The Mealbutler is an intelligent, simple and safe food warmer for ready-to-eat meals, targeting seniors. They form an important customer segment for fresh ready-to-eat meals delivered at home, which they then need to warm. Together with Demetra, a Belgian company focusing on the social services sector, we were able to make the life of senior citizens much more simple.
- Client: Demetra
Warming fresh meals that are delivered at home is usually done in the microwave. The microwave rarely gives a tasty result and often isn’t very easy to use. With many buttons and non-standardized options, getting a warm and tasty meal is a real challenge.
For seniors, free of stigma
Products for the elderly have to take into account any limitations they may face. But this doesn’t have to be conspicuous. It can be done without those typical bright colors, big buttons and displays. When designing the Mealbutler, our focus was on the absolute safety and ease of use, but there’s nothing to give away that this is a product for the elderly. The appliance has a modern look and seamless design. Two simple rings ensure that the meal is always placed perfectly on the heating element. The display is only visible when the machine is on.
"The Mealbutler is easy to use and extremely safe, but there’s nothing to give away that this is a product for the elderly."
Using an advanced and energy-efficient form of thermal conduction, the Mealbutler slowly warms the meal in its original packaging or crockery. There is less evaporation this way, hence no quality loss. The result is a tasty meal. After 45 minutes, the meal has reached the perfect temperature. That long? It turns out, for the intended users that’s not a problem at all. They just want to know in advance exactly when the meal will be ready. Just goes to show that every target group is different.
One button, that's all
The Mealbutler only has one button, to start the warm-up cycle. This intelligent device registers the warm-up curve, adjusting the release of heat accordingly. This way, every meal is warmed in a perfectly even manner. That’s utter simplicity.
Because the meal is heated slowly, the heating element doesn’t heat up much more than the meal itself. This means the user can’t get burned. In addition, the appliance switches itself off after use.
This is Demetra’s first hardware product. That’s why it was important to keep the investment cost as low as possible, without compromising on quality.
The Mealbutler was designed in such an intelligent way that only one synthetic component is visible. And that’s the only part which required an expensive mold. The other parts can be produced in small numbers, at a low cost.
By focusing on exactly what this product needed to do for the end user, we helped Demetra market a completely new heating method. The Mealbutler has been available since 2012 and is a big success in the intended target group: seniors who are still living independently. Meanwhile, the product is also increasingly used in nursing homes, giving residents the opportunity to enjoy a meal in their own room, without too much burden on the staff.