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By Bradley Wong, Senior Product Designer

Every year the International Home and Housewares Show comes to Chicago and promises a mix of art, engineering, technology and style. This year, myself and other members from the Chicago team took a trip down to see the latest in home innovation and industry trends. We were fascinated by the ‘Pancake Bot’, the world’s first food printer, which printed pancakes of the 2016 presidential candidates by automatically dispensing batter directly onto a griddle!

Here are some of the key themes we saw from the show:

1. Internet of Things

The Internet of Things has been one of the most talked about trends for years now, but it was great to see more and more household names creating ‘smart’ products. Brands such as Nespresso, Panasonic, and Oxo are integrating new technologies into their products to support our fully connected lives. Nespresso’s smart and connected coffee machine ‘Prodigio’ remotely starts brewing, assuming you have everything in place, as well as scheduling brewing time for your coffee – almost like an alarm clock for caffeine! Currently these products connect to your smart phone but with the way technology is progressing, we hope to see a day when products speak and communicate with each other. The future won’t be applications limited to your smartphone, but a world where everything works in harmony around you.

2. Experiencing the Brand

There were an overwhelming number of vendors on display at the show, but those that cut through the noise were the one’s able to best express their brand. Le Creuset used color and brand iconography, Keurig invited people to their booth with constant coffee brewing and Kitchenaid sponsored the Cooking Theater, where celebrity chefs used a kitchen full of Kitchenaid products to demonstrate their talents.

3. Sustainability and Responsibility

Sustainability is still a prominent topic yet how companies address sustainability differs. It’s a trend that has been around for a few years, so we have certain expectations on how companies deliver. Ecolife International demonstrated the use of environmentally friendly materials such as rice husks and bamboo. Stasher provided an alternative to plastic disposable bags with a silicone solution that is safe for freezing, microwave and dishwashing – a possible game changer for food storage. Joseph & Joseph encouraged responsible practices by creating a waste disposal unit which encourages you to consume less while integrating food compost.

 

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