About this project
Make your lights dance to the Music
Backers from Aus / NZ / HK
We got great news. We decided to make the special Aus/NZ/HK version even if we dont reach 500. You all are real troopers. Thank you for making this happen.
Backers from everywhere else (US / EU / SA / Asia)
We got you covered too :). Just select any of the normal pledges and we will ship you the appropriate unit.
CES 2013 Demo
Almond+ was unveiled to a great reception at CES 2013. We were named one of the best startups by VentureBeat. It was also highlighted by Engadget, TechCrunch, PC Mag, CE Pro and others. Here's a brief demo video with DOC BROWN that shows how easily Almond+ works with off the shelf Home Automation devices like door sensors, dimmers & thermostats.
The State of Routers
Ever since the introduction of WiFi more than a decade ago, we have seen great increases in speed thanks to Moore’s law and advances in communications & IC technologies. But strangely the way most of us interact with these WiFi routers hasn’t changed one bit. We still find them intimidating to setup and manage. This is in spite of the fact that some of the largest names in technology such as Apple, Cisco and Netgear have been actively making such routers for over a decade.
All that changed with the introduction of Almond.
Almond: World’s 1st Touchscreen WiFi Router
The original Almond is the world’s first wireless router that can be setup entirely from its built-in touchscreen without the need for a PC or Mac or CD. Technology journalists immediately hailed it as a router for the post-PC era. Its design and ease-of-use were recognized by such illustrious media sites as the New York Times, CNet, CNBC, Ars Technica, and others.
More than a critical success, it proved wildly popular with those who matter most: customers! Within 3 months of its release, Almond beat hundreds of other routers to become the #1 Best Rated Router on Amazon.com. Not bad for a new product from an unknown startup.
Genesis of the Smart home Era
Smartphones have revolutionized what we can do on the go. Although Home Automation technologies have been around for decades, adoption has been slow due to high cost and the lack of integrated products. Thanks to the emergence of always connected smart phones and the app market, there has been growing interest in creating a smarter home. There have been some interesting products such as Philips Hue lightbulbs, LIFX and Smartthings taking advantage of these trends.
Almond+ : One-Box to do it all
Today we have one remote for our TV, one for the DVD player, one for IP media player and another for the set top box. Do we want the same mess of controller boxes to make our homes smart? In a sensible world, the smart home controller would be built into the router itself. That is exactly what we’ve set out to do with Almond+. It is not only one of the fastest routers (1.17 Gb/s) on the planet but also a highly capable smarthome hub.
We’ve chosen ZigBee and Z-Wave so that right out of the box Almond+ supports hundreds of existing sensors in the market.
Almond+ : Exquisite Design
The original Almond has been generally acknowledged to have one of the most elegant industrial designs for a router. We wanted to up the ante with Almond+. In spite of all these cool new things it can do, it still maintains an extremely small footprint. Also it can be wall mounted or table mounted. In the wall mount position you can hide those annoying cables completely out of sight, thanks to its innovative recessed connector design. Surprisingly there isn’t a single other router that can do this today.
And to top it all, we will have 4 exclusive colors just for Kickstarter backers - Pearl White, Sky Blue, Kickstarter Green & Funky Red.
Almond+ : Unprecedented Integration + Unbelievable Price
We looked at the existing home automation technologies - They all require too much fiddling around. Not to mention it costs over $500 to put together a system as capable as Almond+. But that system would comprise several boxes criss-crossed by a rat's nest of wires. Not only would it be messy, but the integration process would be a huge headache for most customers.
On top of integrating all these technologies, we also wanted to make Almond+ very affordable. In the last one year, we went through many hardware and mechanical prototypes to optimize our design and cost.
Forget about the touchscreen, forget about home automation and forget about 802.11ac, you can’t find a decent dual band wireless N router for $99 today
Do more with less.
Current Software Status
As you can see in our CES demo, we have the basic Home Automation functionality working with some sensors. We currently have a basic working UI on the router and the iPhone App. We have yet to start the Android App. Also the UI is not very refined and there are some bugs in our current software. We will be working on improving the UI, bug fixes and additional features in the coming months. Expect to see more videos as we make progress here.
Hardware Production Plan
We have gone through 3 mechanical designs and more than 5 PCB versions to date and are quite comfortable with where we are in the design cycle. Over 90% of the suppliers for Almond+ are the same suppliers behind the original Almond that has been in production for a few months. Most of our suppliers have their factories in Taiwan and China. The OEM factory where we plan to assemble Almond+ also makes WiFi Routers for well-known brands and has monthly manufacturing capacity of over 400,000 routers. We expect to finish Mechanical Tooling by April, Certification by May. Production will start with small quantities in July and ramp up in August.
What is 802.11ac
802.11ac is the latest WiFi standard that provides Gigabit Wireless speeds for the first time. It is also referred to as fifth-generation 5G WiFi. Its about 4x faster than the currently prevalent 802.11n standard.
It is still 100% backwards compatible with older 11a/b/g/n devices. So all your existing WiFi enabled devices will still work with Almond+
It seems Z-Wave is a source of much confusion so we will list all the key information about it in one place
- We cannot integrate all the bands (US, Europe, AU/NZ/HK) into a single unit. This problem is due to the chipset vendor and is out of our control
- So you will only get one of the 3 versions
- We will ship US, Canada, Mexico backers the Z-Wave US version
- We will ship AU/NZ/HK backers the Z-Wave AU/NZ/HK version if we get atleast 500 backers for this version. Otherwise these backers will receive Z-Wave EU version
- We will ship the rest of the world (Europe included) Z-Wave EU version
We want to emphasize again that WiFi and ZigBee do not have such tricky compatibility issues.
- Control settings through Touchscreen or Web Interface
- Gateway, Bridge, Access Point and Range Extender Modes
- 2.4GHz + 5GHz or 2.4GHz Only or 5GHz only
- Wireless Security - Open, WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPA/WPA2-Enterprise
- Multiple SSIDs upto 4 per each band
- VLANs, Port Forwarding, Port Filtering, Firewall, DMZ, QOS
- VPN, Samba Server (USB Storage/Printers)
- DLNA Streaming, UPnP
- Upgrade firmware without needing a PC or Mac
Almond+ : Future Proof Specifications
Its very likely that the next generation computing devices such as iPhone 6, Galaxy S4, iPad 5, etc. will support the faster 802.11ac WiFi. With Almond+ you will be fully equipped to enjoy the faster speeds that come with these devices. Below are the other key specs
- 802.11ac + n Dual Band Concurrent
- 2.4GHz 2x2 MIMO - 300Mbps
- 5GHz 2x2 MIMO - 867 Mbps
- 1+4 Gigabit Ethernet Ports
- 1 USB 2.0
- ZigBee (2.4GHz) <-- Compatible Worldwide
- Z-Wave US, Canada, Mexico (908.42 MHz)
- Z-Wave Europe (868.42 MHz)
- Z-Wave Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong (919.82/921.42MHz)
- 620MHz Processor
- 128MB RAM
- Linux 2.6.30
- 2.8” TFT Touchscreen
Spread the word
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Risks and challenges
Design: We've iterated Almond+'s design multiple times and solved most of its mechanical and electrical issues. We expect to have 1 to 2 more design iterations before going into production to get the best possible yields.
Manufacturing: We've chosen a manufacturer that has a proven track record with top consumer electronics and networking brands and feel strongly we can handle a large initial order without encountering delays.
Supply Chain: Almond+ shares a lot of the components and suppliers used in the original Almond. Our core team has been working with hardware suppliers in Taiwan for many years. During the prototype development we already finalized all of the suppliers and components.
Conclusion: During the design and manufacturing of the original Almond, we learned a great deal about all the things that can go wrong in a highly integrated product. The same team that worked on Almond is now working on Almond+ and we feel confident we can deliver the product on time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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