Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 14, 2012.

Update #30

Production motoring along!

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A quick update because it’s a flurry of activity at the moment between finalizing and submitting the apps; testing the bulbs on almost every router we can get our hands on; making last minute firmware updates; and gearing up for all the little things you need to think about pre-shipping. Paperwork, logistics, packaging, shipping you name it – it’s the convergence of 12 months hard work and that’s just here in the office!

The real action is happening in Shenzhen, with Marc overseeing all aspects of the manufacturing, and Shane building and programming the end of line test-gear and then flashing the firmware onto thousands of LIFX control boards ready for insertion into the bulbs as they come off the line.

We’re still awaiting our FCC ID too, which is painful, as we need to print that on each and every bulb we send to the US. As you can imagine Uncle Sam closing his doors for 17 days has caused a backlog at FCC HQ, but we’re hopeful we'll have this in the coming days. Will keep you posted on this as soon as we hear something. The FCC ID doesn’t affect international backers. 

In the meantime, I’m off to Shenzhen Sunday with quite a few of LIFX team to get the first fully assembled units from the line; ensure QC standards are at a level we’re comfortable with, and all things going well start the shipping before the month ends. 

Will report back on the exact shipping process for distributing tracking numbers, and some more updates from Shenzhen, including FCC ID numbers, as well as news on the availability of both apps (iOS & Android) when they hit the respective stores. 

LED heads ready to go!
LED heads ready to go!
Power supplies carefully assembled.
Power supplies carefully assembled.
Control boards by the bucketload!
Control boards by the bucketload!
End of line testing. Green to go!
End of line testing. Green to go!
Testing, testing.
Testing, testing.

Update #29

Manufacturing begins!

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Just wanted to let you know the good news that the certification wrestle is over!

All tests are now passed (pending paperwork) and manufacturing has begun! Thousands of heat sinks have been forged this week and Marc is headed to China Thursday to oversee the set-up of the assembly line and installation of the end of line testing gear (more pictures to follow).

This means that as long as the certification paperwork all comes in as we expect and Marc's happy with the end of line testing - assembly begins. I'll be joining Marc in China, so will come back with more photo's of how it's progressing, the exact ex-factory dates; and your tracking numbers. It looks like the bulk of manufacturing and assembly will be complete by late October and then they'll be on their way to you.

In the meantime the apps are complete, and this week has mainly been about bug testing and finalising, and we're submitting the iOS app on Thursday, with the Android app to follow very soon after. The firmware guys are even starting to feel the weight lifted too, with our final internal testing early next week and it's a nice position to be in.

Whilst everyone else on the team has been working hard this week I spent a couple of days with a KBS, who came out to film a story about LIFX for the Korean version of 60 minutes. Unexpected, but fun, and lot of the questions gave me pause for thought on what an incredible year it's been. I'm really grateful for the support and inspiration you guys have been to get us to this point, but we're not done until we get these to you. 


Update #28

Ticking the boxes.

Just wanted to let you know that things are travelling smoothly on the certification and manufacturing front. We’ve since passed the factory’s in-house UL testing which has also been lodged for official lab verification. 

The timeline is now mostly dictated by a third-party certification laboratory: we’re pushing hard that we'll have the official nod of approval in the coming weeks. This could also be sooner, so we'll share this news immediately as it comes to hand. For instance if we have approval by September 30, we hit production, our output ramps up to 7,000 bulbs per week over the first four weeks- allowing us to get everyone’s (long awaited) order out quick smart. Then we're air freighting stock rather than by sea as that cuts wait times down by 4 weeks. It costs us far more, but that's the least we can do to thank-you for your patience!

In the meantime, as we pass their sub-tests, the factory is readying the relevant, individual sub-assemblies for large-scale production e.g. heat sinks, plastic moulding, LED heads. 

On the software front, we’ve been working on functionality to allow direct control of a bulb via it’s own, inbuilt WIFI access point. Previously you’d connect directly to the bulb purely for the setup procedure of getting it to join your home/work WIFI network. This new feature will be handy if you don’t have a WIFI network (for whatever reason), and also gives us the peace of mind of having the ability to issue firmware updates directly from app to bulb. 

Our other task has been ensuring app compatibility with the upcoming iOS 7 release from Apple and getting the apps into the app stores in the coming weeks. We've also started testing the API in a closed beta and will release more widely asap. 

On the business side, we're about to start the retail discussions, as a lot of forward planning goes into this. Of course as backers you'll get the bulbs first, and when the shipping has taken place and feedback has been received we'll go deeper into the retail discussions. For now, it's just making people aware we're close, certification is nearing completion and manufacturing is about to start. Retail is something we'll have to do to challenge the major brands, and it's nice to know retailers really want the product, but we're not letting that distract from the real task at hand... Getting these out to you ASAP!

WIFI and mesh radio test setup in the certification lab’s anechoic chamber 

Huzzah! EMC and Radio tests all in acceptable range. 

The 200 control boards needed for the certification and sample test process.  

 GU10 pre-certification bulb now ready to go, once A21 has passed! 


Update #27

FCC pre-test passed. 70 bulbs on mesh [video].

Hi folks,

Certification marches on, and we’ve happily passed the FCC pre-test. For clarity: FCC testing covers broadcast spectrum issues (wifi, mesh, etc) and UL covers more fundamental electrical safety issues.

The FCC pre-test pass is good news as it means the fancy-pants LIFX control board should sail through the official certification run- a major milestone for the project. The lighting factory has also passed the EMC pre-test and verification process (critical for certification of lighting product sales).  

On Tuesday, Marc flew to Taiwan to oversee the process and grease the bureaucratic gears. A delay in FCC pre-test at this stage would’ve cost us weeks and slowed the UL certification too. We’re relieved we’re through this phase, and this paves a clear path for UL. Overall we’re finding the UL process valuable, as there have been a couple of revisions to the power-supply that have been picked up and should improve the long-term reliability of the product. Revisions like this have certainly kept Marc and the factory R&D team busy until now though. So, whilst all is progressing well, as it stands we’re still awaiting UL but will let you know as soon as we have the certificate on hand.

Part of the testing regime that’s cool to watch is multiple bulb testing. Here’s some video Marc shot at the factory of 70 (!) c-sample bulbs in action. The iOS app sends out the initial command then everything else is automagically taken care of by the mesh network between bulbs. We got all giggly seeing this in action as it totally validates some of the technical work we've poured into the LIFX comms approach (in terms of speed/scalability/reliability)...

Meanwhile, at the LIFX ranch, “Fat Fingers“ Jake has been prepping some helpful videos to populate the support section of the future website. He pretty much insisted we show you one “so that the people may realise the true extent of my creative genius”...

Further, we wanted to clarify some queries around the GU10 progress. All the bulbs are essentially the same fundamental design but with a different form factor and some layout changes to the power supply. The GU10 has been designed and tested and is going through one more power supply iteration at the moment. As soon as we are clear of the current certification process on the A21 we'll proceed full-speed with the GU10 certification. As mentioned previously, we are 100% committed to the GU10 down lights as they're a great addition to the LIFX system. We'll share more news and a video update on these as it comes to hand.

Also- the API / SDK and mobile apps are all in a very good place right now but we figure it makes sense to use the extra time for further polishing. The plan is to release them with enough time before shipping that you’ll have a chance to familiarise yourself.

On a more personal note, I’ve found it pretty fascinating to watch my kids fight over the lighting scheme at home on a fairly regular basis. It’s been a long journey but I suspect things are about to get pretty interesting.


Update #26

Certification, mesh networking and a video update.

Hi folks, 

Thanks for your patience while we've put this update together. It's been a busy few weeks with the certification underway.

As in the last update the CE, UL and FCC are all underway - and so far the only change we've had to make was to an antenna on our control board for FCC which we've since fixed. This doesn't add time to the schedule as it was within the window for UL certification. So on this front we're keeping our fingers crossed as it's the nervous period for us and one we're looking forward to getting through without making too many changes. 

In the meantime we haven't been sitting around idly. Marc and I spent the past month in Shenzhen setting up the end-of-line process. This is the automated process for testing the control boards; installing the firmware; calibrating the colors; inserting the NSA chips (jokes) and turning ordinary bulbs into smart bulbs. 

The other major undertaking for us of late has been getting groups of bulbs performing well across the mesh network. As you'd know, this month is the first month we've had a large number of factory bulbs on hand so we've been heavily testing all aspects of a multi-bulb set-up and ensuring they perform well. 

At first the performance was awful so for the past few weeks Shane, Barney and the team have done an amazing job of getting it to a level of quality we're happy with. Here's a quick video of a multi-bulb set-up in action. 

So we're getting close now. The pieces are all in place and we'll continue to test and improve the performance of the software stack and will be releasing the API soon. In the meantime we're hanging tight on the certification and will keep you updated on the progress. Once this phase is complete we'll have a firm shipping timeline, release the apps and get your bulbs to you! After that, I might take a week off, drink a Pina Colada and get back to some of the retailers that have been stalking my LinkedIN profile ;) 


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