Greetings and apologies for this long overdue update,
Thanks for checking in on our progress with Aurora: the Dream-Enhancing Headband - we are very proud to share that although things have been quiet the last few weeks we've been extremely productive!
Last time, we were awaiting 3D printouts of Aurora's plastic designs for final assembly & verification. We received those designs and everything looked great when we first assembled them:
The screwless design allows the case to be opened and closed relatively easily while remaining secure. Nearly all the specs were on point: our PCB mounting holes were aligned, USB port fit in place and the battery fit snugly inside. its been challenging to get here - from designing the pushbutton just right:
to figuring out how to route our LED light effectively:
But we figured those things out and were happy to see this revision come in nearly perfect. Unfortunately there were just a few minor issues that prevented us from moving ahead and locking in our plastic mold for full production:
1) Our conductive snap buttons install correctly and make good contact with the sensor bands, carrying your brainwave signals directly to our circuitry:
Unfortunately the layout of the snaps was just slightly off from those in our headband, preventing a flush fit with the headband.
2) SD card not accessible without unscrewing the PCB.
3) Small hidden defect near usb port which only became visible once we printed out the design:
Otherwise the entire package looks and functions beautifully:
The necessary design modifications have already been made and the iwinks team eagerly awaits assembly of the final 3D printouts. We expect for this to be the final design revision before we can begin mass production :) Meanwhile we've been preparing our final purchase orders with our manufacturing partners.
We had hoped to be entering full manufacturing by this point, thereby beginning our 3-month countdown to shipment and meeting a December deadline. Unfortunately it looks like we will have just one final minor delay in our timeline. Fortunately, we will be able to afford all costs for full production with room left over for a nice inventory. The challenge will be to stay lean so that proper care can be given to the iwinks cross-platform app, infrastructure and future products.
2 years ago we set out to build the worlds most powerful lucid dreaming wearable device and that is exactly what we have done here. No pivots, no last-minute changes of heart, only exactly what we promised!
We'd like to thank you all once again for your patience as we complete our first product. As you read our updates we hope you keep in mind that none of this would have been possible without support from backers like you, and although we are 2 whole years in to this project, we are more pumped and grateful than ever for the opportunity you have provided us!
Look out for another update in the coming days detailing the technical specifications of the iwinks Sleep Enhancement Platform ;)
Iwinks has been in China this week visiting factories and going over production plans and much good has come from the trip.
Manufacturing the Aurora DreamBand Headstrap
Our CEO visited the factory in Shenzhen that is producing the Aurora Dreamband headstrap. We have been working for over a year on these designs and were very pleased to receive the final production-quality samples.
The built-in brainwave sensors are very comfortable while producing a very high quality EEG signal required for our sleep algorithms. The meeting with our textile group went very well and given the working relationship we have developed it was nice to finally meet face to face!
We ended up spending more time and money on them than we had initially panned for, but we are confident you will understand why when you see and feel them for yourself! We created a mold for the headstrap and will build a few more to speed up mass production.
Overall we are very pleased with these final samples and are 100% ready to place the full mass-production order. We have thousands of Aurora headstraps to build and a 6-week lead time for the straps, so now we are just waiting to receive the invoice from the factory to place that full order!
Verifying the Aurora DreamBand Case Design
During the China trip, Daniel visited some electronics factories to make sure we will be ready to quickly order Aurora once the plastic design is 100% verified. Meanwhile, our California design team has been focused on finalizing Aurora's plastic electronics enclosure which houses our circuitry and battery, attaches to the headstraps and features specially designed LED light ports for light-induced lucid dreams.
As part of the final case design project, our design team has been simulating stress-tests to make sure the case will hold up under pressure.
To verify the latest designs we've been connecting with local 3D printers (via 3dHub - very cool service!) to quickly test our plastic design iterations. Unfortunately, the last few prints have come out slightly warped in key areas, preventing us from verifying critical design items. So to speed things up, we are using a professional agency to create our final plastic prototypes. It will cost a little more (alright more like 5 times as much..) but the end result will be a print that is practically indistinguishable from an injected molded part so we can finally sign off on the design and expedite the process of creating the plastic tool. We should have finalized samples in the next few weeks, and then we can place the order for the plastic tool!
While in China, Daniel has been working with factories to get a good price on the tooling and electronics assembly for the Aurora case which is especially important considering these two items represent the bulk of the manufacturing costs.
And since this is the absolute final step before we can begin mass production we are very excited to get it done! We are happy to report that there are still no circuit-related issues with our circuit board design! We have been developing firmware on the boards and are confident that these designs are truly ready to mass produce and are making preparations now to place that order and have the circuits assembled around the same time the headstraps are being shipped to us.
So at this point the plastic is really all that is left before we can assemble the thousands of Aurora Dreambands and begin shipping to you!
Finally, We are still polishing off the alpha tester version of our iOS app, and we will talk more about that in the next update! We plan to invite some of our active backers (Hi Manoko!) to help give us feedback about the user experience. The app is currently a stand-alone dream journaling app and as we finish the Aurora firmware and BLE communication protocol, we will begin to introduce the Aurora features as we are beta testing with you all.
Speaking of beta testing, we are currently putting together the documentation necessary to carry out our initial round of tests. Users of the Aurora so far have either been highly technically savvy individuals or have been trained first-hand by us, however with their feedback we have been making the Aurora easier to use and putting together a manual that should allow even the most inexperienced users to get the most out of Aurora. Additionally, we are working on simple Windows and OSX desktop apps that will allow easy firmware upgrading of Aurora so we can quickly address any bugs that arise during beta tests.
It is really quite exciting to see all the pieces come together and moving at warp speed! We are truly at the home stretch now and promise to keep working harder than ever until we ship Aurora. All we ask in return is that you please share our new website on social media and keep talking about us with your friends to help us finish strong!! We have more news on the way, so until then..
As part of our continued efforts to finalize Aurora's mass production channels, our team will be meeting with our factory in Shenzhen this weekend. The factory has been producing our sensor-headstraps (pictured below) and we will be going over the final details to make sure production of our thousands of Aurora dream enhancing-headbands is truly ready for primetime. We have already created small batches of our headstraps and are focusing our efforts on quality control. We want to make sure the product we ship to you holds up to our insanely high standard of excellence.
As Aurora's headstrap production is finalized, we are focused on completing the plastic electronics enclosures, since essentially once the plastic mold is created, our delivery date estimates become concrete.
In our last few updates we talked about that progress and we are making great headway towards placing that mold order. Part of our design challenge has been to collect accurate sleep biometrics, safely direct LED light into the eyes as you dream to induce lucid dreams, and to keep everything as small and light as possible. The Dream Light problem was the last one to be solved; we created a small reflective plastic part which sits in front of our LEDs and reflects the light back to the eyes.
When we assembled the most recent case design, we noticed a few high-level design flaws and fixes which would simplify assembly. So we implemented all of these design hotfixes and are now awaiting new 3D prints to assemble and test along with our circuits and batteries. Our manufacturing partners have been doing a great job with all of this and we are doing everything in our power to expedite the overall process.
We will continue this rapid design iterations & testing process until we are sure that our plastic models are %100 ready to be turned into molds, because at that point there will be no turning back :)We are so excited to be at this transitional state in our kickstarter project's history and want to thank you all once more for your unparalleled support and patiently seeing this project through to the end!
BRAND NEW LOOK
Finally, we are pleased to share one last thing. Since the beginning of the year, we developed a wonderful relationship with a group of design experts in San Diego who have generously helped us rethink the iwinks identity. Today we are so pleased to share with you the culmination of that effort - a brand new look and feel for iwinks.
In our last update we announced that we are finally nearing completion of the Aurora's enclosure design. We'd like to clarify that all modifications to our earlier enclosure designs have been necessary to fit our finalized PCB design, and that we used the opportunity to ensure Aurora's LED light delivery during dreams met our insanely high standards.
As part of the verification process for the final case design, we ordered 3D prints to be made using a high-quality SLA printer. Here is an exploded view of all the pieces:
The parts arrived over the weekend, however there was one unfortunate setback. During transit the front enclosure piece was exposed to too much heat and warped significantly - enough to make it impossible to fully assemble the unit.
Fortunately, the rest of the pieces were largely unaffected and so we were able to verify that much of the build is right on target. We did notice a few minor issues preventing easy assembly - for example the SD card was obstructing our pushbutton - and are already implementing those minor hotfixes now while preparing to 3D print what we hope to be our final case design!
We were very happy to see our Dream Light lenses functioning as we had anticipated - shining brightly through the back of the case and over each eye. It has been a difficult design challenge but are proud to share that our final design accomplishes the objective of non-invasive light delivery rather well!
As mentioned in previous updates, creating the mold represents the longest lead time so we are working nights and weekends in order to finish as quickly as possible and minimize further delay. However, creating the mold represents one of the single most expensive aspects of the project which is why we must painstakingly verify the design before we place the order.
As soon as we see the entire build assembled and functional we will be placing our mass order and begin the injection molding process. And as our primary stakeholders we apologize for not doing a great job keeping you updated on our progress. We will continue to work hard and keep you informed.
We would like to thank everyone again for their humbling patience and understanding throughout this incredibly long and exciting journey. We have sacrificed many hours of sleep to get where we are today, but are now more confident than ever that it will all be worth it for the dreams to come. We will be working hard to stay in more frequent touch so stay tuned for new updates! For now, its back to work!
we are very sorry for the recent radio silence. Over a year ago you chose us to represent your interests in exploring the revolutionary crowdfunded space of connected dream exploration. Together, we set out to build a device ahead of its time - a sleep-sensing headband designed to enhance dreams!
We feel terrible that we've let you down a few times by providing ship dates prematurely that we were unable to fulfill. We know it makes us look unprofessional, however we've got one shot at this and need to do it right the first time. We are going to make it up to you by delivering some substantial updates moving forward - beginning today!
We're are truly in a transitionary period in the iwinks labs. Now that our circuit boards are completed, we are placing batch orders to test our molds and supply chain for mass production. Check out the assembled circuit boards below - they will be used to build the Aurora Dreamband Beta units for our Master Developer and Founder Level backers!!
While we have become experts of building Aurora Dreamband in the lab, we quickly learned that mass-producing thousands of brain-sensing headbands is a different beast altogether. So, to do this effectively without compromising on quality, we have been working with manufacturing teams to create manufacturing molds for each of the 3 principal components which make up the Aurora Dreamband:
1) Hypoallergenic headstrap with soft, plush silver sensors
2) Circuit board with cutting edge sleep tracking and dream enhancement technology
3) Enclosure to house the PCB + Battery, and attaches to the headstrap
We've come a long way in finalizing the designs and molds for each component since our last update:
1) Hypoallergenic headstrap with soft, plush silver sensors
Mold: Finished, awaiting verification
We received our first small batch order of headstraps from our factory last week and verified that the mold design is ready for production!
We are awaiting a final set of confirmation samples to be tested with the rest of the build (below)! We will then place the full manufacturing order for the headstraps!
We recently placed our first batch order for 100 PCBs and have begun assembling them to build the first few early production units. We intend to use these boards to fulfill the beta units owed to our Master and Founder-Level backers.
We have already begun sourcing and ordering components at larger quantities to prepare for our full production order. If the enclosures (below) passes our inspection we will be ready to assemble the full unit, test, and then ship our beta units to our higher-level backers!
3) Enclosure - houses our circuit board and detaches from our headstrap sensors for easy cleaning & maintenance.
Design: In our last update we were finalizing this design with the following design objectives:
move the lights away from the center to maintain independent eye stimulus
curve the back of the unit to match human forehead curvature
stay true to the original design and clean up unnecessary angles and cuts
given this feedback, we had our design group create the final concept mockups using our final PCB layout (design subject to change):
Out of all the mockups, "Sleek" was our favorite and we decided to move forward to a 3D design.
According to our earlier tests, we knew the lights should be focused more towards the back of the case, closer to the eyes. So we spent some time focusing on this problem while trying to minimizing unnecessary bulk.
Our design team spent some long hours finalizing those changes last week. We are very excited to receive the first 3D-printed test cases for our final design in the next few days! We will be focused on assembling the units in the lab and getting a final round of feedback before we create the final confirmation samples and place our final production order!
Hard tooling - the last major hurdle
Now that the circuit boards are ready to be mass-produced, the hard tool is our longest manufacturing lead time. It will take 6 weeks to create the tool, then another 6 weeks to create our thousands of plastic cases using that tool. We dont want to delay shipment any longer so once we verify our case design from lab tests we will be placing the hard tool order.
And we are doing everything in our power to avoid further delays - during the weeks of hard-tool lead-time we will be focused on having all the other components in our labs ready for assembly, so that when we do receive the cases from our factories we will only be a matter of days from shipping!
Since our progress on the case is the limiting factor for creating a final production schedule, it therefore determines the earliest possible ship date for Aurora. We have offered production timelines prematurely in the past and are choosing to wait until we have a secure timeline before sharing it and creating expectations we cannot fulfill.
Final Production Schedule: T.B.D. by enclosure progress, currently est. 3-4 months
Commitment to Excellence
The progress we've made on Aurora reflects our strong commitment to engineering excellence: we are embedding a precision sleep-tracking algorithm into a wearable device and to our knowledge, this has never been done before in a consumer device! We decided to do this by listening to our community during our kickstarter campaign, and while it did set us back in our ship date, it was the best possible strategic pivot we could have made to ensure the longevity of Aurora Dreamband and any future iwinks devices to come.
At this point the bulk of the final work is in the hands of our MFG partners, so we ask that you please be patient with us as we finish the last few steps correctly. We promise you will have your Aurora before you know it!
Help Us Finish Strong! Please Share this Update!
You can help by continuing to SHARE our posts and talk to your friends about us! These efforts directly affect preorder sales which allow us to move forward quickly as we finish the last few steps. Every share counts!
Thanks again for your patience while we finish the preparations for manufacturing. We have some big updates coming soon about our new website, alpha app release and more!