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The easiest, most reliable way to connect to the internet, anywhere in the world, even when you don’t have electricity
Created by

Ushahidi

1,078 backers pledged $172,107 to help bring this project to life.

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BRCKs Shipped, a Holiday Offer, Nile Expedition video, and v2 Options

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All BRCKs shipped!

We’re so thankful to all of you for your support in helping get the BRCK off the ground. The journey has been long, and we’re happy to say that we’ve shipped out 99% of the v1 BRCKs for Kickstarter backers (custom painted ones are the last to go, and they're almost done too. See below!).

The final BRCKs, Hand-painted and shipping soon!
The final BRCKs, Hand-painted and shipping soon!

Throughout this last year we’ve made significant design changes, tested the device, shipped the device, iterated on both the software and hardware, all to ultimately make the ability to get online in low-infrastructure environments possible.

A Holiday Offer!

Do you have an adventurous loved-one or a gadget-loving family member? Give them a BRCK so they can stay connected in their travels and slow greying hair caused by poor internet connectivity.

Holiday BRCK offer
Holiday BRCK offer

As a thank you to all Kickstarter backers of BRCK who are on the hunt for a last-minute Christmas gift, we’re doing a special where we’ll throw in for free a $20 antenna on your next purchase up until Dec 31. Just go to this page.

Holiday Deal: all BRCKs sold before December 31st will come with a free BRCK antenna!

Have a Merry Connected Christmas!

What’s happening with v2?

A number of you ordered BRCK v2, the next design and concept for what a BRCK should be, which has been slow to come out as we’ve been forced to focus and iterate on the current BRCK v1 so much. If any of you who have a v2 order would rather have a v1 now instead, please email us and we’ll get one shipped to you. However, if you’re willing to wait for the v2, which we’re estimating will be out in late 2015, we think you’ll be extremely happy. While we can’t share too much yet, I can say it’ll be faster, smarter and easier to use than ever.

A BRCK Expedition: EdTech on the Nile

We had a BRCK Expedition to Uganda to explore EdTech in rural African school settings in October. In addition to working with Hackers for Charity, connecting schools around Jinja, and wirelessly controlling underwater robots, we wanted to explore the IoT side of the BRCK. Check out the video to see what happened.

A BRCK Shipping Update (July)

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Hi Backers!

As we promised, BRCKs started to ship on July 17th. I know that you have been anxious and excited about getting your BRCK, trust me when I say that our team is more excited getting it to you.

We started with shipping approximately 50 devices, which would allow us to test out our production line and ensure that our shipping processes were working as expected. This also let us get a few more BRCKs into the wild, getting some quick feedback and realizing there was a fairly annoying firmware problem we needed to fix. Last week the software team worked hard to get that software patch done, and to the factory, and we shipped another 50 devices.

This week, we’re ramping up to another 100 devices shipped, with the plan that if the feedback we’re getting from the initial users is good, that we’ll start shipping in real numbers by the following week.

While this whole process might be slower than we (and you) like, it does ensure that we get properly working devices to everyone. Our efforts are built around the idea that you’ll be a lot happier getting your BRCK (that works correctly) a couple weeks late, rather than one that needs a patch or we have to do a return on with you.

BRCK Forums are Live!

People have started to give feedback and start talking to each other in the BRCK Forums, so please join our online community at BRCK Forums and feel free to add your questions, ideas and comments there too.

BRCK Forums
BRCK Forums

Erik, for the BRCK team.

BRCK: A problem of amps

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Shipping BRCKs

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"Shipping BRCKs", if you say that title out loud, and quickly enough, you’ll know how we feel just about now… :)

First shipments: July 17th

That date above is the most important thing that everyone wants to know. Next week we’ll test the BRCK production line, and ship out the first batch of devices. Finally.

It’s been all quiet on the BRCK front since May as we buckled down on two things; first, making sure the quality of the cases was up to par, and second, using this time to keep improving the software. I can tell you that we’re finally there on both items!

We’re all extremely grateful for your patience, and we’re excited to finally get the BRCK into your hands.

Nairobi Launch

If you’re in Nairobi, we’re having a launch on Wednesday, July 9th at the Sarit Centre. Our partners, Sandstorm, have been kind enough to let us do a “takeover” of their store, and we’ll have BRCKs on display, showing how they can be used for business, personal use, and for connecting to the Internet of Things (IoT).

You’ll have a chance to use BRCKs, a few will walk away with free devices, and you can ask the team any questions you might have.

BRCK testing and other fun stuff:

World Cup live streaming in the African bush last weekend

Steaming the World Cup live, at Lewa Downs last weekend
Steaming the World Cup live, at Lewa Downs last weekend

There seems to be a great need for a reliable internet solution for African schools. We’re working closely with some of the groups in the education vertical in Kenya and Uganda. If you’re doing something in that space, get in touch.

Testing of the BRCK in an “edge-grid” situation last month for the Rhino Charge

BRCK at the Rhino Charge
BRCK at the Rhino Charge

 

We have our new website coming this week, as well as the ability for you to order a BRCK.

Thanks everyone, we'll have more updates shortly.

Erik (for the BRCK team)


Problems, Perseverance, and Patience - A BRCK update

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[Some shots from the factory, building BRCK, this week.]

I know that we weren’t naïve in the early days of BRCK thinking that it would be easy to build an amazing hardware device in Kenya. We couldn’t have been. We aren’t rookies. This isn’t our first rodeo – as the expression goes – and yet we still find ourselves months behind on getting our product shipped. Did we miss something obvious in our planning? Were we unrealistic about our capabilities and capacities? Did we simply have some incredible misfortune?

Honestly, the answer to all of these – at least on some level - is yes.

Sure, Reg and I have experience in bringing hardware products to market. We know the pitfalls of having injection-molded plastics made in China not looking correct. We’ve made small mistakes on board layouts that required last minute hand fixes and reworks. We’ve had suppliers completely drop the ball in meeting their delivery commitments. These things are absolutely normal and expected in designing hardware products - particularly if your entire company sits in the same room as the soldering irons and oscilloscopes.

On the software side, Emmanuel, Wesley, Erik, and I have all brought software systems and products to market. We have sat in the meetings were we suddenly realized that a critical feature/function had been completely overlooked. Participated in the user testing sessions where the look of bewilderment on the face of the tester causes your heart to sink into your stomach. Pushed ourselves through “highly productive” 3 am coding sessions that take hours the next morning to unravel in the clearer light of day. This is the reality of startup software engineering in the age of Android and Flappy Birds – actually I think it has always been this way.

We know these realities. They aren’t foreign or unexpected to us. And yet with every delay or misfortunate turn of events we still all stare at each other in shock and disbelief. We expect things to be different at BRCK. We see ourselves as a rugged and tenacious group of creatures that have our skin thickened by the hot African sun and our eyes steeled to navigating the rocky road ahead. It’s who we are. When we adventured out on BRCK Expedition Turkana we should have seen that this was a harbinger of things to come: trucks breaking down, satellite receivers mysteriously running out of credit, routes getting flooded, and the unlimited supply of things-not-going-as-planned. Sure we got frustrated. At each other. At the circumstances. It’s a natural human reaction. But we never gave up. We didn’t even entertain it in conversation. We all dug deep into the beautiful resource called human spirit and plowed ahead until we reached our goal. Sure we’ll do some things differently on the next expedition, we are fools to not learn from our experiences, but we know that the only thing that really matters in setting off is our collective resolve to persevere and push on towards the mark.

Which brings me back to BRCK. Earlier this week we finally received our delayed set of production plastics from China. They were awful. They looked nothing like the first articles that had previously been sent through or the amazing cast cases that were molded from 3D prints. As we sat and stared at the disfigured hunks of plastic that were meant to hold the product of months of hard work our hearts – once again – sank and we stared at each other in disbelief. Although we briefly entertained proceeding with production using the “ugly” cases, we know that we are flag bearers for engineering and designing products the right way in Africa. While we live in a culture where the standard of craftsmanship is often “good enough” we must be an example for something much higher.

So we are sadly forced to delay our production one more time and ask for patience. Patience from our customers who are eager to get their hands on a BRCK. Patience from our team as we continue the sprint to get BRCK to market. Patience from our backers who have shown so much faith in our vision and the potential for BRCK to be a game changer in the market. It’s a big ask on our part and we don’t make it lightly. We won’t sit back during this time and simply wait. There are many things that we know we can do better on the software and usability side of BRCK. We will continue pushing ahead on making the user experience more intuitive and useful. We will take our handful of ugly BRCKs and put them to the test in as many challenging situations as we can find. We will do everything within our abilities to use this misfortune as an opportunity for making BRCKs better. As painful as it is for us to be in this situation today, I know that at the end of this journey we will look back and be grateful for the additional opportunity to ensure that BRCK really lives up to its full potential as a world-class hardware device from Kenya.

We're working with our case manufacturer to get a new timeline for delivery, which we're expecting to be no more than a few weeks.

We apologize for the delay,

Philip Walton, for the BRCK team