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Hotbite
Self-heated lunchbox

"Hotbite" is a line of lunch boxes that heats its contents to help you avoid the long microwave queues at workplaces and personalize hygiene by negating the usage of dirty microwaves.

With models designed for regular and soup meals, it meets the nutritional goals of its users without resorting to expensive and average canteen food. Compared to existing solutions, "Hotbite" steps up the game through its innovative shape and modular design to help you enjoy meals.

- Master Thesis -

The Problem

LONG microwave queues

& close proximity

Average lunch-break lasts 20-35 minutes

45% employees dissatisfied with lunch-break duration

40% employees find their lunch unhealthy

40% employees spend 5 - 10 € every-day on lunch

85% Night-shift workers have no ext. meal choices

TARGET
GROUP

Different budgets & lifestyles

On-site
professionals

Office
Lecture

On-road
professionals

University

students/staff

Users with
diet restrictions 

Office
professionals

Most contaminated surfaces in workspaces are microwave handles, not toilet seats.* Although our immune system would take care of this under usual circumstances, COVID-19 has made utmost hygiene relevant.

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Market
AnaLYSIS

- Available products are expensive, heavy & bulky

- Designs lack quality & friendliness

QFD analysis helped to make the product's placement in the market more effective.

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Inspired by portable solar ovens from GoSun,
solar energy is sustainable 
but weather dependent.

Concepts

starting with a box,

I invoked familiarity with glass based design,
but it would induce high heat losses

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From "Making a box" to "Using a box"

and discovering nuances in food-packaging

I found that the radius of a quick meal's container matched perfectly with the spoon and made scooping its contents effortless.

Hence, it drove me to ideate with a form beyond the boxy profile of lunchboxes and observe how we ate from it.

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It was found that when the food contents reduce,
we start scooping it from the closest corner.

FINDING the right curvature

by "thinking out of the box"

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Different radius for different cutlery?

tighter radius was implemented at a corner to make scooping easier.

Tactile & informative
interface

Modular power inputs

Shifting interface position

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car  -  battery  -  230V

Ergonomic

Modular

Easy

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Tech BEHIND

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Feasibility of IoT technology was evaluated by,

  • Learning Python to program an ESP32 kit (M5stickC)

  • Creating a closed-loop system with a temperature sensor

  • Linking to an app for remote control

Testing the Peltier module for designing a lunchbox with compartments for cold and warm meals.
 

It was disregarded due to its energy inefficiency.

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CES Edupack to narrow down materials with,

  • Low thermal conductivity

  • High service temperature (up to 200 °C)

  • Recyclable & Safe for food contact

  • Ability to use molding & thermoforming

Effective battery choice
(size vs weight)

Power requirements of the self-heating lunch-box were estimated by calculating the energy needed to heat up 850mL water from 5°C to 70°C. i.e. 66.6Wh with a 100W heating element powered for 40min.

 

Since 70Wh energy is available in 21700 x 4 cells or 18650 x 6 cells, either combination can be used.

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LEARNINGS

The recently completed master thesis was in the newly established area of self-heating lunchboxes. Being a consumer-product design, I approached it from every foreseeable angle. From evaluating the competition, defining the market position, designing for mass-production, selecting correct polymers/materials to function in a high-temperature environment, developing an easy user-interface, to learning to program in Python for making an IoT based functional prototype, and last but not least, defining a complete experience for the targeted users with an iconic form language.

I was in the process of simultaneously learning and applying.