Kokoon January update – Testing and schedule update
Happy New Year and welcome to another Kokoon update. In our last update we showed you testing on our first off tooled headphones and also unfortunately highlighted some testing failures.
As promised, this time, we will be looking at how we have progressed since then with retesting, addressing the failures, further quality control refinements, as well as sharing an exciting first look at the special edition headphones we have produced. We’ve also included an updated schedule based on latest factory estimates given the developments over December.
Many of you have been asking for new photos of the headphones and this time we’ve included a few. Please note, these are taken in the factory or our office and often using iPhone cameras. We apologise for them not being the best quality!
In the image above you can see one of our white mass produced units, along with the case. Please note that there is still a little work to do on the case. We are finalising some of the details with our suppliers around the logo in particular.
We are working on having some new professional pictures taken of all three headphones as soon as possible. When we have those images we will of course share them here.
As mentioned in the last update, ‘pre-scans’ or ‘pre-compliance tests’ are completed to give a team a high confidence level before committing to the formal certification testing process. We reported in the last updated that we had failures for RF and ESD pre-compliance tests.
We are pleased to report that we have now passed all the pre-compliance tests, which is great news! Thanks to the hard work from our firmware and electronics teams over the holiday period, we are now in a position to submit the headphones for formal testing with confidence.
We fixed the RF issues by ‘softening’ the edges or our high-speed clock lines (digital audio clock) and, as you can see from the graph above, we are now comfortably within acceptable limits.
We fixed the ESD issues by updating our firmware. The firmware now handles ‘spurious’ resets of key processing units within our electronics system. This means that no user interventions are required in order that the system recovers to its state before the ESD strike hit. In a real life case this would mean, for example, if a user was listening to audio over Bluetooth when an ESD strike hit, then the system would recover to continue playing audio over Bluetooth, without the user having to press any buttons on the handset or headphone.
Following previous updates, we continue to iterate and improve the mass manufacture process. In testing our tools and production line we have identified various elements that need to be adjusted to ensure the premium look and feel of the headphones.
Above, you can see a side by side photo showing improved end caps. The new plastics are seen on the headphone to the left in the picture. The texturing of the plastic creates a less shiny aesthetic and also a softer feeling to the touch.
Further adjustments have also been made including:
- Improving the colour matching between different fabrics
- Increased the ‘hardness’ of the buttons to give a better feel
- Improved the way silicon is applied to the underside of the headband to increase grip
We are also working to resolve some cooling marks which have been occurring in our off tooled units.
As you can see from the photo above, our tools are leaving marks on our final parts. These are due to the cooling rates of different parts of the plastic, at different thicknesses. To resolve this we’re making small modifications to our tools and changing machine settings. We are also working on ensuring the extension arms move with a consistent amount of force. After reviewing the variability in the parts the tool has been producing, we are completing some adjustments with our supplier to ensure consistency.
Audio seal refinement
Acoustic systems require air-tight component joining. This is always a tricky part of audio product design and development, as plastic components have imprecise tolerances meaning that a sealing component is required which adds complexity to assembly. With Kokoon’s ‘low-profile’ ear-cups Kokoon required a custom audio seal solution.
As we ramped up volumes in our testing we identified that our solution was proving complex to assemble and thus leading to poor functionality pass rates. The team have looked into this challenge and have identified a way to work improving the design and assembly process using an assembly jig to get the yield rates to the level we require
As we mentioned in the beginning of our update, we have unfortunately recently received disappointing news from the factory with regards to our schedule. Due to the final adjustments which remain outstanding, and the extra time required to pass all of our additional testing, we will not be able to ship this month as anticipated.
Under normal circumstances, these final tweaks are relatively minor adjustments, which should result in a small setback in our schedule. Unfortunately, however, due to Chinese New Year fast approaching and work in China beginning to slow ahead of the holidays, our factory and toolers are unable to implement changes in time to begin manufacturing before the holidays. The Chinese New Year period then means our factory (like all other factories in China) has the majority of February off then must re-recruit staff and get back up to speed over March. Realistically, this means that to implement changes, produce new test units and complete external testing; we will not be able to begin shipping units to backers until April.
We’re sorry for this latest schedule slip, this has been very frustrating for us in the team, as we can also appreciate it is for our backers. Whilst we are disappointed these issues are take longer than usual to resolve, we will have extra time to more robustly test in the wild and further refine software to ensure the product you receive is of the quality you’d expect.
The Kokoon Team