Professional chefs are known for their advanced knife skills and their deep
understanding of how ingredients work together. Now, with the help of NFC
is giving home cooks a professional edge, with sophisticated
that identify accessories and automatically adjust their performance to match
the task. The result is a series of smart appliances that make it easier for
home cooks to produce flawless meals and explore new cuisines.
Founded in 1921, Ohio-based Vitamix is still privately held and family owned
and operated. Their high-performance blending equipment, designed for home and
commercial use, continues to win awards and is known for performance,
versatility and ease of use. Gourmet chefs tend to give the company their
highest possible compliment, saying their Vitamix machines are as important to
them as their knives.
In recent years, though, the consumer blender market has become increasingly
crowded, with relative newcomers claiming their machines match the performance
of a Vitamix at a fraction of the cost. This is generally untrue, but it can
be difficult to cut through the noise.
One way Vitamix has attacked this challenge is through innovation –
redefining the high-performance blending space, which they created, through
new features others cannot claim. A good example of this is their use of NFC
to create smarter products that support a host of new applications, now and in
Vitamix’s new Ascent blenders feature SELF-DETECT™ Technology ,
based on NFC, that makes it easier to use different blending containers and
scale recipes. The Ascent series works with blending containers of different
sizes. There’s an 8-ounce (25 cl) bowl, for prepping ingredients; a
20-ounce (60 cl) to-go cup for making portable recipes like smoothies; and
there’s a standard 64-ounce (2 l) pitcher for handling the larger
quantities needed to make fresh pasta sauces, hot soup, frozen desserts,
blended beverages and so on.
Each container is equipped with an NFC tag that communicates with the NFC
reader in the blender base once it’s attached to the machine. The
container tells the machine what it is and verifies its authenticity, so the
blender knows it’s working with an original container that’s
safe to use. The container then describes how it is to be handled, and the
blender automatically adjusts its settings, changing up to 140 parameters.
That way, ingredients in the smaller container aren’t over-blended,
items in the larger container get the blending force they need and the
operating parameters always remain within prescribed safety limits.
CONSUMER BENEFITS OF SELF-IDENTIFICATION:
Ease of use – The main unit identifies the
accessory, so interactions are simpler, there are fewer errors and
operation is friendlier.
Safety – The accessory can define the operating
modes automatically in order to keep within safe limits (motor speed, time,
etc.). It provides an interlock system for our blending cups with accessible
- Hygiene – Cleanable with no hidden dirt traps
VITAMIX BENEFITS OF SELF-IDENTIFICATION:
Fewer fakes – Counterfeit containers won’t
work with the main unit.
Happier customers – Easier operation means fewer
Smaller user interface – Allows the user’s
phone or tablet to be an extended interface.
Tougher operating environments – NFC works with
dustproof and waterproof accessories. They survive the molding process as
well as years of extreme heat, vibration and many dishwasher cycles
A big design challenge
Adding wireless smarts to a blender meant meeting a long list of requirements.
Vitamix’s end product had to be dishwasher-safe, simple to use and
easy to clean, with no dirt traps or hidden cavities. The container had to
work in all positions, had to perform with different physical configurations and had to meet global regulatory requirements. The solution also had to
maintain the visual brand language of the Vitamix machine base.
The company tried several different options for wireless, but found that using
from NXP and hardtag technology from
created the perfect combination of smart and tough for this demanding
application. After months of prototyping and testing the alternatives, the
Vitamix team found that, with NFC, they needed only a few hours to create
their first working proof of concept. From there, NFC solutions by NXP allowed
rapid, flexible development of a world-leading solution.
The solution architecture is based on an NXP MCU and an NXP NFC reader in the
appliance base. The combination of these two ICs allowed maximum flexibility
in the NFC application because Vitamix was able to customize the NXP Reader
Library to meet its needs. In the accessories, the use of NXP’s NFC IC
afforded a complete end-to-end solution that optimizes use of the NFC tag
features. The approach also lets Vitamix extend the solution to include
engaging smartphone interactions. The NXP MCU offers a safety-critical
solution with support for Class B safety requirements, as well as tight NFC
integration with a complete reference demo in addition to local support
– all ensuring that Vitamix met strict time to market requirements.
Vitamix tested the new product line extensively, gauging performance
underwater, in the dishwasher and in real-word situations that simulate years
Connected kitchen concept
As an extension of its NFC functionality, Vitamix is developing a connected
kitchen concept, which will include the Vitamix Perfect Blend Scale and a
mobile app. The app guides the user through recipe-making with use of the
scale. The scale is connected to the app, and the user gets real-time feedback
on the portioning of the product into the container. The NFC technology in the
container rounds out this system by identifying itself to the app through the
blender’s Bluetooth Low Energy connection. The app then modifies
the recipe parameters based on the container detected. What this all means for
consumers is an exciting platform enabling them to make and create recipes
like professional chefs, with the ease and convenience of seamless technology.
A launch pad for future growth
NFC will allow for an unprecedented machine reconfiguration when new Vitamix
containers and attachments are introduced in future. The machine will
reprogram itself to ensure that, no matter what is placed on top of it, it
runs with intelligent information.
Vitamix Ascent Series
Smartrac Vitamix Announcement
NXP’s NFC Technology Hub