have been abandoned for takeout food made by robots and delivered by drones.

It’s all a bit hard to take seriously but the report suggests that the majority of meals now cooked at home — no more bone marrow on toast, chicken pot pies, or Sunday roasts — could be replaced with takeout meals from vendors like McDonald’s and Taco Bell. The report highlights the growth of delivery platforms like Grubhub, Just Eat and Delivery Hero as potential winners in the future meal wars, as well as logical delivery platforms like Amazon.com and its association with Whole Foods and other brands.

“The total cost of production of a professionally cooked and delivered meal could approach the cost of home-cooked food, or beat it when time is factored in,” the report says. “In a world of increasingly time-starved and asset-light millennial consumers, we think growth in online food delivery is part of a megatrend which shouldn’t be ignored.”

Specifically, the report envisions a scenario that by 2030, most meals cooked at home are instead ordered online and delivered from either restaurants or central kitchens. In this version of the future, UBS sees robots working in “dark kitchens,” where different types of takeaway meals are prepared in group kitchens. The report estimates that online food deliver might control up to 10 percent of the total food services market, a subset that would translate to more than $350 billion.

So who loses in this world bereft of pestles, garlic presses, and other foodie accouterments? Plenty of businesses including hundreds of thousands of food retailers and producers as well as property markets, home appliances, and other manufacturers. The report also calls out franchises like Sonic Drive-In — how can you drive-in if you never leave your house, after all? — as well as companies like General Mills and Kraft Heinz that are heavily dependent on selling their ready-made or home-prepared foods like Kraft’s mac and cheese.

“Those retailers that can redirect, or at least diversify, sales to new avenues of growth such as online grocery, ready-to-eat meals, quick service restaurants, etc., should see a benefit,” according to the UBS report.

The report focuses on food-delivery startups like London’s Deliveroo and the ubiquitous Uber Eats but notes that meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh might also fill in any gaps in service.

UBS offered a comparison to future meals with the evolution of the clothing industry.

“Describing today’s world to a person whose clothes were all made at home would presumably draw a great deal of skepticism, and the full shift from home clothes production to today’s world took a long time,” UBS reports. “But some of the same characteristics are at play here: We could be at the first stage of industrializing meal production and delivery.”

Emerging Tech

Google’s radar-sensing tech could make any object smart

Computer scientists have shown how Google’s Soli sensor can be used to make dumb objects smart. Here's why radar-powered computing could finally make the dream of smart homes a reality.
Smart Home

With focus on interoperability, is Nevo Butler a smarter home hub?

Universal Electronics is the latest company getting into the smart home market, announcing at CES 2019 that it intends to market the Nevo Butler, a new smart home hub with onboard A.I. and voice control technology.
Smart Home

The best sous vide machines cook your food perfectly, every single time

Want to make four-star meals from the comforts of your own kitchen? Here are the best sous vide machines available right now, whether you prefer simple immersion circulators or something more complex.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Smart Home

Busted: Facebook Portal gets 5-star reviews from company employees

It's fair to say that Facebook's Portal smart display received a tepid response at launch, so it was something of a surprise to see lots of glowing reviews of the device on Amazon. Turns out some were written by Facebook workers.
Smart Home

Idaho mother says her child’s light-up sippy cup exploded

After a mother filled a Nuby insulated light-up cup with milk, the cup allegedly exploded. The incident caused burns to the mother's hand and face and a stinging sensation in her lungs that required a trip to the hospital.
Smart Home

The Instant Pot Lux is a gateway drug into the pleasures of pressure cooking

The 3-quart Instant Pot Lux is one of the most affordable Instant Pots you can buy. Is it still a solid pressure cooker? Here are our thoughts on the Instant Pot Lux, a great IP baseline model.
Smart Home

Project Alias is a ‘smart parasite’ that stops smart speakers from listening

Two designers chose to do something about nosy smart speakers. The result is Project Alias, a "smart parasite" that whispers nonsense to Google Home and Alexa until it hears a specific wake word.
Smart Home

DS3 Clean water-free swatches could be the future of cleaning products

DS3 Clean swatches were on display at CES 2019. The small swatches come in several types, including shampoo and toilet cleaner. They're great for travel, but their real impact is in how such supplies will be shipped and stored.
Smart Home

Amazon patents a technology to help Alexa fight fake voice attacks

Amazon filed a patent this month for a new technology that looks like it would help its digital assistant Alexa fight fake voice attacks that could potentially fool Alexa's biometric security protocols.
Smart Home

Amazon Prime members number more than 100 million in the U.S., survey says

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were 101 million U.S. Amazon Prime members as of December 31, 2018. Last April, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote there were more than 100 global million Prime members.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

The best air fryers deliver fried food with a fraction of the calories

What is this magical mechanism? It's an air fryer, and when used correctly, it can mimic the effects of frying while using just a little bit of oil. You still get that crispy, golden exterior and the fluffy center.
Emerging Tech

‘Tech vest’ prevents Amazon workers from colliding with robot coworkers

Amazon workers at its fulfillment centers are using "tech vests" to help protect them from collisions with their robot co-workers. The robots already have obstacle avoidance sensors, but the belt offers another layer of safety.