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World's First Wireless Smart In Ear Headphones. 1000 Songs. Performance Tracking. Body Sensors. Secure Fit.
Created by

BRAGI LLC.

15,998 backers pledged $3,390,551 to help bring this project to life.

BRAGI UPDATE - Alpha5 & back to China, backer day, on track!

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Dear Backer,

in our last update we reported on good progress with Alpha5 prototypes. Progress is still on target to what we communicated previously.

Alpha 5 & back to China

the Alpha 5 printed circuit boards are expected to start being populated with electronics on Monday. Right now, Eric, Vlad, Arne and Daniel are on their way to China to our contract manufacturer.

Eric and Vlad are going to work on factory hardware and software testing as well as bringing up the Alpha 5 products.

Factory testing is done to ensure that the processes are set up in due time to ensure smooth product introduction to the factory.

We have been testing the current electronics schematic in our offices on our development board, and all looked good.

From a mechanical point of view, Alpha 5 will be built from first out of tool production materials. We have made all plastic and metal injection (MIM) tools necessary for The Dash, and we are looking forward to see the first devices that look like finished product.

Alpha 4 where some parts are rapid prototyped
Alpha 4 where some parts are rapid prototyped

When we receive Alpha 5 back in Munich, we need to do thorough electronics, software, acoustics, algorithm and co-existance tests to ensure a solid product.

If Alpha 5 prooves to be solid, we could go into production of beta products in mid July (and even have some time to spare if another fine tune alpha 6 round if needed).

Backer day

Wednesday was a great day. Torgeir and Jeffrey came in from Bergen, Norway and Houston, USA/(Texas). On top of that 15 others joined in. Edy from Vienna had made a BRAGI cake all night, took the 8AM train, arrived in Munich 3pm, stayed until 9pm and took the night train back to Vienna arriving thursday morning. Amazing commitment!

Tour in our packed offices
Tour in our packed offices

I had the pleasure to tell how it all began, why I quit my previous job to make The Dash, our experiences through Kickstarter and the incredible time we have had building BRAGI and making The Dash.

Anne was hanging in there, while we were "nerding" along
Anne was hanging in there, while we were "nerding" along

We then went on to see our workshop and how The Dash is built. A microscope was needed to see some of the finer details.

It is tiny! (and hidden)
It is tiny! (and hidden)

Arne and Martin were demoing The Dash and the app.

Tap it, and you'll hear sound!
Tap it, and you'll hear sound!
And sound there was.
And sound there was.
The Dash in action
The Dash in action
It's a special feeling. The Dash is incredibly light (around 10gram) and has a great fit.
It's a special feeling. The Dash is incredibly light (around 10gram) and has a great fit.

They all obviously just tested a right Dash, since we have to wait for Alpha 5 to have the solid link between right and left. 

A few comments from our backers (copy pasted from comments section):

Roland Klingesberger: 

@for all I was there too on Wednesday. For me it was an interesting and very impressive visit. They spend about 4 hours with us. They explained how everything started, some background about the initial ideas and what they think and plan in the greater view for the future. 

 I was very surprised that they were very open and explained things about the long term view and the experience they made. For me everything is very promising and I' m confident we'll get a great product in September. I can tell that they work very hard and with all three heartblood to get the thing done. 

@for Bragi Thank's for the the afternoon and evening and it was awesome.

Fabian Göttel: 

I was there too. I was really surprised and amazed how much time every single bragi guy took for us. After nikolay told us how bragi started we continued our tour, splitting up and had intensive talks with the hard working guys. 

My personal highlight was the moment as I experienced the dash. First impression: sound quality is really good and the fit is even better. So I even got more excited and cant await to get my pair of the dash! 

Tldr: Amazing!

John Good:

@all I was there yesterday. We had to sign kind of an NDA and to switch off our phones. But you will get the video from Bragi anyway. 

 What I can say is that it was a really awsome, interesting afternoon and evening. They were receiving us very heartly and speaking very openly about their experiences during development of the product. We got the feeling that everybody at Bragi is working with blood, sweat and tears to bring the Dash to market. And it will be awsome. We were able to test the sound quality and the fit and it looks very promising. The new tech for left device to right device communication is awsome and will make the product even better. 

What impressed me as well is the long term vision Bragi has for the product. The evening closed with a beer at a bar. 

 @Bragi Thank you again for this great opportunity.

We will prepare a video for our next update with some recorded comments too.

Timeline

We are on track to ship:

Developer kits late July/early August

Early bird backers in late August

Rest of backers September.

Shipment time is estimated to 5-10 days with the selected forwarder.

Cross your fingers for a successful Alpha 5 release. I'll make a video for next update showing the device in details.

Regards 

Team BRAGI and Nikolaj

BRAGI UPDATE - status on wireless, bits and pieces, testing - oh yeah, timeline

201 likes

Dear Backer,

in our last update we informed you on the challenge with wireless performance that resulted in a delay.

Wireless performance and Plan C!

As explained in the last update, we had challenges in the ear to ear performance through a wireless bluetooth link. We do still not have a timeline on how to solve that challenge from our supplier, so we have to move full speed ahead on the alternative solution (plan C).

Plan C impact

In order for plan C to work, we had to add an additional antenna into our design. So we have one antenna receiving music and data from a phone, and the other antenna system to transmit between the ears. We designed several different antenna types our system, and found one that works very well from an antenna performance perspective inside our system.

Josef had to modify the internal mechanics to accommodate space for the additional antenna, but luckily we had already left space for it. When we finalised the mechanics back in October last year, we knew, that there was a small risk for this to happen. Long live provisioning for alternatives!!! So only minor modifications were needed.

Our electronics team (Andreas, Karin, Vlad, Eric, Chris and Lisa) have prototyped, created a new schematic (plan of how electronics "talk" with each other"), designed a new layout (how the physical electric traces are placed) for the right and left dash (they are different), made CAM review (computer aided manufacturing) within the last 3 weeks. 

While getting all of that out of the door for our alpha 5 prototype run, they managed to create a new development board with the required modifications too. The development boards were received earlier this week. (Hats of to our supplier!)

Usually we'd take about 6 weeks to do 2 different designs (not even counting the development board in), and I don't even dare to ask them how much evening and weekend time has been spent to pull this one off. But they look tired. Huge applause from me to the team.

Alpha 5 prototypes

The production files for our alpha 5 form factor prototypes have been delivered to our supplier , and we should receive the printed circuit boards in 3 weeks. It will take another week to place the electronics onto the form factor boards. So we should receive the new alpha 5 electronics on the 26th of May for electronic and software bring-up (ensuring that everything works as expected).

This is on time according to the time-plan for delivery starting early September.

Bits

The software is an essential part of The Dash. Needless to say that we've been thrown back, because we had to change essential data communication paths and protocols. The software team had to reroute all data communication between right and left to a different type of connection, and ensure that we aren't loosing data (audio and sensor information) in the process. They should complete the transition by the end of June.

Except for the setback of changing the architecture of the electronics, we are on track having our launch software ready for testing and debugging by mid July.

Pieces

After implementing the modifications needed for the additional antenna, we needed to modify some tools that we already had made, as well as ordering new ones. 

After realising that we had to postpone the delivery due to other reasons, we decided to improve the charging interface between The Dash and The Charger. We already had injection moulding tools made for this, but we saw some challenges in long term mechanical stability that we wanted to correct. This has no impact on delivery of The Dash.

Marius, Josef and Arne have made a beautiful piece of engineering. Enjoy the video of Charger/Dash interaction. The LED's indicate if all pins connect.

#{project_title}'s video poster

Testing

An essential part of delivering a solid product is testing.

We are currently using 8 Rasperry Pi's (small computers) with a custom test software infrastructure. Every time a developer publishes code, a The Dash pair will automatically get a firmware update with the updated code and start a complete test to see if the code works, as well if it degrades previous code.

We are scaling that to 24 pairs of The Dash (48 units) running permanent tests in our climate chamber. 

The climate chamber is shifting temperature from -10C to +50C while also changing humidity. With this, we can do accelerated testing, simulating an entire lifespan in a few weeks/months (depending on what we are testing).

#{project_title}'s video poster

Timeline

We are on track to ship all Kickstarter backers in September.

Early birds will be shipped late August.

Developer kits are on track to be shipped late / July early August.

Now off to a family BBQ in the beautiful Munich spring.

Regards Team BRAGI and Nikolaj

BRAGI UPDATE - status on wireless, supply, timeline and Open House @ BRAGI

Dear Backer,

we were about to receive our Alpha4 prototype electronics shortly after the last update, where the most important issue was to test and optimise wireless performance. No Aprils fool jokes in this update!

Video is 10m long. Everything I say is written below too.

#{project_title}'s video poster

Why is wireless performance so important?

This is a hugely simplified explanation of the situation to give a high level, transparent understanding.

The right and left Dash "speak" to each other by sending music and data wirelessly through a bluetooth wireless link. The wireless signal can't go through the head, so the bluetooth antennas of The Dash are designed to focus the wireless signals behind the head. We have spent significant time and effort to design the antennas. "Standard" antenna design wouldn't even remotely be sufficient. 

Testing wireless radio performance in anechoic chamber (reflection reduced room)
Testing wireless radio performance in anechoic chamber (reflection reduced room)

To design a great antenna, extensive computer simulations and laboratory measurements are made. The antennas are designed to resonate and perform in perfect harmony with the bluetooth chip and the system it is used with. Important specifications of the bluetooth chip are how loud it can "speak" and how well it can "hear". From alpha3 testing back in January, the "speak" performance was great. The "hear" performance wasn't good enough to enable a solid link (a lot of noise in the system). We thought it was because of noise originating from the dash electronics itself, so we spent a lot of effort reducing the noise emitting from the electronics. All those changes were made to Alpha4 electronics prototype that went into production mid January to be received mid March. When we started testing the wireless performance 2 1/2 weeks ago and the "speak" performance was stellar. The "hear" performance had improved, but was still not good enough. We started deep investigative testing of the antenna with an artificial signal generator "simulating" an ideal bluetooth chip in huge detail, and got results showing that something isn't working as expected from our bluetooth chip supplier. 

What is the impact?

In a calm wireless environment (e.g. not a lot of wifi around) the product would work well. As soon as there is more than a few wireless networks, wireless link between the headphones would break up. In any environment where there is a lot of radiated noise, The Dash wouldn't work well.

The sensitivity to noise is caused by the size of our device combined with an issue of the bluetooth chip not performing to specifications provided by the supplier. The manufacturer of our bluetooth chip has provided significant resources to fix the problem, yet not being able to provide a timeline or guidance for a technical fix.

"xxxx" <- place a not very nice word in the x spaces.

This is more than incredibly frustrating. 

We always had 2 alternatives in our backhand (plan C & D) to mitigate risk. While we will continue to pursue a solution with the current bluetooth chip supplier and antenna (Plan A) and to improve the antenna even further (Plan B), a solution is out of our hands. 

We expect 9-12 weeks for an additional prototype production, software and hardware testing after the bluetooth issue has been resolved. We have weekly jour-fix with our supplier to proactively address the issue. We have no influence on solving the issue, and we have received no indication by when it will be solved by our supplier. 

What are the implications of Plan C

As written in the last update, we are committed, capable and have a technological solution (plan C) for finishing The Dash to the specifications presented here on Kickstarter. We will assign significant resources to pursue plan C, to mitigate risk if plan A fails. If plan A evidently fails, we will divert all resources to plan C.

Plan C a significant technology pivot that will cause a delay. 

A significant benefit would be additional battery life to a theoretical 4,5-5 hours while playing back from The Dash embedded music storage. Major disadvantage is only on BRAGI's side. The solution is considerably more expensive to build than plan A.

Timeline of Plan C (manufacturing)

Hardware prototype (Alpha5) by         mid May

Hardware protoype (Alpha6)               first week of July

Developer production run (Beta)         end of July

Pilot production (1000 units/October) last 2 weeks of August

Mass production (2000 units)              second week of September

4000 units                                            third week of September

10000 units                                          fourth week of September

Building The Dash

By the time you will receive The Dash, it will consist of 521 individual pieces put together in a tiny package. This includes plastics, LED's, connectors, stickers, manuals, screws, gaskets, stamped metal, light-guide material, sensors, capacitors, resistors, silicon lenses, 7 pcb's, clips, inductors, magnets, cables, microprocessors, memory chips, fabrics, clips, coils, amplifiers, membranes, filters, level shifters, protection circuits, batteries, packaging, foils etc. from 31 different suppliers.

The Case aluminium housing parts
The Case aluminium housing parts

Every single component has been cost negotiated with suppliers, and the suppliers are selected and awarded this and next week. The product will be produced in China by a contract manufacturer that we have worked with for over a decade. 

Design verification of injection moulds as well as design for manufacturing steps with suppliers
Design verification of injection moulds as well as design for manufacturing steps with suppliers

Everything is set up to push the button. Trust me, I've been dreaming about that day for the last 2 1/2 years!

Injection mould tools

Most of the tools already exist and have been reviewed. We mainly need a few modifications to the existing tools and a few new tools. We are very happy about progress.

Testing of The Dash

Every time a developer releases code to our system, that code has to be tested against our user experience criteria and towards automated tests qualifying that code.

David, Torsten and Toby have been significantly expanding on the capabilities of our testing setup. By the time that we receive Alpha5 prototypes, we will be able to have 50 pairs of The Dash in our test rig, that can be assigned to parallel test routines.

We should be receiving our environmental test chamber (cold/heat and humidity) next week, to perform accelerated lifetime tests on the electronics.

The test setup is done to ensure as few bugs and failures as possible when we launch The Dash. 

BRAGI App

We showed a clickable version of our app a few updates ago. We used the feedback from you to further improve the usability. The app development team (Martin, Luigi, Michi, Arne, Rene and Christian) are working on iOS, Android and Windows Phone versions.

Overview of all individual states of the App
Overview of all individual states of the App

Open house day @ BRAGI

40 people go to work every day in our office in Munich. We all think that we are on to something special, and we would like to share that feeling with the ones that made it possible for us. 

I'd like to invite our backers to our office in Munich, Germany on the 13th of May at 4pm (15 people maximum due to fire regulations) for a tour and a beverage at the local bar. We will not prepare any special demo's (delivery of final product above everything), just give you an overview of our work, see The Dash in real life and be able to chat with our developers.

We will make a small video to be sent as an update after the open house day to share a bit of the experience.

To attend open house day, write a mail to openhouse@bragi.com

Do please only write if you really can attend. We will randomly pick the 15 attendees by 13th of April.

2 incredibly lucky backers

We will randomly pick 2 people from the BRAGI backers who comment "I'd like to meet BRAGI" in the comments of THIS update. 

BRAGI will buy a (return) economy flight ticket and 2 overnight stays in a local hotel for the event on the 13th of May (all other costs are not covered by BRAGI). "I'd like to meet BRAGI" has to be written into the comments and be visible to BRAGI by 4.00pm CET 13th of April 2015 to be acknowledged.

We will announce the winners in the comment section and contact them to arrange flights.

Best regards,

BRAGI TEAM and Nikolaj

BTW, the few who requested a refund have been swiftly processed throughout the last months. 

BRAGI UPDATE - Chinese New Year, Design Verification, Charging Case, more people, timeline

251 likes

Dear Backer,

in our last update, we wrote that we were waiting for the electronics arriving right before Chinese new year.

Frustration and relief

A lot of electronics companies want to have larger production batches made before Chinese New Year, so our printed circuit boards (PCB) arrived too late to have the electronic components fitted to the PCB. Very annoying to have finished prints and not being able to get hold of them.

We were massively frustrated, but it turned out, that we'd been lucky. Through our testing, we found 3 modifications on dimensioning of electronic components, that we needed to implement.

Design Verification Hardware

We will receive the optimised electronics on Monday next week (Thursday back in Munich), so we can proceed with wireless performance testing and design verification of the electronics. Wireless performance testing is now the most critical element of the design of The Dash. As told before, if we will not reach the performance we wanted, we have to spin the design once more.

We have been performing a lot of tests on the biometric sensor implementation (heart rate and oxygen saturation). We have very good results, and Friedrich has signed of the solution. We need to modify tools to implement the changes needed.

The touch surface on The Dash uses infrared light and optical sensors. The outer housing (3 different layers of plastic) of The Dash caused unintended reflections, that reduced the sensitivity. We need to modify tools to implement the changes needed.

We have finalised the design of the acoustic chambers, membranes and interconnects. It is remarkable fine mechanics. When we get the final plastic parts, we will fine tune The Dash. Josef and Dan are quite proud of the solution, and we think that it sounds awesome.

The light guide of the breathing half moon light on The Dash needed optimisation. Josef and Arne have redefined material and light pipes, and need to finalise discussions with our suppliers.

In order to speed up the process, Josef, Daniel, Arne and Karin jumped on a plane to Hong Kong last Friday. Josef and Arne were focusing on discussing and implementing modifications on our injection moulding tools and will return from China next Friday after another review.

Daniel and Karin are working on the new product introduction (NPI) process in China supported by the team back in Munich. We are implementing the exact manufacturing, assembly, testing, quality assurance processes along with our contract manufacturer, when going from prototype to production. All of that has to be in place before being able to starting production. Below video is from inspecting the injection moulds for the silicone sleeves.

#{project_title}'s video poster

Design Verification Software

As told before, our software team has written a BRAGI operating system. It was necessary to enable the product, but it has been a very challenging and time consuming task. The BRAGI OS seems stable (more testing needed), and we are now focusing on ironing out some of the remaining challenges associated with code that we have received from our chip suppliers.

Things are getting solved, but due to the sheer mass of challenges we have not been as fast as intended. The delay of the electronics (due to Chinese new year) was actually very good for the software team. They got the opportunity to focus on details in the deeper parts of the software.

The charging Case

The charging Case was finished a few weeks back. Tooling is being made as we speak. We made a fast visualisation of The Case for you to enjoy. The charging Case aluminium cover slides (towards the right) to expose The Dash. It will recharge The Dash up to 5 times while on the go.

Aluminium case around the charging base. USB connector is on the other side of The Charger
Aluminium case around the charging base. USB connector is on the other side of The Charger

More people

After our successful investment round, we have been able to add 7 more people to our team. 5 of them have started in our software and hardware development team. The added resources were much needed. 

Will BRAGI finish The Dash?

In Barcelona at the Mobile World Convention I met the President of a huge tech company. He is a tech geek at heart, and he confessed that they had tried to build something like The Dash, but with much less functionality. They had failed. Not just on one, but on multiple challenges. 

When I look at the patent applications we are about to file, I'm utterly astonished by the sheer amount of challenges we have overcome in the last 2 years. I must admit that there were times, where I doubted that we would make it. Now it is a matter of time, not a matter of physical impossibility or intellectual shortcomings.

We have the financial means to finish, we have the technical knowledge to finish, we have the team to finish, and we will finish. We are trying to make something completely new in a very challenging form factor. Some of the things we do have never been done before. 

Looking at your response from previous updates, we are incredibly impressed by your understanding for this challenging process. 

Timeline

The timeline is pending finalising design verification late March:

Development backers mid April 2015

October shipments in late April/early May 2015

November shipments 1st half May 2015

January shipments 2nd half May 2015

Pre-Orders from our website in June 2015

We are VERY sorry about the delays. The critical path is now to verify the wireless performance and entire system. Until the entire system is verified, we cannot go from prototype stage to production stage. It is all about having a solid product.

The BRAGI team and Nikolaj wishes all of you a great weekend. 

Let us know by email or in the comments if there is anything we can do for you (except finishing The Dash of cause).

BRAGI UPDATE - The App preview, The Charger, the SDK, BRAGI Funding and Chinese New Year and

147 likes

Dear Backer,

exciting times as delivery and finalisation of the Dash is moving closer.

Bragi APP preview

Martin from the UX team prepared a early demonstrator of the app. 

#{project_title}'s video poster

You will be able to try a clickable demo, that we made early January. You will need to install an app from Pixate to view the basic demo on your smartphone. Looking forward to your response.

Open the link on your smartphone, install Pixate and check it out.

pixt.io/pf6fe615223bb

This is a sneak preview on work in progress. No normal company would ever release anything like this, but we think that you will appreciate being involved in the process. Transitions, fields and UI will change. Macro creation is basic, but you'll get the point. The data visualisation is not complete. We have obviously been developing the apps for quite a while, and the framework is improving. Pixate is a fast way of visualising the basic experience.

The Charger

When we received the mechanical parts, we continued the electro-mechanical integration between The Dash and The Charger. 

Pads enabling charging of The Dash
Pads enabling charging of The Dash

The pads need to connect with spring loaded pins (pogo pins) on The Charger, and needs to do so reliably. The concept was, that neodymium magnets on the charger side would pull The Dash into the charging cradle. Each pogo pin needs be applied 70g of pressure to ensure safe connection. With 5 pins, that amounts to 350g of pressure. So the magnets were calculated to apply 500g of pressure.

Charger electronics development board. Pogo pins are the gold plated pins.
Charger electronics development board. Pogo pins are the gold plated pins.

When we did our first rapid prototyping with the parts received, we saw that the pogo pins (gold plated pins) needed much more force resulting in no or bad connections.

We have come up with a modified magnetic and pogo pin solution that we need to implement with our suppliers. Dan is currently in China to speed that process up.

Software Development Kit (SDK)

Toby and his software team is preparing the first SDK release. It will consist of tools and guidance. We are finalising the development website, where developers can exchange ideas, knowledge and interact with our developers. Toby has a nasty cold, so please excuse the lack of enthusiasm :-)

#{project_title}'s video poster

BRAGI has received additional funding

Creating a company capable of delivering The Dash is a very exciting challenge. Within a very short timeframe, we are not just building a product, but more importantly building a company with the capability of transforming ideas to delightful experiences for our customers.

Building a company requires financial support, and I'm very happy to announce, that we have completed our finance round. On the 29th of January a group of great people signed an investment agreement with BRAGI. The investment enables BRAGI to achieve our goals from a financial point of view.

If we had failed securing additional funds, I would have been forced to let go of a significant part of our team. Needless to say, the pressure on all of us has been huge. I wish to thank my team in public for their commitment and standing by BRAGI even when the outlook was challenging.

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is a huge thing, but it also means that all production is closing down in China for a week. As mentioned in our last update, we needed to improve the layout of the electronics as well as enhance the wireless performance of the left Dash. The process of receiving new printed circuit boards takes about 3-4 weeks, due to the complexity and size of our electronics. We should have received the new electronics tomorrow. Dan is as mentioned in China to ensure delivery of electronics, but it seems that the delivery has been delayed until after Chinese New Year. That sucks! We were eager to continue wireless performance testing. Dan is returning on Friday, and we have not lost all hope, that he will have some of the parts with him when he returns.

We did receive the first out of tool (still needs modifications) of The Leash and The White Dash. The white saturation of the white dash is not yet where it should be.

The White Dash and The Leash
The White Dash and The Leash

Timeline

Until we have definite confirmation that our electronics has been delayed, the timeline remains as communicated at last update:

Development backers            early March 2015

October shipments in            late March early April 2015

November shipments            2nd half April 2015

January shipments in            May 2015

Pre-Orders from our website in May 2015

Thank you for your support,

BRAGI team and Nikolaj