Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Badly-designed-stovetop converter

For stovetops whose designers think that I like to read little diagrams while orchestrating a culinary masterpiece
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[This is inspired by thought in "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman.]

I'll bet you a dollar your stovetop sucks. If you paint the entire surface black so you can see no diagrams or letters, can you tell which knob corresponds to which burner?

I'll bet that you have 4 burners arranged in a square, and 4 controls in a vertical row down the side. Or maybe slightly better, 4 controls in a horizontal row across the front, hinting that the left two might operate the left two burners. If you don't take time to read the little diagram, you'll likely turn on the wrong burner. At least, I do. A lot.

A better layout would put the 4 burners in a trapezoid, with two burners close together in the back and two burners spread apart in the front; and a row of 4 controls arcoss the front of the stove. There's no way to confuse the controlo-burneral mapping even when you're holding a pot full of boiling water in one hand and keeping your eyes on the pan full of ground beef.

What we need is a converter that fits snugly over the badly-designed stovetop to move the burners and controls to correct locations. Use heat-retardant metal ducts to transfer heat from each burner to a new location 6 inches higher and offset as necessary. Use an amazing series of levers and gears to translate the turning and pressing of controls down to the old controls. For bonus points, the new controls swap between displaying C and F at the flick of a switch, so you can read recipes in either language.

The manufacturer could create a variation for every model of stove on the market, handling different control types and locations, and burner locations. For stoves that controls burners through an 11-button digital interface, the converter would need a small logic chip to translate all of this into a simple knob.

And we'd never again wait 10 minutes for the water to boil, only to notice that the burner next to the pot is glowing a bright, useless red.

michaeltherobot, Apr 22 2006

1, 2, boil up my stew 1_2c_202_2c_20boil_20up_20my_20stew
cooker heating rings shaped as symbols [xenzag, Apr 23 2006]

[link]






       'fraid you'd lose those bets. Good thing I don't bet with robots. :-) My Whirlpool range does a pretty good job of mapping the controls to the burners. The controls form a trapezoid up on the back panel; the burners form basically a square. From the first day, I never had trouble associating the correct control with the desired burner.   

       Of course, controls up on the back have some bad points, but they're positioned close to the outermost edges of the panel so they can generally be accessed even when the burners are all in use with a pretty good chance of not being burned by reaching across a boiling pot.   

       That's a good book. I keep my tattered and torn copy right here at my desk. <old timer>Why I read that book when it was still known as The Psychology of Everyday Things, sonny. Myep.</old timer>
half, Apr 22 2006
  

       I discovered it in a used book store in Silicon Valley several months back, and loved it. I'm somewhat of a UI freak.   

       I also loved the apology in the introduction for originally naming the book in poorly-designed way :)
michaeltherobot, Apr 22 2006
  

       I can sympathise with the "find the right cooker knob dilemma" - see link for my particular solution...
xenzag, Apr 23 2006
  

       This is what you get when you let a robot design things. ROTFL [+]
pashute, Aug 07 2012
  
      
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