what it does
Ambient Hob is a variable kitchen platform. An inductive surface intelligently recognizes cookware which is rotated to adjust the cooking temperature and thus eliminates knob- or touch interfaces. Completely new kitchen configurations are possible. The kitchen itself could be redefined as a new room not only for cooking and preparing meals but also for working, living or just coming together.
Too many cooks spoil the broth? We believe that cooking should be a social and sensuous activity most kitchens however are equipped with boxy and localized cooking appliances designed to be used by a single person. The team’s goal was thus to reinvent the humble hob at the center of the kitchen.We wanted to improve both, the usability and versatility of the everyday stove, allowing for a rich multi sensory experience and catering towards universal social and cultural needs.
how it works
The basis of our technology is an array of induction coils implemented in the kitchen worktops, thus transforming virtually every surface, be it wood, stone or glass, into a cooking area. An intelligent system of sensors locates the cookware on the surface and activates the corresponding induction coils. The cooking temperature is regulated by rotating the cookware itself. An ambient display projected by a ring of light underneath the circular handle corresponds to the adjusted temperature setting.
In addition to the visual feedback a tactile response is given when the temperature is changed. This is achieved by a short peak in rotational resistance delivered by the inductive magnets. The combination of visual and haptic feedback ensures intuitive and precise usage. Additionally, when the surface is not used for cooking, the underlying technology can be used to inductively charge electrical devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
stages of development
Firstly, we started investigating different needs in and around the kitchen. After a survey of 143 persons and interviewing several kitchen professionals (chefs, interior architects,) we discovered that most people where only rarely cooking at home and if so, they were doing it alone. During the research of different kitchen configurations we realized that most kitchen layouts were only optimized for one cook at a time. This became especially evident when analyzing stove interfaces, since these are typically unidirectional, meaning only usable when standing directly in front.
We promptly began building cardboard prototypes in order to test and evaluate different interaction-paradigms that would admit more inclusive behavior. We then produced several foam models to determine ergonomic and structural necessities. Simultaneously, we developed the required sensor and actuator technology composed of micro controllers, accelerometers, gyroscopes, LEDs and haptic actuators. Finally, after an informal user testing, we determined the visual and haptic feedback and started manufacturing two final functioning prototypes in two different sizes.
Current cooktops are typically bounded by generic rectangles leaving little room for spacial freedom and prohibit multidirectional access through unidirectional interfaces. Our platform enables virtually every kitchen configuration, limitless in size and layout. We are proud to have developed a new kitchen concept with the power to transform entire homes toward more openness and inclusion by combining innovative technology and a truly simple yet familiar interaction paradigm.
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