Version 1 Product Updates
• 4 minutes read
You’ve been waiting a long time for an update and here it is: The first production-grade units have arrived! We’ve received the first set of units back from our manufacturer last week and they look awesome. It’s been a long trip for them, both in physical distance traveled and number of tests survived. These devices has been put through the wringer. With the devices in house, our engineers are busy marrying the devices with the newest firmware and software. It’s great to see all of the devices functioning as described. In the coming weeks, we’ll move beyond pictures and show you some short videos of everything working together in tandem. We think you’ll be happy with what you see.
There are two big takeaways from the pictures you see below. First, we’ve delivered on what we promised in terms of the look and feel of the devices. It’s always disappointing to back a crowdfunding campaign, only to find out that, when the product ships, it barely resembles the sparkling renderings of the early days. We’ve been relentless in making sure that the devices not only look the way that we promised, but function as promised, as well. The wait has been painful, but you’re going to get what you pre-ordered, plain and simple.
Second, notice size difference between the first round of devices pictured over the summer and where we are today. For anyone that has been wondering what happens during the long slog towards mass production, this is the most tangible example. In the case of the base station, the size has been reduced over 40%. Every sensor is smaller and sleeker. It looks great in person and it is going to look great in your home. In a previous post, we mentioned that there isn’t much change day-to-day in the circuit boards. All of the incremental tweaks that happen to the boards are negligible as you see them happening, but add up to a sizable difference over the course of months.
Speaking of day-to-day changes, we’ve received a number of e-mails thanking us for going into detail in our last post about the process we’re going through on a daily basis. In addition to the pictures below, we wanted to give you a quick glimpse of what we’ve been up to the past five weeks.
A day in the life…
Some of the things that our team views as roadblocks, or mundane tests, are actually quite interesting for people outside of the office and we want to bubble more of that type of content to the surface in our posts. This past month has been a perfect example of that. Our team has been working extremely long hours and testing ad nauseum. Each step, individually, is not all that interesting. But, when combined, the effort is pretty amazing.
It starts with the entire team adjusting their work schedule. During the engineering validation (EV) phase, we switched everyone over so that our schedule overlapped half days with our manufacturing team in Asia. This meant that we were at the office from 10 am - 7 pm and then back online from 10 pm - 3 am. (give or take a few hours, mostly give) We use Skype extensively, almost exclusively, to coordinate the day-to-day activities with the project managers. Being able to coordinate over video from thousands of miles away is extremely powerful.
As we progressed from printed circuit boards coming off the line, to the enclosures being created, it was time to start gearing up for in-person work in Asia during assembly. Our electrical engineer, Daniel, flew out to Taiwan for a week and a half as everything was assembled and he worked out as many issues as possible in-person. Almost all of the electrical engineering issues were minor, which was great news and helped us avoid further delays. During the time that Daniel was in Taiwan, the hours got even crazier. Our firmware developer, James, matched his hours in Asia and spent most days and nights covering both timezones.
Every day we received updates as the assembled units were put through various tests to validate each component’s functionality. With Daniel in Taiwan, we were able to fix most issues in real-time, which was invaluable. The end result is that we walked away with a 57 page PDF of issues that were fixed in the process, or changes that will be made to the EE before the next run of units. In most cases, these issues were about moving tiny components minuscule distances (portions of a millimeter). Again, we didn’t come across anything during our tests that made us miss a beat in the manufacturing process.
That’s the real difference between polished prototypes and mass production, though. The initial boards that have been pictured on our blog were always functional. That doesn’t mean they were the product that should end up in your home for the next 20 years. The difference is the 57 pages of tweaks between the functional prototypes and mass production circuit boards. It’s Daniel and James executing on those 57 points that make the difference. That’s why hardware takes so long. But, once the wait is over, it’s also the steps that you’ll appreciate when you have working devices in your home.
Now that we’ve got everything up and running, our focus in these posts is going to be moving from pictures to video. We want to show you Scout in action. We also have the packaging comps in hand, so we’ll be putting details out on that front soon, as well. Stay tuned! These are exciting days at Scout.