Desktop hand warmer uses focused IR LEDs to beat the chill
Folks who spend much of their home-working time tapping away at a keyboard, and also suffer from cold hands, can find keeping their digits toasty during winter months something of an expensive problem. Danish startup Varme has sought to address such issues with a power-sipping desktop hand warmer.
The Varme hand heater is the brainchild of engineer Søren Abildgaard and economist Michael Hyldgaard, and has been in development for more than 10 years – helped along the way by input from Ph.D researcher at UC Berkeley Hui Zhang and architect and designer Anne Qvist.
"It all started in 2012," said Abildgaard. "My brother worked as a church servant in Viborg Cathedral and told me about their huge heating bill. They had to warm up so that the organist could practice – that is, so that the organist could keep his hands warm.
"I had come up with infrared LED and the possibility of focusing the heat radiation with low energy consumption. With the organist, I now had a very precise goal, namely cold hands. And it wasn't just a problem for him, but many others, I found out. That's why I started to explore the possibilities more closely."
The idea is that a user plugs the device into the mains via a 60-W adapter, which brings eight low-power IR LEDs to life, quickly raising "the temperature by 10 °C in front of it. When the hands are within the working area, they receive the soft and pleasant warmth."
The current fixed-V-wing heater stands 189 mm (7.4 in) tall and is 265 mm (10.4 in) wide, and tips the scales at 0.75 kg (1.65 lb). It features a heat-dissipating cast aluminum frame surrounded in an insulating cover to protect the user when handling the powered-on device.
Likewise, the output of each IR LED is kept low enough so that it warms but doesn't burn. "In a time of expensive electricity, it is nice to know that the consumption of electricity is minimal, and there is no risk of the hand heater igniting paper or anything else lying on the desk," reads the press release. Power draw has been measured at 42 watts.
"The infrared heat is not too strong to become a risk, because it is sent from 8 LEDs distributed in the width of the hand heater," said the startup's co-founder, Søren Abildgaard. "The LED spots then direct the heat as kind of parallel beams, each not strong enough to do any harm."
The team has undertaken type testing to meet European standards, but has yet to go through the compliance process for sales to American markets, and reports that a small initial production run is in stock and ready to ship.
The Varme hand heater is currently raising funds on Indiegogo, where perks start at €160 (or US$170). The usual crowdfunding cautions apply, but if all goes to plan with the already funded campaign, shipping is estimated to start in April.
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Desk space is at a premium and this represents more clutter. Something like a soundbar for a monitor would be better for space, or a completely different heat mat design.
In energy terms this uses as much as three 24 inch monitors and crucially uses too much power to be fed off a wide range of USB ports,e.g off the monitor, so needs its own power supply which is worse for cable management and general convenience.
The price is quite silly, but that seems to be the norm for crowdfunded items. There's no way these would shift in normal retail at this price. Perhaps about a fifth of this price.