With an ultrasmart surface that senses where you place your pots and pans, the Thermador Freedom Induction Cooktop offers 36 uninterrupted inches of just what its name promises: cooking freedom.
1 USER INTERFACE
A 6.5-inch touch screen shows a mini map of the cooktop, highlighting each piece of cookware's size, shape, and position. Users tap icons to individually control time, power, and temperature; when the cookware is moved, the real-time display automatically updates to show the new location.
The size of the cooktop's inductors, which supply heat, is critical: Too big, and they heat unevenly; too small, and the device requires so many that it would be unaffordable. Designers found the sweet spot at 3 inches in diameter, which create a cooking space with 63% more usable surface area than competitors'.
Since the inductors call upon fluctuating amounts of energy, Thermador built a snubber circuit, which controls surges and lets the appliance handle a range of loads. To detect cookware, faint signals are sent to inductors to create several virtual photos per second. ($5,500, thermador.com)
A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.