A portable USB-charged induction cooking…thing.

This product is so full of flawesome, I…I…can’t even begin to…I don’t know how…here. Just read this:

So, that explains it, right? Right?? Oh, you need more info on how it works? Then read this:

Did you catch that?

Magneic fields is sets up between 1st Module generates electric and 2nd Module gets a electric. This is the way to recharge electrictiy.

Wait…what?? Let me try to make sense of this whole thing. Designer Kim Yo Hwan has created Two Any One, an induction cooker that can be used two ways: while attached to a base unit in the home, or to an offsite location because the burner/cooktop can be detached from the main unit. This is different from other flawesome concepts in that what you see in these pictures are not computer renderings. The designer actually made a full scale physical model of this product.

For this alone, the designer deserves props. Realistic physical models are extremely time consuming to produce, which is why many designers go the route of 3D computer models + a really good photorealistic rendering package. Of course, I believe a designer who never makes anything physical, with their own hands, can’t really understand how physical products can be produced, and how they should feel in the hand.  But that’s another post for another time. Yes, this is an excellent model, from what I can see from the photos. Sadly, the model making is the only redeeming aspect of this concept.

Understanding the technology

The Two Any One uses an induction cooking surface. Again, this isn’t a physics blog [cue physics talk…], but induction cooktops use a changing electric current to create a magnetic field, that induces a changing electric current in a ferrous (containing iron, like steel) metal pan/pot. The basic components of an induction cooktop include a large coil of wire underneath a ceramic surface. The large coil carries the alternating electric current, which then creates an oscillating magnetic field. When you place the metal cookware on the ceramic surface, the magnetic field from the large current-carrying coil induces currents in the bottom of the cookware. While we think of metal as a great conductor for electricity, many metals aren’t that great at letting electricity pass through them. When electricity flows through these metals, it encounters a resistance, the end result being that the metal gets hot. It’s like if you put a paperclip across the contacts of a 9-volt battery [don’t do this…well, do it for a second, then you’ll realize what I’m talking about.] That paper clip gets really hot. Protip: don’t carry a 9-volt battery in a pocket full of coins. Trust me on this.

Below is a take apart of a typical induction cooktop that I found on this site [which has a really good explanation of induction cooktops].

You can clearly see the large induction coil which carries the current to create the magnetic field. You also see lots of other stuff there, mainly circuit boards to control current going into the coil, as well as a heat sink and cooling fan. The coil does not produce heat directly, like the heating coils of conventional electric burners do, but current going through wires [remember the paper clip on the 9-volt battery? Oh, again, don’t do that.] does create some heat, so a cooling fan is usually necessary.

Compare that take apart with this exploded view of the Two Any One.

As you can see, they look nothing alike. In fact, in this induction cooktop, there are no coils of wire to be found. There is something labeled  “140 mm Highlights Heater.” I have no idea what that is. An induction cooktop has no heater. Also there are magnets [labeled ‘magnetic’] found in this cooktop. There are no magnets in induction cooktops; a current-carrying coil of wire creates an oscillating magnetic field, which is different than a field produced by a permanent magnet. There is a “charge battery” in there, which does not seem like the best place for a battery, seeing as the whole cooktop will probably get hot from the residual heat of cooking. Oh, and of course, there’s a the USB port, because, you know, this thing can be charged using USB.

Designers need to understand before they design

The above exploded view diagram clearly shows that the designer has no idea how induction cooktops work. A rudimentary Google search will give all the information one needs in order to understand how the technology works. If you don’t know how a technology works, how can you include that technology into a product? I see it all the time in product concepts. And there will always be a designer who argues “Well, in the future, it will be possible…” And I always counter with “Well, in the future, we’ll all have robots that will do everything for us.” Those who use that excuse just prove their ignorance and/or laziness when it comes to research.

At the very least, base your product in reality

The cooktop is rechargeable, to allow you to take the cooktop away from the kitchen. Did you see the pic above, showing the guts of an actual induction cooktop? Did you see the circuit boards and transformers in that take apart? Induction cooktops use a lot of electricity; you need a fairly large current to create magnetic fields that induce currents in cookware. Now, did you see the exploded diagram pic of the Two Any One, with its insanely thin battery? Even using the “in the future…” argument, that battery energy capacity will be far greater than it is now, there is no way even a battery like that could ever power an induction burner.

The whole “powered by USB”-thing is a joke. USB specifications state a maximum of 500-900 mA of current at 5 volts. In the future, could the specifications be greater than that? Sure, why not? Will that be enough to charge a super-thin, high-capacity battery that will be used to power a portable induction cooktop? I don’t know what the future holds in terms of super-awesome battery capacity technology, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “hell no.” The fact is, the idea that this could be charged by USB is ridiculous, and it shows, again, that the designer does not even have a small grasp of the power requirements needed when running induction burners. A search on Amazon brings up this portable induction burner, which, for all intents and purposes, is similar to this product concept. This model proudly states that it can be used on 120 volt, 15 amp household current; most larger burners/cooktops have much higher power requirements. Even if an extremely thin, incredibly high-capacity battery—that could deliver 120 volts at 15 amps—existed, do you know how long it would take to charge that battery off USB? I get frustrated trying to charge my phone off USB because it takes so long.

Usability issues

I will say that the design is clever, in the way that the cooktop docks into the home unit, and how it can be easily removed and folded for transport.

My main concern regarding usability has to do with the controls for the cooktop. You can clearly see the interface here.

The power and temperature controls are all touch controls; the buttons are flush with the Ceran glass surface. The burners occupy a large footprint of the cooktop, with the controls on the periphery of the burner. Imagine having a pan on that burner, and you need to reduce the temperature. Depending on the size of your pan, your fingers will be really close to the hot exterior of the pan. Of course, I’m sure the reasoning for the placement of the controls is as follows: “There is no direct heat from an induction cooktop. The cooktop does not get hot, only the cookware gets hot.” For the most part, this is true. The cooktop surface does not get hot. However, heat radiates. Ever put a pan right off a burner onto your countertop? If you move the pan a bit, and touch the countertop right where the pan was sitting, is it hot? You bet it is. That’s why trivets exist. While the ceramic glass surface is not heated directly, it will definitely get hot if there’s a hot pan resting on it. I understand where the designer is coming from, though, as there are touch controls on induction burners on the market.

This Fagor unit found on Amazon also has touch controls. However, the controls are a good distance away from the burner area. From a usability standpoint, it’s my opinion that touch controls on a surface that may be exposed to/right next to sources of heat are a bad idea.

Proofread, people

I hate to bring it up, because I know that many designers are from other parts of the world, where English isn’t a native language. I understand that there may be misspellings or grammatical errors when creating a presentation in English. However, I will also argue that if you have chosen to create your presentation using English rather than your native language, then you should make absolutely sure that everything you say makes sense to those that speak and understand English. The words found on these images, used to explain how this product works, were confusing to the point that I was unsure of how the product worked.

Overall…

This isn’t a bad product. I mean,  I want to like it. I can even think of ways that it could be changed, so it actually could be produced. But as it is, this is just stupid. It could be better. It could be real. But the designer clearly needs to focus less on the model making, and spend more time researching what they want their product to do, and how products similar to what they have in mind are engineered.

via Yanko Design