Quick update - we are happy to report that we have figured out the porting issue that we explained in our last update and are moving on. Currently we are testing the software port on the target microcontroller / printed circuit board which will control the various functionalities of Kittyo — and we are waiting to receive the next round of prototypes from our tooling manufacturer. The next steps will include fully testing Kittyo and moving on to the manufacturing process. Resolving the porting issue took longer than we would have liked, but we are pushing hard to stick to the schedule as outlined in our last update.
Thanks again for your support -- we will continue to keep you updated.
We want to tell you how far we’ve come and what we’re still working to address.
Since our last update, we’ve received two rounds of tooling samples (T1 and T2) and have given two rounds of feedback and revisions. In the photos below you can see the T2 samples, both fully assembled and the exploded views. Our factory is currently working on further revisions to perfect the final Kittyo product.
We’re excited that the Kittyo units we’re seeing fully meet our expectations in terms of design esthetics.
We’re also excited that our printed circuit boards (PCBs) are now fully assembled. We have comprehensively tested them and we are amped that they have passed all of our inspections.
At the same time, we’ve been working to address one of the most common risk factors of any technology product: porting the code. This is the process of porting the custom code we’ve written from the development environment to the production microcontroller on the Kittyo printed circuit board. Our engineers have been troubleshooting this for a couple of weeks; making incremental progress every day. We expect to get past this hurdle within the next few days.
Hitting snags and roadblocks like this is frustrating, but it’s a common part of new product development—especially when the product has such complex functionality as Kittyo.
Once we resolve this issue we will begin our comprehensive product testing and move toward a new manufacturing date by the end of next month. Allowing for manufacturing and shipping, we now expect to deliver Kittyo to our Kickstarter backers over a June through July time period.
We’re happy to report on how far we’ve come. And we’re excited that we are now so close to bringing to market a unique product that you, our Kickstarter backers, made possible.
Thanks again for your patience and support.
We hope your 2015 is off to a flying start. Here at Kittyo, we have lots of progress to report.
We are just about complete with the T0 stage of the tooling process—a huge step forward as we move toward a mass manufacturing capability.
Our T0 stage injection molds allow us to create and test the 20+ different manufactured thermoplastic parts that will be assembled for each Kittyo device. In non-technical terms, each injection mold is just like a baking tin in that it allows us to shape each part to the exact specifications required. Please see below for a few photos detailing the complex and painstaking process of creating the custom tooling for Kittyo.
For the past year, we have been using 3D printing and advanced model making techniques for our prototypes. It has been extremely exciting to receive the test runs of some of our injection-molded parts (see photos below). In the next few weeks we’ll receive all of the tooled pieces of our finished product. At this point we’ll be able to do a complete product assembly with the printed circuit board and other components (such as laser, camera, servo motors and wifi module) to see how everything fits together and assess Kittyo’s aesthetics and functionality.
The next stage can be summed up in three words: Testing. Testing. Testing.
Even for long-established manufacturers, the T0 stage of tooling usually requires some degree of tweaking (the next stages being T1, T2, etc.). That’s why we want to make our testing as rigorous as possible so that we are able to make any and all manufacturing refinements as efficiently as possible.
We understand that our Kickstarter backers are anxious to get their hands on Kittyo as soon as possible. (And we love that enthusiasm.) But we do want to get our testing right. Above all, we don’t want to rush to market a product that we haven’t tested and retested as thoroughly as we possibly can.
Because of this testing process—and until we have a much clearer idea of what, if any, tweaks we need to make in our tooling process over the next month —we will have to wait till our next update to give you more specifics on our delivery date.
But, rest assured, things are cooking. And we are getting closer to manufacturing and shipping your Kittyo to you every day.
Thanks again for your support!
Hi Kickstarter –
The holiday season is getting underway and many people may be thinking about ‘winding down,’ spending time with family and friends, and curling up with their cats as the year draws to an end. At Kittyo, we’re doing the exact opposite. We’ll be working flat-out for the next few weeks (although we will allow ourselves a short break for Turkey Day!) as we gear up for our 2015 launch.
In this update, we’ll detail just a few of the things we’re working on:
1) As we mentioned last time, we have ordered the long lead-time parts. This was a crucial step as many of the parts we specified in our design are premium components needed to ensure optimal performance. Many major hardware companies also use these parts in complex processing systems and wireless devices, which means they are in high demand. So it was important for us not just to secure our parts but also to enter into long-term relationships with the suppliers and “book” production time in their factories to guarantee future supply. Placing orders for long lead-time parts now minimizes possible disruptions to our schedule and will help us get your Kittyo to you as quickly as possible.
2) We are now putting in our orders for our printed circuits board (PCB) fabrication. Because there will be more than 200 parts on or connected to our PCBs—including the laser and servos, Wifi, camera, microprocessors/support ICs, resistors, capacitors, wire harnesses/connectors, etc.—this is another crucial step that we absolutely have to get right. We are working diligently with our supply management team to source these parts from all over the world as we ramp up for production.
3) We are now deeply immersed in the process of creating and testing our plastic injection molds (the “tooling”). This is the most important step in making any new hardware product. The custom molds we are creating are unique to Kittyo and designed to produce both the plastic parts that define the stylish exterior and our product’s complex inner workings. Tooling for our project takes a long time as we are fabricating from specially hardened steel. We could have chosen to use mild steel (which is softer and faster and easier to machine) but we decided it was critical to use the best tools in the world to produce our product. After the expert toolmaker creates the computer numerical control (CNC) program that replicates the design concept, a tool and die maker or machinist needs to build each tool one at a time. The tools are cut or milled on a variety of high tech machines including lathes, machining centers, wire EDMs and surface grinders, and then submitted to the quality control department for confirmation. Some of Kittyo’s parts will be molded in standalone molds. Others will be molded in “family tools” which contain the part outline for several elements. Regardless, all will be molded from high quality molding compounds that meet international engineering and safety standards.
With Thanksgiving Day almost upon us here in the US, we’d like to thank you again for your support of Kittyo on Kickstarter. We’re excited by what we’re creating and working hard to get our product to you and your cats in the New Year.