Cooking technology enjoys very little drastic change compared to smartphones or computers, which is probably why the recently unveiled June smart oven received so much press. But Freescale Semiconductor has unveiled a concept technology that could revolutionize the microwave oven, and perhaps make its current form obsolete.
At the chipmaker's Technology Forum in Austin, the company announced the Sage RF cooking appliance concept. It's a complete re-imagining of what a microwave-style cooking appliance can be, complete with convection cooking and connectivity to your smartphone. The Sage can easily cook foods from a frozen state and even use a catalog of recipes to precisely cook dishes you prepare.
But the real innovation is in the way the Sage cooks food. You see, for decades, microwave ovens have relied on a device called a magnetron, which generates the microwaves that heat your food (or, more precisely, the water molecules within your food). Magnetrons are big and bulky, requiring a lot of space inside your microwave. And due to the way the microwaves are fired into the oven cavity, they provide very uneven cooking, which our testing has corroborated.
Freescale has solved both of these problems by replacing the magnetron with transistors. These transistors, essentially small microchips, emit microwaves that can be used to cook your food. They are much smaller than magnetrons, last up to 20 years without degrading, and use a lot less power.
According to Electronic Design, it takes multiple transistors to replace the power output of a traditional magnetron, but due to the smaller size and power requirements, it's not really an issue.
ZDNet adds that the Sage couples multiple transistors with Freescale's new technology for controlling the strength and direction of the microwaves, as well as measuring the level of doneness of food. If all of this technology works as claimed, it would equate to much more even cooking.
Combined with convection heating, the Sage can also brown and crisp foods like a traditional oven, opening up all sorts of cooking possibilities. In fact, Freescale claims you could even make baked goods with the Sage.
Of course, this is a concept, so we have no idea how true Freescale's claims are. Nor will we be able to test the Sage since it isn't being released to the public. Instead, Freescale is using the Sage to show off the capabilities of its new RF cooking technology to manufacturers, who can license the technology to use in their own products.
Given the enticing possibilities that Sage is promising, it's only a matter of time before we see new microwave ovens using this technology. And when they finally do come out, we'll be sure to test them thoroughly.