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Alexa enabled, 6 USB charging ports, music playing, smart alarm clock. Meet the Sandman Doppler, the best alarm clock you've ever seen! Preorder now!
Alexa enabled, 6 USB charging ports, music playing, smart alarm clock. Meet the Sandman Doppler, the best alarm clock you've ever seen! Preorder now!
1,218 backers pledged $151,796 to help bring this project to life.

Schedule update and CES Recap!

Posted by Palo Alto Innovation (Creator)
15 likes

Doppler supporters,  

Here we are with another Sandman Doppler update and this one is long and important. So strap in and we will do our best to update you on as much information as we can!

Schedule update

First off and most importantly is the schedule update. We know this is what most of you want and are interested in, so we aren’t going to bury it on the bottom of the update, it goes at the very top! Since we had to do some pretty serious design changes on the Doppler (moving the light sensor and mics, neopixels, and speaker baffles) after the campaign we haven’t opened tooling up nearly as early as we wanted. We did anticipate this would happen to some extent so we budgeted some time for it. That being said, we would have liked to be further along than we are. While it's still possible to hit our previously announced launch date we wanted to readdress the schedule. 

So, what does that mean?

Here is the current updated schedule next to the old one:

Old and new timeline
Old and new timeline

First off, the beta units will be late. No question there. The good news is we have gone through so much DFM (design for manufacturing) and prototyping in the last couple months with our factory’s tooling engineers everyone is very optimistic about the quality of the units we will get from our first parts out of the tools (these are called T1’s). Also, we will have lots of time to work on the software and get things to a better point for our beta users to test when these are ready.

General production will most likely be delayed a month. We are going to try and beat these estimates, but we would like to prepare you for your Doppler being a month or so late.

Why the delay? 

As we noted in previous updates we decided to make some pretty serious changes to the main display, microphones, light sensor and speaker enclosure. This required us to work closely with the factory to redesign the tooling. We went through months of DFM and are now confident we have a design that will require minimal tooling changes once first made. In order to test out our newest design, we went through multiple revisions of prototypes including the current prototypes we showed at CES, which look incredible!

How did we come up with this current schedule?  

We have been discussing the schedule with our partners at our factory for months, but when we met at CES we started to nail down the schedule in a little more detail. A lot of the schedule was contingent on how well the prototypes came out (more on these later, but they came out great). The week after CES we met in person with the CEO of our factory at our office and nailed down the schedule further. Until something changes, the schedule listed above is what we are going to do our best to stick to. Once again if something changes we will let you know.

What’s the next step?  

The next step for the Doppler is to start cutting the steel for the tool! The injection molded parts are made out of giant hunks of steel that have to be cut and milled very precisely to create all of the features of the Doppler. We purchased the steel right before Chinese new year started and once the factories all come back online after the holiday we are going to start cutting. In 30 days or so we will get the T1 samples. These are the first parts to come out of the tool and we can’t wait to see how they look!  

We are sorry for this minor delay and we are working on getting these to you as fast as possible!

Eval boards

Some of our boards
Some of our boards

We are currently working with our 5th revision of the Doppler board design and they are working very well but aren’t quite there. We expect this next revision of the board to be almost production ready. The boards are made in one large panel that has both the button board and the display board in PCB. We can then carefully snap the boards apart when you want to put them into a Sandman body. The 2 boards are currently connected using header wires, but the next rev of the boards will use fine pitch connectors to allow for easier assembly and manufacturability.

Let’s dive into the boards a little further:

The latest rev of the Display board
The latest rev of the Display board

The Display board is responsible for showing the user the time and other dashboard information. The board is broken up into 4 main parts: The light bar, time display, dashboard, and secondary digit areas. In update #11 we discussed the difference between RGB LEDs and neopixels. Well, we decided to do a hybrid approach and have both types of lights on the board. We are confident this is the best solution for this product and are very happy with the quality of the display. The hybrid display uses 104 Neopixels to light up the light bar, main time display, and dashboard along with 20 RGB LEDs to light up the 7 segment part of the display. We could have made neopixels work on the 7 segment part of the display, but the area is just too small for it to work well.

The button board in all it's glory!
The button board in all it's glory!

 

The button board is where the magic happens! The button board uses 12 RGB led’s to light up the buttons allowing them to be visible at night. There are also specially designed pads on the board for a type of button, called a carbon pill switch. Basically, there is a very small disc (called a pill) of highly conductive material on the underside of the buttons. When any of the pills touch the pads on the circuit boards this triggers the switch! The board also has 2 microphones on it which are used for Alexa and a light sensor in between them for automatic brightness adjustment. All of these lights and sensors are controlled by a custom programmed microcontroller that communicates back and forth with the main “brain” of the Doppler, the Chip Pro. The Chip Pro is a full Linux computer and is mounted directly to our circuit board, this is where most of the programming work will go into. Also on the button board is a stereo amplifier for the speakers, and a digital signal processing chip to help the microphones work better.

These circuit boards need a couple small tweaks which we are working on and we hope to release the next revision of the boards in a couple weeks.  

CES 2018 and the prototype we have

The Doppler at CES 2018
The Doppler at CES 2018

CES 2018 was a huge success! We had incredible feedback from almost everyone that stopped by our booth and had some huge wins in the media. We also made some great retail and distribution contacts as well as some strategic partners we will be announcing soon. The best part of the show was meeting two of our backers that stopped by and introduced themselves, seriously guys, thanks.

The Doppler team at CES 2018
The Doppler team at CES 2018

Our booth was pretty small compared to some giants around us, but we had the comfiest couches at the show (as we were told) and encouraged people to stop by, take a break and charge their phone (using a Sandman of course). Next year at CES we are stepping up to a bigger booth and hope to meet some more of you there!

One of our booth neighbors had these giant light up floating balloons. It was amazing.
One of our booth neighbors had these giant light up floating balloons. It was amazing.

We hope you all saw the silly little video we did at the show, well here are some better videos:

What time is it?

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Replay with sound
Play with
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 Super corny jokes

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Play with
sound

The colors change!

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Play with
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It does 12 and 24 hour time!

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Play with
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Adjustable brightness!

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Play with
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And of course, it plays music. 

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Replay with sound
Play with
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What do you want us to ask Alexa? Let us know in the comments!  

Some of our prototype parts
Some of our prototype parts

These prototypes are made out of a couple machined pieces of plastic that were then hand assembled and painted. They were then sprayed with the same soft touch coating that we will be using for the production units. Our guys over at factory did an incredible job on them and they look almost perfect. We now have a bar to aim for with our injection molded parts that will be coming off the tooling, shortly. There are some things we want to improve, mainly with the buttons and the display, but we are confident those can be fixed in production. 

A closeup of the Doppler's silicone buttons
A closeup of the Doppler's silicone buttons

 

The back of the buttons, featuring carbon pills
The back of the buttons, featuring carbon pills

 

The back of the Doppler
The back of the Doppler

 

It's looking great!
It's looking great!

Sandmandoppler.com is live  

While we have been working hard on the engineering side of things we have been working on the website as well! Right before CES we launched sandmandoppler.com and sandmanclocks.com! Both sites are dedicated to one product each and we love how both of them turned out. If you can, please share with your friends! We are also still live on Indiegogo on-demand and are selling pre-orders over there as well. Spread the news! 

Our new Sandman Doppler website
Our new Sandman Doppler website

 

In the next update, we plan on discussing updates to the Software, App, and to Alexa. We can’t wait until all of you guys get your hands on a Doppler and I’m sure you’re going to love it. If you ever have any questions or comments please let us know via Kickstarter, social media or email. Thanks again for your passionate support!

-The PAI team

Loren Thomas, Mike Heck, and 13 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Palo Alto Innovation 3-time creator on

      @Andy The goal is to be able to set an alarm on the app, with your voice via Alexa, and with the physical buttons on the device and have them all synced up and act the same way. That's one of the technical things we are working on now. Hopefully, that answers your question!

    2. Missing avatar

      Andy Richard on

      Will the echo part be able to set an alarm on the Doppler itself or just through Alexa?

    3. Palo Alto Innovation 3-time creator on

      @Matt The hotspots are much less visible in person than on the video, but we agree it’s still way too visible. That’s one of the tweaks that we are confident we can improve in production. So, don’t worry it will improve!

    4. Matt Hydeman on

      The videos showing color intensity and brightness, I'm a little disappointed because in parts of the video, you can definitely see the LEDs behind the display. There are sections that are a bit brighter than others. I would have hoped that even though the board will have specific LEDs to make up the digits, I didn't realize how easy they were going to be seen through the front display. Wouldn't you want something slightly more opaque so that the color and the intensity appear uniform? Right now, it looks like you have hotspots, which behind the display, you obviously do, but I don't think that should be seen by the user, do you?

    5. Mike Heck
      Superbacker
      on

      Thanks for explaining all the work that's happening in the background to reach this point. From experience, I know all about the inevitable delays no matter how hard you plan -- and that the extra time will result in a far better product.

      Naturally, I am just a bit disappointed in the delay of the beta units (and shortened time to provide feedback). However, it sounds like they will be much closer to the shipping units, which is a nice bonus.

      Keep up the good work.

    6. Palo Alto Innovation 3-time creator on

      @Rob, thanks! It will be worth it! We promise!

    7. Palo Alto Innovation 3-time creator on

      @Jakob. We are planning on integrating Spotify into the Doppler. Yes!

      @Ned Thanks! The Doppler will be able to control just about any smart home device your Echo can. The Drop in feature is not currently active for 3rd party Alexa devices (like the Doppler), but we are hoping that Amazon brings that functionality soon. If they add the functionality after the Doppler has shipped we can remotely update the software to add new features!

    8. Rob Alfieri on

      Personally, I’m thrilled that y’all are taking the time to do it right. It is worth waiting for. Thanks for the update.

    9. Missing avatar

      Ned on

      Great update. The Doppler loos awesome so far.

      I currently have a Gen 1 Echo in my bedroom that I can't wait to replace with my Doppler. Can the Doppler control Alexa connected smart home devices (like the TP Link switches my Echo controls now)? Can Doppler use the 'drop in' features of Alexa? I'm hoping yes because then it would be an easy trade out of Echo for Doppler.

    10. Missing avatar

      Jakob Bernard on

      I see the Doppler works with Amazon music but does it also support Spotify?