By Mike Pomranz
Updated June 28, 2018
Credit: © 2015, Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. Reprinted with permissions.

The microwave has a bad rap. It heats your food unevenly, makes it soggy and is generally thought of as the cooking tool for those who can’t cook. All of those issues stem from the fact that, since the first tabletop microwaves arrived in kitchens back in 1967, the technology that powers it has remained more or less frozen in time. Now that may change.

This week, Austin-based tech company Freescale showed off a concept for what they believe could be the future of the microwave – a machine that could heat faster and more selectively, targeting different foods or even different parts of different dishes on the same plate. That means that if you have meat and vegetables on the same plate you may actually be able to cook each the way it was meant to be cooked. To make this possible, Freescale wants to get rid of cavity magnetrons, the technology currently used in microwaves, and replace it with new radio frequency emitters derived from the same technology Freescale uses to power cellphone towers. The new RF emitters will be able to isolate the location and the power of bursts of energy

According to ZDNet, who reported on the new concept oven presented at the Freescale Technology Forum, “Through the use of multiple emitters and beam-forming in potential RF oven designs, the technology also enables simultaneous cooking of multi-component food dishes, or having multiple dishes being cooked in the oven at the same time with different proteins, starches and vegetables in them, which vastly simplifies food preparation.”

Freescale’s microwave concept also tips its hat to the usual slew of modern bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from new appliances. For instance, one idea is that Internet connectivity could allow microwaveable food brands to keep specific heating techniques in the cloud that customers could automatically access for cooking those specific products. The company also says their new design could utilize convection heating methods as well to finally allow a “microwave” to do things like browning and crisping.

Clearly a move away from the typical magnetron technology is the greatest innovation here. If and when Freescale brings their technology to market it might elevate the microwave to new levels of respectability.