Breville Polyscience Control Freak is a restaurant-grade induction burner that allows a chef to dial in either the surface temperature of a pot or the temperature of the liquid inside it. It lets you control the temperature of the pan on it, or the temperature of the liquid inside. Allows some sous vide-style methods to be done without a plastic bag. Inspires creative chefs to up their game and improve their cooking. It has more kitchen applications than you can shake a stick at.
Completed at: Deepend Sydney
Year: 2012-2013. Released 2016.
Role: Information Architect, User Experience Designer, User Interface Designer
Live link: www.breville.com
Heston Blumenthal is a chef known for his experimental recipes with a focus on the science behind cooking. He is also a bit of an appliance geek. As a brand ambassador, he is also heavily involved in the product development and design process of appliances that take place in Sydney.
Heston, Breville and Deepend began a journey to create the world’s first temperature and time controlled cook top, enabling everyone to cook like Heston. The brief was to take the existing cooktop prototype created by Breville, test and improve the UX and enhance the user interface to create a one bad-ass induction burner that would revolutionise the hospitality industry world wide.
The prototype user interface and controls were evaluated for three likely scenarios and took place over 3 days of testing.
1. Out of the box gadget enthusiast. Wants to test the concept straight away, too excited to read manuals.
2. First time taking it out to do some real cooking. Wants to try the unit out by making her favourite slow cooking stew.
3. The scientific cook. Wants to cook like Heston and make a recipe he’s never tried before.
The experience of completing these scenarios was evaluated against 17 key criteria, based on well-researched usability best practices. The purpose of this review was to provide illustrative examples of strengths and weaknesses of the user experience – to be considered for future revisions of the user interface and control mechanics. The main function tests were conducted using a a simple pot and boiling water. During this phase, we uncovered holes in the structure, dead ends, unintuitive hierarchy and problems with the UI and interactions.
After conducting the main user tests to determine the problematic areas of the appliance we moved into the ideation phase. Here we established, based off the user groups (listed above) we would have 3 modes for the appliance: Simple, smart and recipe.
The information architecture was established and the main user flows for each of these functions were established through much sketching, wire-framing and user-testing.
Simplified Buttons and introduction of ‘turn-and-confirm’ main control button.
Circular temperature / time gauge
Due to the limited vertical space to show a lot of detail about the way the temperature is being controlled, I designed a circular temperature and time gauge. The outer black gauge is the set temperature and the inner coloured gauge indicates the temperature of the pan and also the speed at which it is decreasing or increasing. The circular gauge mimics the motion the user creates when turning the main control to adjust the temperature.
Cooking using modes
The interface of the application was designed with 3 cooking modes: simple, smart and recipe. The simplest mode satisfies the most basic requirements you need from the induction cooker, i.e to heat the pan to a set temperature. The Smart Mode enables all the additional functionality required to follow more complex recipes such as precise temperature sauces and meats.
Recipe mode came out of our ideation session. We created a section where you can store recipes inside the device that follow the time and temperatures. It’s step-by-step guidance through tested recipes helps ensure successes like Heston Blumenthal’s famous caramel sauce.
Further to this, we discovered cooking could work like a graph with moving nodes and we could introduce a social side to this by allowing people to submit recipes of their own along a time vs temperature based line.
Appliance Application and Testing
Multiple rounds of testing were conducted over several months. Our UI, user flows and diagrams were sent back to Breville for reconfiguration on the device and then sent back to us for further testing and more discovery.
After 4 years of development, the product was finally launched in early 2016. Since then, the appliance has received amazing reviews from chefs around the world and it is used in the kitchens of the most renowned restaurants.
“I love what the geniuses at Breville and PolyScience have done with the utilitarian but not usually versatile induction burner. With their newest iteration, the Control Freak, they have created a unit which does what it says and much more! I am able to use the Control Freak in my kitchen and even better when I am on the road, to cook with incredible precision in a way that hasn’t been possible before. With the smart probe, I can oil poach fish, hold my soup at exact temperatures, and do this all in a catering hall with a strict rules concerning open flames. The Control Freak has become a staple in my prep kitchens, off premise events, and demonstrations. I love it.”
-Ivan Orkin (Ivan Ramen)
Awards and Recognition
The Control Freak was launched in 2016 and has since won the Food Service Equipment of the Year award within the Design-Led category. The Polyscience Control Freak Induction Hob shares the title with five other products which have been recognised as being ‘stand-out items of kitchen equipment unleashed upon the UK market this year (2016)’. Additionally it won a RED DOT AWARD in the kitchen category in 2016 and also the Good Design Award for Best Product Design (Commercial and Industrial).
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