BSH is introducing the new Bosch Filtrino water heater on European markets. It is a small appliance, the size of an espresso maker, and promises to deliver instantaneous hot water in four different temperatures. Perfect if you are in the U.K. and want a cup of tea, one cup at a time. And it works fine; with German perfection you can select the temperature and the volume, so no need to boil extra water and you can change between black, green and herbal tea, as they need different temperatures, or even instant soup or cocoa.
The first thing an engineer will notice is the technological paradox in this product. An instant water heater is a niche product, so how can you have an advanced heating system (flow-through with variable temperature)? The answer is easy: the heating system was already there. In the current line of BTC (bean-to-cup) espresso makers, the same system is used. When these were introduced about two years ago, BSH needed to come up with something better than the competition. Current thermoblock machines were slow in pre-heating, and did not deliver constant water temperature. So BSH started all over again and developed the unique heating element. It is an adapted version which powers the Filtrino. Due to the computerized controls using two sensors and variable water speed a precise temperature setting is achieved.
The rest of the design breathes German perfection: the indicator LED blinks until all the water has came out, and you can lock the heater when the kids are around. They like all the blinking lights too.Design is German too: geometrical, with a bit of rounded corners, but very controlled, clearly inspired by über-German Bauhaus. You can even see a bit of a skyscraper shape in it, if you really want. The only thing which is missing is a auto-off switch; the current one is mechanical. Why not mount one of these cute switches with a little solenoid built-in?
Filtrino is introduced this spring in Europe, for around €100. No news yet about arrival on U.S. soil.
The Bad News
The Bosch people in the U.S. and Canada might have not much time to work on the introduction of Filtrino, as one of the largest product recalls in recent history is under way. The Tassimo single-cup brewer has been seen to spew hot liquid onto consumers, posing a burn hazard. There have been 140 reports, of which 37 were second-degree burns, including some children. It affects about 835K beverage makers in the U.S. and 900k in Canada. As if this was not enough, 4 million (!) of matching capsules, called T-discs, were also recalled. The discs can burst. Beverage brands affected are Nabob, Gevalia and Maxwell House.
Tassimo is a low-pressure single-serving hot beverage system, originally designed by the French division of Kraft Foods and appliance maker Braun. After Braun (part of Gilette) was sold to Proctor&Gamble, the two food giants did not want to co-own the product and BSH took over the hardware, in their small appliance factory in Slovenia as well as in China. Tassimo is unique because of the bar code on the capsules, which tells the machine how to brew. Bosch might find some comfort in the fact that a competing product, the Philips Senseo, experienced a simular recall around 2009, and the recall was even bigger then, 7 million coffee makers were potentially affected, mainly in Holland, Germany, Belgium and France. It might have been a 30-to-50 million euro bill for Philips Electronics.