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BeeLine is a stripped back, intuitive, navigation device designed to put the cycling masses back in control of their journey
BeeLine is a stripped back, intuitive, navigation device designed to put the cycling masses back in control of their journey
3,038 backers pledged £150,185 to help bring this project to life.

Tooling up!

Posted by Mark Jenner & Tom Putnam (Creator)
27 likes

Howdy backers,

Hope all is well, and that you’ve all been doing plenty of bicycle based exploring now that summer is arriving!

As a reminder, in the last BeeLine update I was on my way back from China, and we were making tweaks to the minute details of the strap/attachment before we locked down the design files and started tooling. Today, an update on that tweaking and overall timelines:

Victor brought more goodies from Shenzhen last week! He's a bit like Father Christmas
Victor brought more goodies from Shenzhen last week! He's a bit like Father Christmas

Silicone shenanigans

The most challenging part of our physical design to get right is the silicone strap and clasp-style attachment. The strap needs to be the right length and softness to fit on any bike handlebar or stem, and the clasp system needs to be a strong enough hold that it never falls off, but not so strong that it’s a pain to remove.

With things like this, it’s normal to get 90% of the way there by using solid maths and design theory, but the only way to nail that last 10% is to set up a mini version of the production process, and test it, adjust it, test it, adjust it… etc.

Attaching on the left, detaching on the right. Between us we must have done this thousands of times by now!
Attaching on the left, detaching on the right. Between us we must have done this thousands of times by now!

We’ve been going through various cycles of testing/adjusting over the last few weeks using a temporary aluminium tool. This step has taken quite a bit longer than we expected due to a couple of unforeseen issues - I’ve just posted a blog with the details here for those interested. We’re now confident enough to start making the real production tool, with the very fine tuning to be completed once the production tools are ready.

Timelines - the hammer blow

Now for the tough conversation - we were expecting to complete design and start tooling in mid May, putting us on track to ship in late August. Due to the several rounds of extra iterations mentioned above, we’re now around 4 weeks behind that schedule, so in theory this pushes back shipping to late September. There’s a chance we could finish tooling adjustment early and catch up some time given the extra work we have done with the test tool, but we aren’t going to cut any corners. We won’t start production until we’re absolutely happy and confident that we’re delivering a great quality product.

This is obviously an update we didn’t want to have to write, and we’re as disappointed as anyone that we probably won’t be delivering in August as we said we would. That said, ultimately those extra iterations were a necessary and inevitable part of delivering a high quality product - one that you’ll be proud to have supported. On balance, we think this is worth a few weeks wait. We hope you do too.

While we’ve got our sensible hat on, it’s worth pointing out there are still further risks in the process, the biggest ones being the QA and Certification once we’re in preproduction. We’ve allowed plenty of time for those, but there’s always a chance this drags out longer if issues arise. So there’s uncertainty, but I can promise that we’ll keep you up-to-date if anything does crop up.

Happier things - what else are we working on?

Electronics - we now have fully working circuit boards. We’re just optimising at this stage, testing out various versions of components to make sure we have the right combo.

Battery + Circuit Board + Backlight + Display + Touch Buttons + Cover Glass = BeeLine
Battery + Circuit Board + Backlight + Display + Touch Buttons + Cover Glass = BeeLine

Packaging - we just received some samples for the packaging. We’re looking at a ‘paper pop’ type of box, similar material to an egg-box but much higher quality. We’re yet to do the graphic design for the outside of the box, but the samples are feeling great!

Looking forward to jazzing these up with some nice graphic design
Looking forward to jazzing these up with some nice graphic design

Software - Charlie has been busy building algorithms in the firmware to keep our direction arrow super accurate, even with all the magnetic confusion around the city. We’re also finalising all the graphics on the device itself, and we’ve designed a subtle little helper feature for those using waypoints. On the app side, the launch version is designed and Dan is halfway through producing it now. I’m hoping I can send you all the beta to try in my next update (for iPhone only first - sorry Android folks…).

Initial app designs on the left, under the bonnet of the magnetic calibration on the right
Initial app designs on the left, under the bonnet of the magnetic calibration on the right

Once again, sorry this wasn’t all good news, but we think it’ll be worth the wait. Rest assured we’re working around the clock to get you a superb quality product as quickly as possible. Next update will be in a week’s time from Tom, with the latest on investment and other businessy matters.

Best wishes,

Mark

Jack Gamble, Carlos Patino, and 25 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Sean Matheson on

      The number of Android devices outweight iOS devices these days. Would be great if you guys could push towards parallel platform development. Look into technology such as React Native to allow for a shared code base that taps the native components.

    2. Mark Jenner & Tom Putnam 2-time creator on

      @Soltyk - sorry if our plan makes you worried. We have no intention of having any discrepancy in quality between the two apps at the point at which we ship the product. You can hold me to that.

      Cheers! Mark

    3. Soltyk on

      I can comprehend your decision to lead of with iOS in order to minimize costs. It just leaves me worried that we will end up with a second rate Android mockup.
      I guess only time will tell.

    4. Peter Johansson on

      I don't have a problem with the delay. To be honest, I kind of expected it. The delay doesn't feel as bad when you're communicatiing with us. Keep up the good work and deliver a smashing product, when it's ready

    5. Mark Jenner & Tom Putnam 2-time creator on

      @Donovan @Stephanie @Florian - thanks for the support! Really appreciate it. Mark

    6. Mark Jenner & Tom Putnam 2-time creator on

      @Robert - fair question! Primarily, we are developing iOS over Android simply because we have a team member who is an iOS developer, and we don't have an Android developer. It's much easier to do the designing and developing of the app in-house while we're still playing around with how it should look. Once we're happy with it we can contract someone to do the Android without too much backwards and forwards. We've budgeted to do it in this way.

      As a side point, we actually have a majority iOS users in our backer community according to the survey (59%, vs 31% Android), but I won't pretend this influenced the plan.

      We are definitely open to more community input, particularly on the software side. As you can imagine we've been running around like crazy trying to get the hardware design ready for tooling, but I promise we'll be creating opportunities to get the ideas of the community for our product and feature roadmap in the coming months.

      Thanks for the ongoing support, Mark

    7. Missing avatar

      Robert Sanders on

      "On the app side, the launch version is designed and Dan is halfway through producing it now. I’m hoping I can send you all the beta to try in my next update (for iPhone only first - sorry Android folks…)."

      In the top five European markets (U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Spain), Android’s market share increased to over 75%. Why are you developing iOS app over Android app is beyond me.

      In your last update you also suggested you're more open to community input. The surveys were sent and answered but there's no communication from you.

    8. Steph Lee on

      To echo what my fellow backers are saying, delays should be expected (we don't always get it right the first time!). I really appreciate your thoughtful and timely updates. Thanks for all the posts and pictures--it's exciting to be able to be a part of the journey! Keep it up!

    9. Missing avatar

      Florian B. on

      Quality over time always, so I'm not bothered at all with those delays, to be honest I would have been more surprised hadn't there been any hiccups, so don't worry. I think the majority thinks the same way though I won't dare to speak for them.
      Take your time, I'd rather have a high quality product than a rushed one that's delivered on time.
      Thanks for the update.

    10. Missing avatar

      Donovan Walker on

      This looks great! Keep up the good work. I live in a very cold winter climate. Maybe my first ride will help you test ability to work below 30f!

    11. Mark Jenner & Tom Putnam 2-time creator on

      Cheers guys. @Soltyk, apologies, that wasn't very clear. Rather than doing both platforms at the same time, we're doing all the design development on iOS first (as we have an iOS developer) and then Android will follow once we have it right. We will absolutely have both ready by late August, we will just have iOS slightly before Android. Cheers!

    12. Soltyk on

      I don't mind the delay, the competition is much worse in that regard.
      What bothers me is: "sorry Android folks…"
      Could you please elaborate - is there currently any activity going on regarding the Android app? If not, why is this postponed?

    13. Missing avatar

      Dave S (UK) on

      Don't worry about being a bit late. If you deliver before October, for a project as hi tech and with as many different elements, would be an great achievement. Obviously I'd like the device as soon as possible but I want it to be a good as possible so I know which way I'd prefer you to go and that is what you are doing. This is Kickstarter, not Amazon!