Outside of good old fire, one of the oldest heating technologies in wide use today in the kitchen is that used by microwave ovens. That’s because microwave ovens use what is called microwave radiation, a form of dialectic heating that was discovered way back in the forties.
Radio transmission technology has come a long way since then, but for some reason the use of RF transmission technology in cooking has largely stayed stuck in time.
Will that change?
If NXP has any choice in the matter, yes. That’s because the company has been slowly but surely working to find product manufacturers to adopt their solid state RF cooking technology that is not only much faster than that used in the typical microwave, but also offers significant advantages in terms of precision heating.
I first head about NXP’s cooking technology (then Freescale) a few years ago, and thought it stood a shot at eventually displacing the technology used by microwaves.
With that in mind, I decided to check in with Dan Viza, the manager for the RF cooking business at NXP and see where things stood in late 2016. Based on my interview below, it looks like progress is slow but steady and we should start seeing cooking devices using this new form of cooking in 2017.
What companies have announced they are using NXP RF cooking technology and when will we see it on the market?
It is an exciting time for us to transform conventional methods of cooking using solid state RF. The number of customers that are working with our products and technology is extensive. They are in development mode and haven’t made any public announcements of their products. That said, there are a few that have made public statements regarding the use of NXP’s RF cooking technology. They include Goji Food Solutions, Wayv Technology, and most recently Midea. I expect at least one product to be available for purchase in 2017 although that is ultimately up to each OEM.
Can you characterize the types of products you are seeing?
OEM’s are exploring and developing a wide range of cooking appliances using solid state energy. These range from RF only appliances to combi-ovens, counter top and built in, consumer and commercial cooking, and even portable, battery operated. In most cases the energy from solid state devices is the primary heat or cooking source but it isn’t always the case as the solid state energy can also be used as a cooking assist function to a conventional thermal source like radiant, convection, or steam heat.
It seems as if you’ve had some traction in China and from new startups like Wayv, but can we expect to see any major small appliance brands launch a new cooking device with your RF cooking tech?
Yes, that is the plan, but as to who and when, that is for the OEM’s to disclose.
What are the biggest hurdles around educating the appliance and manufacturer community about your new technology?
Actually appliance OEM’s have experience in developing recipes for their appliances, and separately in developing algorithmic or software based solutions for controlling their appliances. The challenge can be in combining those two capabilities for the purpose of delivering a specific feature or benefit of the cooking appliance. One way we enable customers to accomplish this is by providing them with an engineered cooking module solution that comes with an API so they have less RF engineering to perform and more algorithm, software, recipe development and systems integration that best matches their existing capabilities. Of course it helps for customers to have RF power engineering capability but we are working to deliver solutions that minimize that as much as we can.
Is there a hesitance to try and create a new category – if this is indeed a new category? Or is this simply a respin of existing categories with new technology?
We have seen OEM’s take both approaches (new category and revision of existing). We have seen instances of some established cooking appliance OEM’s stay within their existing categories. With others that are new to cooking appliances, they seem to be more willing to push into the market with new categories. To be fair, we think there is value in both as we help OEM’s deliver value whether it is in the quality of cooking, in the adaptability of the recipe execution, the speed or convenience of cooking with RF, or sometimes a combination of all the above.
Are there appliance makers looking to add this to existing ovens or other categories as a new feature, or are most looking at creating a focused RF cooking device?
As I mentioned before, we have experience with OEM’s pursuing both approaches. I expect we will see a variety of implementations as OEM’s gather experience and fine tune their end products.
How would you characterize 2016 for your efforts and what do you expect for 2017?
2016 was another fantastic year of progress for us both technically and commercially. We had notable advances in our components and solutions capabilities as well as the engagement we have had with many OEM’s. I expect 2017 to build upon this year even more.