Sleek, chic and streamlined: that's the James Dyson Award-winning Miito, a new kind of kettle that looks nothing like a kettle at all. The rod-and-plate ensemble uses induction technology to save power and water by heating up precisely the amount of water you need and no more.
The kettle was designed by Nils Chudy and Jasmina Grase of Copenhagen-based Chudy and Grase. The pair was inspired by a TED talk on sustainability by Leyla Acaroglu referencing a 2013 report in the UK that found £68 million ($106.5 million) worth of electricity was being wasted per year on boiling more water than was required.
"My inspiration was the daily use of electric kettles. I wondered why all kettles look so similar. I quickly noticed that they not only look bad but they are also wastefully designed," Chudy explained.
"The minimum fill line of the majority of kettles is at approximately 500mL. This means that if you want one cup of tea (250mL) you waste 50 percent of the hot water, which means you waste 50 percent of the energy. This adds up to be a lot."
Designing the kettle, which was revealed last year, has now advanced to a point where it's almost ready for production.
"Last year, we only had a visual mockup and a proof of concept, which was basically a standard induction cooktop and a rod that is 9cm in diameter," Chudy said. "Today we have gotten so much further."
The redesigned kettle rod is is much thinner, with a base 4.5 cm in diameter, small enough to fit inside most drinking vessels, and it can heat 200mL of water in 60 seconds. It's also easy to clean, made of smooth stainless steel. This is one advantage the Miito has over other heating methods, such as coiled immersion heaters.
"The immersion heater is complicated to use, it sits sideways in your cup and is almost waiting to be tipped over by bumping against the cord. Also it is quite nasty after a while because it is so complicated to be cleaned -- you cannot put it in the dish washer. Miito can be cleaned easily -- either with running water or by putting it in the dishwasher," Chudy said.
As for the standard electric kettle, the minimum water level of 500 millilitres in most kettles is not the only issue -- the weight of a normal kettle can be difficult for some people, and Miito's ability to heat liquids other than water makes it an attractive prospect in other ways.
"We have emails from an elderly couple who were so eager to get their hands on a Miito, since they cannot lift normal electric kettles, but with Miito they could still easily make their cup of tea," Chudy said. "Or with mothers who would love to use Miito for heating baby food."
The device uses a form of electrical induction for heating much like induction cooktops. The induction plate contains a coil that produces a high-frequency electromagnetic field when powered on. Normally this means very little; but when a magnetic material comes into contact with the plate, this closes a circulating electric current, which in turn produces heat in the rod.
At the moment, the Miito needs to be monitored and turned off manually, but the team has a few design features that they are hoping the Kickstarter will help implement.
"We are dreaming of an accurate temperature sensor that wirelessly measures the temperature of the liquid and then automatically switches the device off. We already have multiple approaches on how to solve this problem but that requites an extra amount of money. We are excited to see how much funds we will be able to raise and if that might be enough to tackle the temperature feature," Chudy said.
The Miito kettle is currently being offered as a reward for a minimum pledge of €90 (around $100), with higher reward tiers including tea sets and fine teas. You can find out more on the Miito Kickstarter campaign page.