In the previous update, we showed you the first printed circuit boards. We were working throughout the holidays to solve all issues, and assemble the first functional LaMetric samples.
The first functional samples and more improvements
Fortunately, we had discovered early in the process and solved hardware issues, afterwards we were able to run test firmware on the PCBs.
Several hardware issues that were discovered:
- audio jack wasn’t functional
- light sensor wasn’t functional
- power/reset button wasn’t functional
After some time and effort the issues have been solved, and a detailed report allowed the Foxconn team to fix produced PCBs, so they were able to run test firmware correctly.
Part of the report with PCB fixes
Before producing the first PCBs, the software team has been coding in “semi-blind” mode using development boards, but real PCB components differ from the dev board and we should have adjusted the firmware to work correctly. After several long day-nights, a couple hours to New Year, we managed to make it work.
It’s Alive - CES Facebook Fan Counter finally works several hours till 2015
Fight with the noise
We heard noise when the device was plugged into the mains. You can listen to the noise sound. After investigation and several iterations of selecting the right capacitors, we managed to remove the noise.
Investigation of the noise
Our next obsession is to improve LaMetric audio, provided it fits the size of LaMetric enclosure. At the moment, we are seeking the best speakers that would also fit the enclosure dimensions.
Audio speakers selection
Additionally, the mechanical engineer designed special boxes for speakers to improve the sound.
Box for audio speakers
Improved top buttons design
We weren’t happy enough with mechanics of the top buttons in the last mockup, they were designed as different parts. As a result, gaps of different width between the buttons occur. To control width of the gaps, we decided to merge buttons into one physical part.
Improved top buttons design
Bigger side buttons for all finger sizes
People have different finger sizes. Top buttons work ideally for any fingers, they are big and comfortable to operate. We decided to test how volume and power buttons work in the hands of team members. It was not comfortable enough for people with bigger fingers to push these buttons. We have increased their size, so now they should be comfortable for all backers.
Bigger buttons on the sides
Improved light pipe for auto-brightness mode
Light sensor is incredibly important for LaMetric, it is responsible for auto-brightness mode which makes the screen comfortable for the eyes in the evenings. As we mentioned before, we designed the special light pipe. The purpose of the light pipe is to bring light to the sensor, so it is able to understand when it is day or night and adjust brightness. In the last mockup, it works but not ideally, especially when the light comes from different angles. Mechanical engineer has redesigned the light pipe structure to improve it.
We have ordered the third batch of mockups to check last mechanical improvements described above. Why did we go via so many iterations of mockups? Molds are the most expensive part and it’s impossible to remove the problems when they are produced. We should remove as many risks as possible before producing them. We stick to “measure thrice and cut once” principle because we want to bring you the best quality. We are going to receive “golden” prototype in coming days. After review, we are going to start molds production. Why the mockup is called “golden”? Because it will work as the norm with the last approved mechanical approaches.
LaMetric at CES
After assembling of the first two samples, we headed to International CES 2015. We had a long trip to Las Vegas including flight cancelation due to weather conditions. Finally, we got to our booth at CES and exhibited LaMetric.
LaMetric booth at CES 2015 (Eureka Park for startups)
We met a lot of our backers at CES and showcased LaMetric for them. Thank you to all of you who found the time to visit our booth.
LaMetric backer Mateus is taking interview at CES
People love LaMetric: design, screen, functionality, feelings when you touch or hold the device. We got a lot of interest to the product starting from Samsung and ending with Brookstone.
The last day at CES
New estimated delivery date
Dear backers, the new estimated delivery date is Spring 2015.
We know many of you will be disappointed to hear this, but we hope you’ll agree it’s better to take the time to get everything right now than to risk the worst disappointment of all—a product that doesn’t fully meet all our expectations.
We know that many of you are seasoned Kickstarter backers who have lived through new product “delays” before. But for those who are new to Kickstarter we want to explain more.
When we launched our Kickstarter campaign in June, we were required to state an estimated shipping date. Frankly, picking a date several months in the future with such a complicated and innovative project is not easy. No one is able to predict with certainty how long this process will take. Based on our progress at that point, everyone on the team, along with our manufacturing consultants, agreed that January seemed like a realistic month for shipping.
The good news is that everything is currently going smoothly and we have ordered the long lead time components (some components have 14 weeks lead time) and are moving ahead toward manufacturing and delivery.
There are two approaches how to implement complex and innovative projects:
1)Rush things and create low-quality product
2)Get everything right and try to meet all expectations. Quality always requires more time.
From the beginning, we selected second approach: the best consultants, the best manufacturer in the world, the best software team. We think a lot of our backers implement complex projects and choose the second approach also.
We are currently finalizing details to produce the molds. This is an expensive, one-time process and we have approached it with the abundance of care that it deserves including 3 iterations of expensive mockups to remove as many risks as possible.
We also stick to all advices from Foxconn, because they know how to reach the world class quality. The next phase we are moving to called DVT, we are going to produce 70-80 LaMetric. The goal of the DVT is to perform a lot of tests - climatic tests, environmental tests, mechanical tests, electromagnetic compatibility tests, production line tests, drop tests. At this phase, we are going to go via certification process also. Produced devices will be dedicated for these purposes.
Also, we want to make completely sure that the iOS/Android mobile apps will work seamlessly with LaMetric wherever the owner may be.
If you're new to Kickstarter, you might be interested to read this Kickstarter blog post that explains some reasons why many Kickstarter projects (including the launch of Kickstarter itself) push back their estimated delivery date.
Thanks again for both your support and your patience. As a Kickstarter backer, you made LaMetric possible, we hope you understand how important it is to make LaMetric the best it can possibly be.
We will keep you posted with new exciting updates about the process and progress.
Smart Atoms Team