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Thermador's Smart Cooktop Nixes Burners So Home Cooks Can Use Up Every Inch

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.


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,

Illustration by leonello calvetti

A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.