What is a VECTON?

Gogi vecton foodsVecton WHAT IS A VECTON?

The creativity of companies naming things is awesome.  Now, an Israeli company. seems to have sold a super radar oven as something new.  Is this hype?

The company calls itself “Goji” as in the goji berries.

I first heard about this from my brother Hugh who had an executive role at RF Dynamics (recently renamed Goji).  He told me about plans to manufacture a cooking oven that uses “radio waves for quick, precise and efficient cooking.”  I was suspicious … Israel has a lot of talent in radar and the idea that they had a novel cooking method  sounded like hype.   Even reading their site now, the thing sounds a lot like a convection microwave oven.  Not so new but facts do not matter when the marketers, lawyers and bankers are the ones making the $$$.  

Not sure what happened, but Hugh is no longer involved.  Too bad, seems as if Goji may make a lot of money.  If this magic oven is what I think its is, the money is going to depend on two things .. marketing (Hugh’s forte) and the lawyers’ ability to fend off competing patents.

So, what is a VECTON?

Goji Food Solutions claims that the Vecton is a “completely new way to create, prepare and interact with food………… Even without any culinary training, users of Goji-enabled products can prepare foods with astonishing results in a fraction of the time of conventional methods – whether entire trays in commercial kitchens or single meals at home. ”

Goji’s patented technology is based on a unique solid-state energy delivery and sensing module – VectonTM – allowing unprecedented levels of precision and control. Every few seconds, the Vecton utilizes radio waves to sense the current state of food, and then applies heating only where and when needed according to an advanced algorithm. By always being “aware” of the food’s state, Goji delivers perfect results.

Sounds like a new and improved radar oven?  I do not know.  My best guess is that VECTON uses a sensor that interacts with the  food to control the radio frequencies used by the microwave. Such a thing could be patented but existing patents may already cover the same field and similar sensors would be easy to engineer a work around if any of the big companies chose to do so.
The pictures on the left (from Goji’s web site) show the kind of cooking associated with convection ovens.  These  ovens use two sources of heat …  radar to boil the water in the food, heating it inside by making steam, and a much lower frequency (near infra red) to heat the outside of the food.   If what Hugh told me is correct, the Goji oven may be  a combination of the normal radar oven microwaves and with shorter waves that can cook the surface .
Someone with $$$ thinks this is a great idea.  The US conglomerate ITW invested $50 million in RF Dynamics in 2010, in exchange for company stock and is expected to pour another $450 million into the company for joint research and development activities over the next seven years.  Company executives estimated in the past that the deal catapulted RF’s market value to $311 million. US based VC fund NEA has recently invested $20 million in Israeli’s Goji.
GOJI: a  “magic oven” – an oven that uses radio waves to heat up food in a fraction of the time it takes for microwave oven that also uses radio waves.

The NEA investment impresses me.  NEA is one of the most prominent investment funds in Silicon Valley. So far, the fund has raised $11 billion in technology investments.  Its portfolio includes coupon giant Groupon, the world’s leading cloud computing software developer Salesforce and 23&ME, the genome company founded by Anne Wojcicki – the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. The fund also invests in many biotech enterprises and in software, internet and manufacturing projects.

While investors continue to pour money into NEA, its executives are continuing to wage war over the control of the company.  Goji may also be in legal trouble. executives Eran Ben-Shmuel and Alexander Bilchinsky claim Ben-Haim deprived them of stock and are seeking an injunction on the marketing of the company’s products. Ben-Haim claims the two are making false claims on the company’s IP.  RF dynamics has been involved in other over hyped companies, including a a supposedly magical pacemaker that, hype aside, seems to be similar to devices already sold by large bio technology firms.

So, my guess is that the  VECTON is functionally similar to a convection/microwave with the addition of a sensor that can control the heat source(s).  One additional idea that is notably absent from the Goji site is WiFi.  This sort of sensor data would seem a  natural for integration with web based services, even including recipes that could prompt the chef!  The trouble for Goji may be the watchful eyes at Samsung, LG, GE, …. I have reason to believe that the VECTONS will be built in Korea and I find it all too easy to imagine a device like this that is controlled by my Samsung S4 without paying royalties to Goji.

(updated for typographic errors, Mar. 8, 2015, April 29, 2105).





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