When it comes to cooking, most of the real innovation occurred back when we humans first discovered fire. But while an understanding of basic thermodynamics is still our guide for the best way to cook food, there's lots of room to improve on how we interact with our kitchen appliances.
At IFA Berlin earlier this fall, we had a chance to check out German appliance maker Grundig's Virtual User Experience—or VUX, for short. The VUX is the latest in a wave of appliance prototypes that ditch physical controls in favor of projected, motion-sensitive interfaces.
The VUX system combines a dishwasher, induction cooktop, and range hood. So far, so normal. But what sets it apart is a video projector mounted into the hood. The projector displays an interface on the counter and cooktop below, and responds to user input via motion sensors.
In our demo, the interface was highly responsive and capable of picking up the smallest of gestures. The system also proved fairly adaptive: If an item was placed over the interface, it automatically repositioned itself to an open area of the countertop. VUX can also connect to smartphones and baby monitors, so you can keep an eye on the kids or answer your phone while you cook.
While in many ways the VUX system seems like a solution in search of a problem, it definitely has its merits—particularly in terms of design. Getting rid of the physical knobs and dials makes cleaning considerably easier, and when the system is turned off, you're left with a clean, uncluttered countertop.
The VUX system is currently in the production prototype phase, with a tentative European release scheduled for late 2016. No price has been announced, but Grundig representatives assured us that it would be "expensive."