Our plug-in electric kettle broke yesterday. I am trying not to be devastated. I so loved the warm blue glow of its light as it boiled my water for an evening cup of tea. It has been a good friend to me. It still works, sort of. The lid-hatch-thingy just won’t close anymore, so the internal switch to turn it off once the water is boiling doesn’t get triggered and it just Keeps On Boiling… But, if I weigh it down with a towel, it stays closed and turns off when it is supposed to. I am not sure if that is safe. I find myself wondering if I could tape it shut. Maybe, but I can’t trust it to leave it to itself anymore. It is no longer autonomous. That might be dangerous. We may have to open our purse-strings and get a new kettle.
This has affected me in a strange way. Before I would be angry and think “What bunch of crappy plastic and electronics.” Now, through this adventure we are on, bringing our own bunch of electronics to market, I think differently. I feel sadness for the maker of this kettle. I feel worry for them. I feel compassion. Someone worked very hard to get that beautiful kettle into my kitchen.
Last week, we met with an “Industrial Research Adviser” from the Industrial Research Assistance Program of the National Research Council of Canada. He has been the most helpful person we have met so far. We have learned everything about the process of bringing an electronics product into the public eye. Through the National Research Council’s help, we have made very special contacts with expert electronics Engineers, local fabrication and machining businesses, marketing strategies, funding routes and programs.
I never realized that everyday products we all use and rely upon required so much work to get onto that store shelf and into our hands. Only a small part of the process is about marketing. Most of the hard work, long hours and financial investment required for something very simple, like a kettle, for example requires Standards Testings that can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. Any product with a patent behind it has tens of thousands of dollars invested in it. Defending a patent against someone else violating it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars at least. Working with lawyers to simply establish a business name and number, go incorporated and register costs thousands. Then don’t forget to add on the product disclaimer warnings, terms and conditions, and insurance costs…
I now look at all the great products swimming around me and I am in awe. We all take it for granted, particularly the years of work that people spend creating, testing and refining prototypes.
I will no longer ask “why on earth does this thing cost so much? It’s just a bunch of plastic and electronics”. The prices are all about the “overhead costs”.
We are living the dream of bringing a bunch of plastic, electronics and wires into the public eye. Years of hard research and development, a year working with a patent lawyer, and just a few months working further with lawyers, engineers, government representatives, marketing professionals, and banks: day after day of long, busy days.
I feel ashamed of the way I used to take for granted all the wonderful little helper gadgets and things that make my home a home.
Not anymore. I tip my hat to anyone who has gotten anything from home-made to professional grade. Well-done world!
…we still need a new kettle, though.