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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 - 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

BRAGI UPDATE - what we did over christmas, Las Vegas & CES

241 likes

Dear Backer,

what a christmas! Our last update went out on the 22nd of December, and the last weeks feels like months of work.

Need a system to do systems testing

As you might remember from last update, Marius, Dan and Arne were in China shortly before Christmas. In an amazing sprint, they managed to get plastic parts, electronics and all components made before the holidays.

I picked Marius up from the airport very early on the 23rd and found a tired and sick engineer at the arrivals. He had hand carried all parts to avoid anything getting lost in shipment or luggage handling. Marius refused to go home to rest. He wanted to build a few pairs for the systems verification tests (and himself).

Test results

The right and left Dash worked very well from a electronics point of view. All components became visible fast, and were incredibly stable right from the start.

Bringup of the electronics
Bringup of the electronics

We were very pleased, when we tested tolerances of the mechanics and assembly time. The parts were great only requiring minor modifications.

Sleeves and housing need a few modifications, but we are very happy at this stage.
Sleeves and housing need a few modifications, but we are very happy at this stage.
Lots of sleeves!
Lots of sleeves!

Acoustics in terms of speaker performance is really good. Much better that we hoped for at this stage, and we still have room to improve. Improvements on the microphones for ambient audio is needed, but these require only minor modifications.

Wireless performance

As we wrote in our last mail, the absolutely critical element is wireless performance. We started testing The right Dash, and within a few days there were high-fives all over the office. Absolutely stellar wireless radio performance. Normally any antenna has to be tuned to work well, but here we had an engineering hole in one! 

The right and left Dash wireless antenna are mirrored designs, so the left Dash should perform equally well. So before testing the left Dash we felt confident about the result. But sadly the left Dash didn't perform well. We had 4 times the antenna performance on the right Dash compared to the left Dash. Anything like materials, distance to other materials and many other factors have an impact on the antenna performance, so we continued tuning the antenna setup without much improvement.

We checked through the layout, all components, software settings, but all was as it was supposed to be. Eventually we found the cause of the lower performance on the left. The bluetooth chip needed more shielding to avoid interfering radio waves. 

We started to test with different shielding and antenna modifications, and on the 2nd of January at 3am in the morning we had a solution that worked really well as proof on concept. Nothing we could build in thousands, but good enough for a hand full of Dash prototypes. We were not pleased, fixing the issue required modifications to the physical layout resulting in a delay in the time-plan, but we were relieved to find a solution that looks very promising! Updated timeline is at the end of this mail.

CES

Our plane going to the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas left a few hours after we had made the modifications. Couldn't have come any closer to the deadline, and it had been a huge effort for the entire team to get it to this point. Dan, Arne, Marijo, Anne, Anders and myself jumped onto our flights. Viva Las Vegas!

Arial view of Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Arial view of Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

We had exclusive interviews with Engadget, The Verge and Bloomberg in Las Vegas, and had stellar feedback. Both Engadget and The Verge tried The Dash in person. Press the links above to read the reviews. We also had many of our backers at the show. 

A lot of backers asked about the fit of The Dash. I've made a video of backers testing the fit of The Dash. I have taken every single movie I made with my phone camera, so not just marketing cherry picking here!

#{project_title}'s video poster

A lot of backers, press, partners and resellers came by our booth, and we enjoyed the dialogue hugely. Even though Daniel still is sick recovering at home, it gave us a much needed energy boost to keep going on at this pace. 

On Wednesday the 7th we received a phone call from the CES, notifying us that we were finalists in TWO categories in BEST OF CES (only 15 awards given in total). That was just crazy. Amongst ten thousands of new products The Dash was amongst the best new products out there. On Thursday we received another call, that we had won BOTH!!! categories. 

BEST OF CES 2015 in wearables

BEST OF CES 2015 in health & fitness.

Back at the booth, after having had a few glasses of champange from the CES organisers. Best of CES award are the large crystal balls. Middle award is CES Best of Innovation award, smaller square one is Best Gadget from Digital Times.
Back at the booth, after having had a few glasses of champange from the CES organisers. Best of CES award are the large crystal balls. Middle award is CES Best of Innovation award, smaller square one is Best Gadget from Digital Times.

 Absolutely incredible! 

New timeline

Back to what I hate most. Disappointing you. As mentioned earlier on we need to fix the signal feedback issues on the left dash antenna. We have designed most of the modifications needed, and will start manufacturing modified left Dash electronics on Thursday this week. It takes about 2,5-3 weeks. We will hopefully receive the modified electronics right before our Chinese friends leave for their new year celebrations (19th of February +-1 Week).

Pending that the modifications work as well as they are intended to, we would deliver:

Development backers early March 2015

October shipments in late March early April 2015

November shipments 2nd half April 2015

January shipments in May 2015

The team and I are incredibly sorry to disappoint you. Trust us, we do not enjoy missing our deadlines. We have done our utmost throughout the holidays to keep the schedule, but we need to fix the issues right rather than patching it up. We are sorry for any inconvenience it may have caused!

We will send out a request to update addresses before we ship to anyone. 

Thank you for supporting us,

BRAGI Team and Nikolaj

BRAGI UPDATE - let's get ready to rumble, a lot to be done over Christmas

289 likes

Dear Backer,

the past weeks have been a roller coaster ride. Dan, Marius and Arne have been in China the last 14 days, and are right now on an airplane on their way back to Europe.

Mechanics

BRAGI had ordered injection moulds back in November, and Arne (Head of Design) met with our our suppliers. The first step is called "First out of tool", where Arne inspected and tested the first test runs of production of the mechanical parts.

Arne waiting in anticipation
Arne waiting in anticipation

The injection mould tools are being improved as we speak (all normal process). Some of the improvements are to mask the light ring making it invisible (all black surface), improving surface quality and to UV protect it.

The Dash without masking of the light ring. 20 Cent coin as size reference.
The Dash without masking of the light ring. 20 Cent coin as size reference.

Electronics

Against all odds, Dan and Marius and our suppliers have been stellar, and managed to get our new electronics finished. We have "brought up" The right Dash, and all components seem to work as intended. The left Dash is being "brought up" as we speak. All very exciting.

Marius couldn't wait for a proper bring up, and had to test the device in his hotel room. Not normal process (electrostatics), but he just couldn't wait. He was very pleased to say, that all components reported back just fine. HAPPY Marius!!!
Marius couldn't wait for a proper bring up, and had to test the device in his hotel room. Not normal process (electrostatics), but he just couldn't wait. He was very pleased to say, that all components reported back just fine. HAPPY Marius!!!

 The process is now to verify our software on the platform and test the wireless performance. The critical issue now is to verify that the wireless performance is as good, as our simulations and tests indicated. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to see the test results! If the test results are negative, we will have to redesign the wireless transmission to another technology (known tech but much more expensive), worst case delaying the project with 2-3 months. Let's all hope that the results come back as expected.

TINY!!!

Many have asked us how big the device is. Here you go. The tiny metal part that is below The Dash on the right is the speaker. We have built a tiny computer, that is as fast as a laptop was 15 years ago on an area that is smaller than a 20 cent coin. On top of that, it has 15 individual sensors and 4GB of storage. When I took the picture, I was just amazed about the scale. 

The Dash - amazingly tiny is the answer
The Dash - amazingly tiny is the answer

What is BRAGI really making?

The Dash is all about contextual computing. If you couldn't use any of your senses, even the smartest brain wouldn't be able to learn or understand context or intent. The Dash is a tiny computer with a lot of sensors inside. The tiny computer is NOT allowed to send ANY of your data to a large computer. It has to understand all of it by itself.

In our lab, The Dash can understand if you are walking, running, crawling, breast-swimming, biking and a few other things. In our labs (and for testing purposes only), The Dash tells us by speech what the weather is going to be like in a few hours, when the wearer looks into the sky. When the wearer plays a game on a tablet, the person can look around corners by tilting the head. Functions like these will be implemented after launch by a firmware upgrade (2nd half 2015).

Investors

Without the support of you, we would NEVER have made it this far. No investor wanted to give us funds for this crazy project. We have come this far, just with the funds that you and I invested.

On top of that, the feedback from retailers have been absolutely fantastic, and The Dash will hopefully be a huge success when launched. 

We aim to close a financing round early 2015 (Jan/Feb) to ensure that we can address the commercial opportunities and secure our growth. It is a lengthy and time consuming process that we have been in for some months already. We now have a group of private investors. They have to see if all technology, finances, people etc are as expected before investing. Needless to say, neither I nor the development team will have much of a Christmas break. 

Our Christmas & New Year note :-)

Deeply from my heart, I thank you for giving my team and I the opportunity to work on The Dash. Looking back the last year feels like a decade of experiences. Challenges, success, joy, nervousness, crazy good people and amazing support by our backers.

I just walked through the office, and took a few pictures. Matthias prints your comments, and place them in all kind of different places for everyone to see. 

I have enjoyed 2014 with you. Thank you for making this possible.

Merry christmas and a happy new year from team BRAGI and Nikolaj