How & why was the HottMitt created?
You know what it's like...
If you’re reading this then you probably know what it’s like – what used to be a simple case of walking though the front door is now akin to mobilising an army! Is the change bag stocked? Have we got snacks, toys, drinks, spare clothes etc. Do the kids need another layer on? Why won’t the baby keep their hat on etc etc. So much focus is on the kids that the parents often forget about their own needs.
A number of problems seemed to present themselves time and again in the cold winter months. Wearing gloves is a pain because almost everything to do with babies requires bare hands, so a mitten that’s fixed to the push chair is ideal. Mobile phone batteries never seem to be big enough, and in this day and age a functioning phone is a necessity as opposed to a luxury.
Mark had purchased a basic hand warmer online when their first baby came along in the winter of 2016. Whilst it did a passable job in the remaining cold months, he always felt it could be improved upon. During the winter of 2017 inspiration hit; why didn’t someone invent a mitten that had a heater inside? A bit like a heated seat in a car. It would need a power source for the heating element, so why not make the battery big enough to charge a phone as well? Even better, what if the phone could be held on the mitten and the screen was not only visible, but actually usable?
Einstein was right, the 1% inspiration phase was over and it was time for the 99% perspiration to begin. Mark scoured the web for heating elements and battery packs, working out the difference between ‘warm’ and ‘hot’ and designing a mitten that would work with as many push chairs as possible.
A local design company helped create a specification and basic prototype, a manufacturing partner was found and more prototypes arrived for testing (with Mark walking around the garden in the snow with an empty pushchair, looking like a crazy person!).
Test, change, test, change...
Numerous tweaks to temperature gradients, power draw, battery size, glove size, materials, colours followed, until final prototypes arrived for approval.
The only issue was that it was now the middle of a hot UK summer. It’s hard to get a feel for whether or not a hand warmer is working when it’s hot outside!
This picture was taken during testing at home - note the 25.8 °C ambient temperature (not helpful). How can you test a product designed for cold temperatures when it's hot outside?
Luckily a friend of Mark’s runs a chain of Cafés and owns a refrigerated van with freezer and fridge sections. A fairly random WhatsApp exchange followed (Hey - do you have a walk in freezer // we have a refrigerated van // can I borrow it please? I'm working on a heated mitten // of course you are. it'll be free on Wednesday // winner, thank you...)
A couple of afternoons sat in the dark at 3-6 °C (fridge) and -20 °C (freezer), armed only with a phone torch, some HottMitt samples and some temperature measurement probes, and the production order was placed!
So here we are. The winter is upon us and it’s time to see if anyone else thinks this is a good idea!
Without further ado, it gives us great pleasure to introduce the HottMitt!