This is the age of the food lover. Around the world, people not only feel compelled to eat better, they are discovering their love for cooking. It’s not just about putting food on the table anymore; there’s a genuine appreciation for culinary art. And as the popularity of this trend grows, people are also looking for the right tools that give them the perfect culinary experience. And at the heart of it are, of course, not just accessories like knives and bowls, but the cooking appliances themselves.
Re-thinking 40 years of heat
The evolution of culinary art has always focused on heat. Since the invention of the gas stove in the 19th century, ovens and gas ranges have been the center of modern day kitchens. In the late 1970s, the induction cooktop was first introduced as an alternative to the carbon-dioxide producing gas range. The induction cooktop addressed both environmental concerns and the health and safety of its users. Still, many chefs prefer gas to electric cooktops. Even though induction cooktops make cooking safer, they make it difficult to see how much heat is applied to food. It’s tricky to get a feel for how hot and for how long you need to cook ingredients without seeing the actual flame. So we wondered, how could we replace the visual cues of the open gas flame on electric induction cooktops? Could we create a convincing Virtual Flame™ that would help chefs to “just know” how much heat they had to apply to pots and pans?
Designing the real flame
Making the Virtual Flame™ a reality was a challenge. The material would have to withstand temperatures exceeding 120°C, which is tough for most materials. When designing the flame, it was important to make it look convincing. We found that on standard gas ranges, the flame flickers on average 64 times in 2.6656 seconds and changes its brightness nine times. Since the space underneath an induction cooktop is cramped, installing a virtual flame projector in that tiny space was a huge challenge. Still, our engineers really wanted to make this work, and thanks to their ingenuity they could design a projection system compact enough for a 430 x 250mm wide flex zone underneath the range.
It was a long road, but after some trial and error we created a convincing Virtual Flame™. Sure, it looks great, but the real accomplishment was making it possible for professional and ambitious at-home cooks to cook from the heart safely.