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Ztove - an Intelligent Hob That, After CE-marking, Will Revolutionise the Art of Cooking

Troels Oliver Vilms Pedersen

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Ztove - an Intelligent Hob That, After CE-marking, Will Revolutionise the Art of Cooking

The inventor of this new technology, Peter Favrolt, got the idea for an intelligent stovetop when he was cooking pancakes for his son and became frustrated that the pan always seemed either too hot or too cold.

“So I thought: let’s put sensors into the things -- then we can cook with precision”, said Peter. As a civil engineer with 15 years robot experience he has a clear expectation that those who have a Weber BBQ in their garden will also buy an intelligent hob within the next 10 years.

CE-marking
But just like toys, machines and other electrical apparatus, kitchen equipment is also covered by environmental and user safety regulations. This means that Ztove needs to comply with EU Directives and various international and national standards before the product can get its CE-mark and be sold on European markets.

This intelligent stovetop has recently received its CE-mark. “When the product is improved, the CE-marking has to be redone and the background documentation updated. The whole process is hard at the beginning but is easier  when we know more about the product’s final form and the CE-marking process”, says Peter. Final responsibility for CE-marking lies with those who bring the product to market and therefore it is essential that all safety regulations are complied with so that user safety is central – and this has also been a focus area for Ztove.

Key indicators in CE-marking
Everyone who goes through the CE-marking process can agree that the process is a complicated jungle of Directives and international standards which can be hard to navigate. Consultants at DTI’s Advanced Robot Safety Lab have helped Ztove with the process of affixing the final CE mark on the Ztove system. This process has clarified which Directives and standards apply to the Ztove System as well as identifying how all essential safety requirements can be met. DTI has also helped by conducting the relevant tests and ensuring that the required documentation about the Ztove EZ2 is filed correctly.

As a result, Ztove has been able to affix the CE mark to their system and is thus ready to sell the product to e.g. star cooks and private gastronomes. Initially, their focus is on the Danish market, but with the CE mark Ztove can also be sold to customers across Europe.

"The Ztove experience has also helped DTI to strengthen our services to Danish as well as international suppliers of robot technologies," says Thomas Almdal of DTI and continues: "With experience from the CE marking process we've been through with Ztove, we now have a business model which will be attractive to national and international customers, as we are able to offer a range of tailor-made services specific to the customer's needs. Based on this process, we now have a very attractive product to offer to international customers that wish to establish themselves on the European market. "

Ztove’s product and its genesis - working together with innovative cook
Ztove received financial support from Energi Fyn’s development fund to produce a prototype that could be tested by experienced chefs. Peter enjoyed working together with famous chefs such as Thomas Pasfall from the restaurant Pasfall (and previously head chef and director of the temple to gastronomy, Fasled Kro) and Klavs Styrbæk, who owns Styrbæks.

All the star chefs also gave tailored comments about how to tweak Ztove to make it  more effective and better able to fulfil the wishes of food enthusiasts.

On the molecular level
As well as concerning themselves with membrane physics and the cosmos, a group of physicists from SDU bought a Ztove system to use in their Gastrolab, where they (through producing e.g. cheese or meat sauce) examine how taste develops over time. They also used their equipment and expertise to study how food’s textures are connected at a molecular level and how they change. “All that in order to get a better eating experience”, says Peter, and points out that cooking via an app and inbuilt technologies can certainly be combined in an authentic kitchen with fresh food without too many unnecessary artificial gadgets.

A whole new cuisine?
“It is precisely through our working together with professional cooks and other food enthusiasts that we can improve our technology. To begin with we thought that we would be preventing small kitchen misfortunes such as the food sticking, sauce separating, or pasta boiling over. But now we know that precise temperature control can ensure a better taste and better texture in the meals, and also create better conditions for master cooks to develop a whole new gastronomic style. What this will be, precisely, is difficult to foresee, but Peter has some ideas which he is looking forward to playing with. “It will be exciting to see what the kitchen of the future will offer in terms of new gastronomical experiences”, says Peter.

Right now, Peter is already working on a radio module for the next generation of the Ztove system -- which will also need to be CE-marked. “When the product is improved, the CE-marking has to be redone and the background documentation updated. The whole process is hard at the beginning but is easier the second time around, when we know more about the product’s final form and the CE-marking process”, says Peter.