Manufacturing Update 8: The Importance of Durability

 
 

Dear Kelloists,

April was a very intense month. We’re moving forward on all aspects of the product but unfortunately we stumbled upon an issue that will cause a delay. 

Logistics & Packaging

As we’re approaching the final steps of manufacturing, we’re now finalizing two major subjects for any hardware project: packaging and logistics.

Packaging 

A good box: 

  • has to be strong (delivering services tend to not treat packages kindly), 
  • must protect the product well, 
  • must look good.

We’ve spent some time on it and we’re very happy with the final result. Below a pictures of the development of these boxes (we won’t show you the final box to avoid spoiling the surprise!).

Durability

During the month of April, our manufacturer ran some destructive testing in order to test Kello’s durability.

Fatigue Testing 

One of the most common tests is very straightforward: pressing a button until it breaks. We used a pneumatic arm to press every Kello button 5,000 times.

After all these presses, Kello was still good as new. The mechanical feedback of the buttons didn’t get loose, and all clicks were correctly registered. 

Drop Testing

Another crucial test is taking a bunch of Kellos and drop them from a height of 1 meter (3 feet and 3 inches).

The outcome of this test was not as good as we hoped: more often that we liked, Kello’s colored shell ended up separated from its the core. Nothing that couldn’t be managed (it is super easy to re-clip the coloured shell part to the core part) but we feared that after several drops things might start to break.

Everybody expects an alarm clock to be durable and we know people won’t be easy with the product. That’s why we decided to rework the molds and slightly change the mechanical design.

This change causes a 4-week delay. We are now going to ship end of next month (4th week of June).

We know this is a big disappointment and quite frankly we’re pretty bummed as well, especially because everything else is ready and we could have pressed the button and ship this version end of May, but after many discussions we realized that 1 month is a good trade-off for a better product that won’t get weakened after a few drops on the floor. 

Next Steps

Production Samples

This change shifted our entire timeline. While our engineers already came up with a better design, we’ll get the final production samples in mid-May, and start mass production in mid-June. 

Apps 

On the bright side, this delay gives us the opportunity to continue working on the apps and the firmware and polish everything a little further.

iOS App

We’re putting the final touches on the iOS app and our next milestone is the App Store submission.

Android App

The Android app is now our top priority. Most of the core functionalities are ready and we’re now focusing on debugging. When it’s stable enough, we’ll start working on the implementation of the Sleep Programs.

You’ll find below a quick demo video of the Android app.

That’s it for this month. If you have any comment or remark, feel free to post a comment!

Best,

The Kello Team.

    Manufacturing Update 7: Iterating on Tooling

     
     

    Dear Kelloists,

    Another week, another round of development, testing, prototypes and progress. 

    It’s the little things that matter 

    10 days ago, we got the first injected sample of Kello, made with the same molds and tooling as the Kellos you will get. This was a huge step forward as we moved from 3D printed prototypes to injected parts using industrial-grade tools.

    We called this prototype EVP (Engineering Validation Prototype) 1.0 and we were quite happy with it, but it had its issues.

    For instance, under certain angles, the speaker grid could be seen through the fabric...

    ...the back button was sticking out a bit too far…  

    ...and the screen was too bright to be used in a bedroom, even dimmed at minimum.

    We submitted a list of changes to our manufacturing partner last week and yesterday, we received the first version with some of the new mechanical changes, made with the final material and colors. Therefore we’re proud to present you… Kello EVP 1.2!

    We’re quite pleased with these prototypes. One of the trickiest parts was nailing the right feeling for the “snooze” button: as you snooze your alarm by pressing Kello’s head, the whole colored shell moves downwards, and it was a mechanical challenge to come up with a design that would prevent the button jamming or being stuck. Our engineers nailed it, and the feeling is very satisfying.

    This prototype still has some room for improvement but we’re 90% there. As we still have 2 rounds of iterations to go, we’re confident that everything will be perfect before kicking off mass production in late May.

     

    Moving towards production

    For mass production, we’re writing a list of the tests every Kello must pass to be considered “commercial-grade quality”.

    Some of the tests each Kello will have to pass

    Some of the tests each Kello will have to pass

     All major mechanical changes have been locked, and the design of the electronic motherboard has been frozen.

    Kello's final motherboard

    Kello's final motherboard

     The design of all internal components is finished and we’re now in a fine-tuning phase, making sure each part injects and assembles well by refining our molds.

    A Kello ready to be assembled

    A Kello ready to be assembled

    During the upcoming days, we will start design and assembly testing. We’ll basically take a few prototypes and torture them: check if they can survive multiple 4 feet (1m20) falls, high and cold temperatures, thousands of presses on the buttons... Kello must be durable even under difficult conditions.

    That’s it for today. If you have any question or comment, shoot below!

    Thanks again for your support,

    The Kello Team

      Manufacturing Update 6: Our First Injected Kello

       
       

      Dear Kelloists,

      Things are starting to get really exciting as we’re now getting our first pre-production samples. Check out this month’s progress!   

      Tooling and Molds

      As stated in our last update, we’re in the process of making our injection molds. The first version of the molds has been released and we have just injected our very first Kello! It’s in black because it makes it easier to see little defects in the plastic.

       
      Our first injected prototype

      Our first injected prototype

       

      The quality of the mold is very good for a first iteration. We do have a few things we need to improve on and it’s perfectly normal, such as the feeling of the snooze or the finishing of some parts. As every Kello we'll make will be injected using these molds, we want to be extremely confident that they are good quality.

      Our manufacturer is currently making a new iteration of the molds. We expect a new set of prototypes by the end of next week.

      New iOS App

      As you know, we already have a fully functioning iOS app, and we have improved its design to have a better coherence with our website, packaging, and brand universe.

      We’ve added a few features and we also fixed all the bugs we’ve noticed since we started testing and using Kello (for more than a year now!).

       
       

      Android App

      Last week we kicked off the development of our Android app and our developer is working on it as we speak. More to come soon.

       
       

      Firmware

      We’re now putting the final touches to Kello’s firmware. First, we need to be extra sure that it’s completely bug-free as when we’ll ship, we’ll have less control on its most critical parts, and second, we want it to look good.

      That’s why we added some nice animations on Kello. We hope you like them!

      anim.gif

      What’s next? 

      Next week we’ll get more prototypes, that we’ll intensively use and test for 2 weeks. In late April, our manufacturer will make another iteration of Kellos that we’ll use for final testing and product certification.

      We’re still in line to ship late May and we’re working as hard as we can to meet this deadline.

      Manufacturing Update 5: Making of the Molds

       
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      Dear Kelloists,

      We've moving forward in the mass manufacturing process and soon you'll be able to enjoy your Kellos. Here's a roundup of this month's news.

      Mold Manufacturing

      We're still making the molds used for plastic injection. It's a lengthy process because we only have one shot at this: as every Kello will be made using these molds, their quality has to be perfect.

      So far, we're on track and we are visiting our factory on a weekly basis to be sure we're not missing anything.

      We made a short video of the manufacturing process of Kello's molds:

      Next Steps

      The next steps are: 

      • finishing the manufacturing of the molds by mid-March,
      • using them in plastic injection machines and make the first samples of each part,
      • by the end or March, assembling ~20 Kellos using the final tooling and electronic boards.

      These 20 Kellos are called Engineering Validation Samples and will be used to refine our manufacturing process (choose the color shade of each parts, their finishing, etc.)

      After these steps, we'll run a few iterations and make more and more Kellos until mass production in May.

      That's it for today. If you have any question on the mold manufacturing process, shoot in the comments!

      Best,

      The Kello Team.

          

        Manufacturing Update 4: Design for Manufacturing is Finished

         
        DFM.png
         

        Dear Kelloists,

        We’ve made big progress during the last 2 weeks on manufacturing preparation and electronics design. Here’s a roundup of what we’ve been working on.

        New Microcontroller

        As mentioned in our last update, last December we chose to change the brains of Kello to make them more powerful and future-proof. 

        It took us a few weeks to redesign the whole mother board, and we just got the prototype of our motherboard with the new microcontroller: everything is working as expected.

        The board with the new microcontroller

        The board with the new microcontroller

        This means that we can keep chasing bugs and add features directly on the new motherboard. 

        Design for Manufacturing

        Another big news: we just finished Design for Manufacturing! Our factory worked tirelessly to make the most effective design for Kello without changing its external appearance.

        Kello isn’t an easy product. It has: 

        • a powerful speaker (that can creates all sorts of vibrations),
        • a mechanical snooze button (that must be easily clickable without being flimsy), 
        • and a dozen of other mechanical constraints (LED screen, fabric cover, silicon buttons, light sensor…).

        Each of these constraints is a design challenge that our engineers had to overcome. And the result is impressive: in 8 weeks, our mechanical engineers took our design to the next level.

        Here’s an example of the work done on the “front panel” part of Kello (viewed from behind and without its fabric cover).

        The iterations we made during the last months will make for a more durable and higher quality product.  

        Now we can move towards one of the biggest steps in manufacturing a product: making the plastics injection molds.

        Mass Manufacturing

        Plastic Injection Molds

        To mass manufacture Kello, we’re using the plastic injection technology: liquid plastic is injected with high pressure in big steels moulds.

        These moulds basically are “negatives” of our plastic parts. They need to be carefully designed, then machined with high precision tools, and our factory just started this process.

        Procurement

        Additionally to the mold manufacturing kick off, last week we placed the order for the long lead time electronics components needed to manufacture a few thousands of Kellos. All parts should arrive in time for mass manufacturing.

        Chinese New Year & Next Steps

        On the manufacturing side, the next two weeks will be slow as China is on vacation. We’ll use this time to work on the Kello firmware and on the new version of our iOS and Android apps.

        96e1626734e0946be22dc78a9bb0a8c6_original.png

        Meanwhile, we’ll be posting photos and videos of our progress on Instagram andFacebook. Make sure you’re following us!

        That’s it for today. As always, share your thoughts in the comments!

        The Kello Team.

        Manufacturing Update 3: More Power for Kello

         
         

        Dear Kelloists,

        First things first, we wish you a very happy new year, filled with countless great nights of sleep!

        We’ve been working all December to prepare the manufacturing of Kello. Here’s a roundup of our progress. 

        Design For Manufacturing

        The engineers at our factory spent the last 3 weeks perfecting the design of Kello to improve manufacturability and assembly.

        We’re currently in a validation phase to make sure everything fits nicely inside Kello. Last week, we made another prototype to validate the changes from the design for manufacturing phase.

        Kello ready-for-production prototype

        Kello ready-for-production prototype

        We were very pleased by this prototype, especially by the feel of the “snooze” button: as you know, the whole shell of Kello acts a one big button and we want to: 

        • provide good tactile feedback when pressing the button, 
        • make sure you can easily press anywhere on the shell (front/back/center/right/left) to “snooze”.

        Our engineers did a great job, and the mechanical feedback of the button is really satisfying. We still have a few refinements to do, in particular we want to narrow the gap between the shell and core of the device.

        The Microcontroller Dilemma 

        Like every smart device, Kello has a motherboard with a microcontroller chip that basically acts as the brain of the device (just like the microprocessor inside your phone or your computer).

        Kello’s motherboard and microcontroller (red arrow)

        Kello’s motherboard and microcontroller (red arrow)

        When starting the design of Kello, we chose a microcontroller we thought would fit our needs. As we refine the future of Kello however, we realized that it might not be powerful enough to do everything we want to do.

        While the current controller is enough to deliver everything we promised on Kickstarter, we have a roadmap for more Sleep Programs that will need some additional power.

        So we faced a dilemma: keep the old microcontroller that we validated with a dozen of prototypes, or upgrade it with a more powerful version, spend a few weeks making and validating the new design, and change the firmware to make it compatible?

        It was a tough choice. As we’re committed to deliver the best Kello we can, we chose to upgrade the microcontroller.

        This means that we’re currently redesigning a part of the motherboard. This change will have an impact on Kello’s shipping date, which will be postponed to May 2017 instead of late March 2017.

        We’re sorry for this delay but we feel making a “future-proof” Kello we can upgrade remotely with new features is crucial for making the best product for you. 

        If you have any question on why we changed the microcontroller, feel free to reply to this update!

        New LED screens

        In parallel of the redesign, we have sourced Kello’s key components. During the previous weeks we have secured the LED panels.

        We’ll use a fairly new technology: blue LEDs covered by a special sticker that converts the emitting color from blue to white. It’s pretty impressive to see in person.

        On the left on the picture is the screen without the filter, and on the right is the screen with the filter

        On the left on the picture is the screen without the filter, and on the right is the screen with the filter

        The benefits of such a technology are: 

        • Nice, warm white color, 
        • High longevity (100,000+ hours), 
        • High dimmability.

        We’re currently testing these screens to make sure they’re reliable. 

        Next Steps

        As of now, our next steps are: 

        • order all of the components to make 3000+ Kellos (microcontrollers, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules, screens...), 
        • start manufacturing the steel tools needed to inject the plastic parts.

        All of this has to be done before the Chinese New Year (China’s 1-month holiday shutdown, starting Jan 20). January will be a big month for Kello, and as always, we’ll keep you updated every step of the way.

        Thanks for your incredible support,

        The Kello Team

          Manufacturing Update 2: Design For Manufacturing Kick-off

           
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          Dear Kelloists,

          Today, we’ll give you an overview of what we’ve done so far and what’s next.

          Manufacturing Status

          We finally received the funds from Kickstarter! We’ve signed the contract with our manufacturer and started to work on the final mechanical and electrical design of Kello.

          Our timeline for the next 4 months is clear:

          We’re currently in the design and test phase.

          During this phase, we work hand in hand with our contract manufacturer to improve our design and make it mass manufacturable using their machines and processes.

          One of our manufacturer’s engineers giving his take on Kello’s design

          One of our manufacturer’s engineers giving his take on Kello’s design

          The goal is to take the mechanical design to the next level while making sure it’s manufacturable. One of the most striking examples is the speaker box design.

          We had quality sound in our prototypes, but the audio experts from our factory found ways to improve it by using a wider metal speaker frame, which enhances the stability of the speaker and removes vibrations and leaking air issues. It’s a lot simpler and stronger!

          The direct result of this change is better sound, simpler assembly, and cleaner design. It’s a win-win! 

          The next step is to make a prototype of this new design and make sure the metal plate doesn’t interfere with the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals.

          That’s it for today. We’re completely focused on manufacturing preparation and we want to make sure you’ll get the best Kello we can make!

          Thanks again for your incredible support! Any questions? Simply REPLY to this update.

          The Kello Team.

            Manufacturing Update 1: What's Next?

             
             

            Dear Kelloists,

            Our Kickstarter campaign is finished, it is now the beginning of a new phase: manufacturing preparation. Let us give you an overview of what’s next.        

            Manufacturing start and next steps

            We have selected a few factories and are currently waiting for the Kickstarter funds to ignite the mass manufacturing process.

            The immediate next step is start working on the design of the plastic injection molds as soon as we get the funds (in a few weeks from now). We will share more details on this phases in a coming update.

            We are also working on the survey to collect you choice of colors and cable. Expect to receive your survey form next week.

                      

            Communicating with you

            We’ll regularly share in the updates our current status, with photos and 3D simulations of the prototypes and the factory, and ask for your opinion on features, ergonomics choices, etc., through polls. We want you to feel part of the adventure!

             

            How will the Kickstarter money be spent?

            Here’s a breakdown of how we plan on spending the money we made on Kickstarter.

            That's it for today. We're very excited to bring Kello to the next level!

            Talk soon,

            The Kello Team.