February 2022 update

Februar 2022 Update

Firstly, regarding the Ukraine war, we would like to extend our sincere wishes to our Ukrainian supporters, family members and friends. This conflict touches us and our company on many levels. Whilst we are not going to delve too much into politics in this update, we, the Heatle team and our circle of supporters and investors, are spending a lot of private time and money to actively support the Ukrainian people by offering aid and accommodation in our apartments in Berlin, medicine and food. Thanks to the financial support of our amazing network, we managed to donate thousands of doses of insulin to people in need, among many other things. We are also looking to hire Ukrainian professionals in the fields of engineering, development and production positions.

As a company with employees from a variety of countries, including Ukrainian and Russian origin, we take a clear position against the ongoing war. The massive peace demonstration in Berlin was an incredible experience and an important message to the entire world. We know that many of our customers were there, too.

Customer experience, continued

Feedback continues to come in from customers that have already received their delivery. We  thought you would find it interesting to view some of their comments. We value all feedback and learn a lot about how people use their device, i.e. how often, what for and in what ways it improves their lifestyle. All comments get formulated into an action list and prioritised for action either with the Heatle device itself, the mobile app, user interface display, or metal rod/disk accessories


White Heatle, customer/café in the Netherlands

A customer from the Netherlands happens to own a coffee and tea shop and is experimenting with new ways of preparing these beverages with a focus on maximum flavour and clean taste. We hope to have some results we can share with the community in the next few weeks.

Customers in Germany shared:

“I heat everything with my Heatle - soups and milk for my daughter, tea for myself and my wife. Unlike with a microwave or stove, the main benefit for us is that we know the temperature in the cup and it’s quick and easy to use. In particular, that means no more blowing on the hot soup for 5 minutes before my daughter can have it.”

“We mostly use it for tea, about 5-10 times per day. My wife and kids (10-12 years) always heat it to 80°C. They have been using it themselves without any problems. Sometimes we use the Heatle for chickpeas (glass jug water) before frying. And sometimes steaming broccoli has been convenient. One interesting thing we noticed is, you can put the teabag into the water whilst it’s heating up, and the vibration of the stick helps the tea flavour infuse the water”.

Much of the feedback revolves around new ideas and possible improvements.


Black Heatle, customer in Berlin

Some customers send us extensive lists with feedback and ideas for improvement, like this much valued customer from Berlin, who is an engineer, technology expert and coffee/tea lover.

“The device was much better received in the family than previously thought. My "technical lifestyle gadget", as they called it, obviously has a practical use and can also warm 1 litre quickly with the disc. My four-year-old immediately knew how to operate the intuitive interface, even if I could not convey to him the principle of induction.”

He then continued:

“At first glance, the device leaves a thoroughly positive impression. Everything feels well-made and of high quality, and the high weight suggests quality. The design looks elegant and unobtrusive. The rubber feet give a secure stand and dampen vibrations. The stick and the heating disc are extremely well finished. The weld seam is very filigree, the stick at a 90° angle, the transition to the plastic handle is perfect. There is nothing to complain about the display and the contrast and it surpasses other manufacturers.”

In terms of suggestions, he addressed our user interface and asked if we could make it faster to start the heating process, so we implemented a “fast mode” to start your heating with just one click. See more info and a video below in a separate section.

Furthermore, he and other customers asked for a slightly longer cable, which is important feedback for us. So we implemented this immediately and extended the length by 15cm to a total of 85cm. To clarify, since many of you asked: there is no room for a winding spindle at the bottom, but the cable is relatively thin and flexible. A request for an angled plug is still being investigated, as an angled “contour plug” with 2 cores is very uncommon and hard to find. But we are on it.


Video from a customer, Berlin.

Some customers send us video or audio messages with feedback while using their Heatle. In this excerpt, you can hear the original audio so you can get a sense of the sound level of the Heatle with ceramic cups while standing right next to it with a sensitive smartphone microphone.

“I find the process quick and easy. I like that there are different heat levels, not just 70 or 80 degrees, often for the green teas.”

Then she mentions that she didn’t pay attention to the manual and accidentally heated milk in high power mode (instead of the low power mode), which made the milk burn to the metal disk. However, it was easily cleaned with a conventional dishwasher tab. All disks are made from high grade stainless steel, with a fine mirror polish for easier cleaning.


Latest samples of our 100% plastic-free, fully recyclable packaging made in Germany.

We have made more changes according to customer feedback. The packaging had to be improved, for example, because some customers noticed that the cardboard around the Heatle would leave brown traces on the device. Even though they could be wiped off, it did not meet our high standards. We decided to add a layer of sustainable soft paper to avoid friction between the Heatle and the cardboard. Other feedback required the development of additional accessories which we will share in the March update. Further changes were made in software, like the user interface, icons, menu etc.

Please feel free to book an appointment and drop by our office to test the Heatles and give us your own personal feedback so we can implement your ideas in the next release and improve the user experience for the entire community.

Optimised user interface


On the left you can see Marcin and Alexandra during our weekly meeting regarding the user-facing software and user experience as a whole. Marcin is an expert embedded software engineer who writes our user interface code and makes it work smoothly. Alexandra is a user experience designer who creates icons, sounds and menu flows that make the handling clear and enjoyable. They are a perfect tag team professionally - and they are also married in real life. We are blessed to have them on board.

In the video you can see the newly implemented fast mode. It allows you to access the previously used heating profile with just one click. When in standby, you can turn the knob to immediately go to the last setting. Pressing the knob starts the scanning process where you can start the heating. If you wish to select a different mode or temperature, you can press the knob in standby and proceed from the menu. We implemented this very intuitive and user-friendly flow after several suggestions from our customers, and now the entire community can benefit from it.

In this video you can also see the custom profiles which are stored in the My Heatle (♥) menu and can be added or adjusted via the app. Heating baby milk/formula to 37° is a standard profile that is available from the beginning and it heats the liquid gently to 37°, including breast milk, water for the formula or the mixed formula directly.

Heatle ecosystem: new accessories

One of our missions is to reduce e-waste by adding incremental functionality to every Heatle via software and/or add-ons without electronics inside. Marizon is an industrial product designer who develops various accessories for the Heatle. We meet regularly to try out different ideas and check 3D-printed prototypes. The available and cost-efficient printer filament is usually colourful, so the colours do not represent the final products. Our current focus is on convenient tea filters for loose tea which work alongside our heating stick, but also more sophisticated accessories.

Since the rod (with temperature sensors inside) is detachable, we discovered a convenient way to make a “water bath” to heat baby food, for example. Baby food is too thick to be heated directly, and temperature control is critical yet not available with stoves or microwaves. We are developing a convenient accessory that will allow you to heat food in a water bath until the required consistency or temperature is reached. The wireless rod is used as a thermometer and for stirring inside the container while the disc heats the water around it.

 

More important deliveries coming in

Finally, another batch of essential components has arrived - with enough parts to build a five digit amount of devices. Heatles utilise state of the art silicon carbide MOSFETs which are difficult to get but are required to deliver the best possible performance. After a 4 months delay, we are happy to finally have them in our own stock. More components and parts are underway, yet with the current pandemic and geopolitical situation we don’t have reliable ETAs. We constantly keep pushing our providers to be able to manufacture again soon.

 

The main issues are still with the silicon chips and bluetooth devices for the heatle base and rods. All manufacturers and distributors still have zero stock, backlogs and very long lead-times. David continues to chase them up daily, planning production, looking for alternatives and making plans for future production batches.

Metal discs mass production

Our Italian partner finally managed to get the required materials to start the assembly of the discs (in 3 sizes, small, medium and large). Not only is the specific material hard to source, the process of manufacturing the high quality, food-grade stainless steel product is rather time-consuming, with numerous production steps and including ultrasonic polishing processes. 

The magnetic discs are being assembled by a method specifically developed for our application, then thoroughly polished to achieve a mirror finish and easy to clean surface. Then our logo is lasered etched on the top side, so you always know which side to attach the stick to.

 

In-house assembly of accessories

While we are waiting for important components for the main board inside the Heatle base, we continue the assembly of our accessories, such as the heating rods assembled by Robyn. By running such assembly in parallel we'll be able to save time later and ship sooner.

 

The patent-pending design requires a lot of attention to detail. The rod works without batteries and harvests the energy from the existing induction field via the orange copper coil shown on the picture. The temperature is measured at the bottom and transmitted via Bluetooth to the base or smartphone. Robyn programs the boards with the help of a custom-made jig, carefully solders the coil connections and inserts them into the metal tubes. It’s a lot of manual work, but in order to create a scalable process with a guaranteed quality we need to go through this phase before we start producing 4- and 5- digit quantities.