Neptune dispatch May 31st.
Several backers have asked for clarification on CDMA and NFC.
- CDMA backers will automatically be switched to GSM (unless requesting a refund).
- 8GB NFC backers will automatically be switched to 32GB (unless requesting a refund).
We’re still waiting for final FCC approval but have seen some movement this week. Continue reading for a detailed explanation of the obstacles we’ve been confronting and the work done to overcome them.
Here’s a brief summary of what usually happens in order to get an FCC certification:
1. An FCC-accredited lab runs all the tests as per FCC’s guidelines and produces a lab report listing test results.
2. The lab then sends the report to a Telecommunications Certification Body (TCB).
3. The TCB then reviews the test results and compares them to FCC guidelines. If all the results are compliant, then the TCB approves the device and thus the device becomes FCC certified.
This entire process usually takes no longer than 6 weeks. However, because the Pine is the first cellular-enabled smartwatch on the market; and because the Pine is easily removable from its wristband, the FCC was not prepared with an appropriate set of guidelines for this new product category. Therefore, this is what happened in our case:
1. In December 2013, Neptune hired an FCC-accredited lab in order to commence the FCC certification process.
2. After a few weeks, the lab realized that there were no set guidelines from the FCC for a device like the Pine; specifically because of the removability feature. (Usual smartwatches or other wearables are not removable from the wristband; this enables the Pine to be worn as necklace, which makes it potentially closer to vital body parts such as the heart).
3. On January 7, the lab sent a KDB inquiry to the FCC in order to inquire about testing guidelines for the Pine, specifically concerning SAR (Specific Absorption Rate).
4. On January 23, the FCC responded with a decision to have the Pine tested at 0mm (direct contact) with 1 gram of body tissue for the SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) compliance test. However, no cellular-enabled device, including the Pine or any conventional smartphone, could possibly pass these testing conditions.
5. We immediately demanded that the SAR test distance should be no different from a conventional smartphone (10mm); as when the Pine is removed from the wristband, it technically is a smartphone.
6. On February 20, the FCC demanded that in order to provide us with more specific guidance regarding SAR compliance, they would need more information from us; and would like to examine samples of the product if possible.
7. Therefore, on February 26, Simon went to Columbia, MD, where the FCC’s OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) laboratory division is located; bringing prototypes with him and trying to negotiate a larger test distance.
8. After two months of back and forth, on April 18, the FCC finally agreed to augment the SAR test distance to 2mm.
9. The lab then quickly completed all the tests as per FCC’s new guidelines and produced a lab report.
10. This lab report was recently submitted to a TCB, in order to have approval and finally receive FCC certification.
11. However, we’ve just learned that we need to go through the Permit But Ask (PBA) procedure. This procedure is intended to further extend the types of devices that are acceptable for issuance of a grant by a TCB, but allow FCC oversight for those types of devices that are not sufficiently technically “mature” for TCB approval. TCBs may approve devices on PBA procedure, but must obtain FCC guidance prior to approval.
12. The TCB is therefore currently waiting for the FCC’s reply on the PBA. We anticipate this to be done within the next few weeks.
We hope this clarifies why it has taken so long for us to receive FCC approval. It shouldn't take long from now on though, as we are really close to getting certification at last!
We’re continuing to experience issues with the waterproofing compounds we’re testing. We’re currently working to educate the manufacturer on the proper application process for NeverWet. The number of micro-connectors and tiny surface mount components, makes this procedure quite complicated but we remain hopeful. Once this procedure if finalized, we’re ready to begin final assembly and packaging. [NeverWet is known for it’s viral video showing its hydrophobic properties.]
As we approach delivery, we need to have a final count of backers, so we’re shutting down our refund offer. If you would like a refund, the deadline to email your request is Monday, June 6th. After the 6th you’re either in or you’re out. We processed only about 20% of the refunds this week but hope to complete the remaining ones over the next week. (We apologize again for the delay.)