Kokoon progress update: Development in China
Welcome to the latest Kokoon Project Update (中国深圳) .
In our last update we updated you all on some of the team heading out to China for an extended trip to work through some of our design for manufacture challenges. We also covered where we’re up to with our software development and some changes to the electronics.
Since that update, we now have four members of our UK team out in China, embedded with the factory team. We’ll cover some of the progress in this update and talk through what challenges are still outstanding.
In our update from the end of September we included our goal to begin factory ‘tooling’ in the second half of October. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to begin this process as we are still working through the last of the assembly and finishing challenges (more on this below). This will impact our shipping timescale and as soon as we know the exact impact we’ll look to release an updated schedule.
As ever, we are working towards making sure that our backers receive the best product possible, one that is reliable and works great both on the first day you get it, and well into the future. We are at a crucial stage of development and will not cut corners in the run up to our tooling milestone as this will only introduce risk to the project.
Assembly and Finish Issue progress:
As we mentioned in update #28 ES2 review, we currently have some assembly and quality issues that need addressing. The team in China and our factory team have been fully focused on resolving these over the past weeks and are working through rapid iterations to find reliable solutions.
An example of one issue with the ES2 prototype was the fabric finishing around the end caps. The challenge is that firstly, it was quite difficult to assemble and secondly, once assembled, the end cap and fabric join was not reliable. Whilst this sounds like a relatively minor issue, it is the difference between a high quality durable product and one that begins to wear quickly.
End cap fitting
We have taken some pretty big steps to address these quality issues in the last couple of weeks by working closely with the production and mechanical engineers at our factory, as well as fabric suppliers. Here is the new method:
Sketch doesn’t show all the detail (holes for sensor etc.) -it is intended to illustrate new ‘sock’ assembly
The new method gives a simple assembly step and will mean reliable and high quality finishing in production. We are pleased to be seeing real value from working out here in China with our factory.
We have been able to work more closely with suppliers since we’ve been in China to really understand what is possible regarding the very latest manufacturing techniques. The Kokoon headphone incorporates a lot of fabrics into the design. Many are not that common in consumer electronics products and thus require us working with the most advanced suppliers to achieve a durable, comfortable and flexible product.
Below is an ‘in-mould’ fabric and silicon type part. We now have a comfortable and flexible outer part to our headphone, which is covered in a soft fabric, so this is a big step forward.
‘in-mould fabric’ and silicon type part
In our next sample we are looking to allow the fabric to ‘aesthetically’ cover the small holes (for acoustics) seen just above the thumb holding the sample.
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) / Acoustic tuning work:
The factory’s acoustic engineers have been hard at work doing the latest round of acoustic tuning of the device. We have had some promising results so far with good responses.
Acoustic engineering at the factory
We have also uncovered a weakness with our current prototype in that the outer cushion can sometimes interfere with the inner ‘audio seal’. If the audio seal’s performance is compromised, then the bass response of the device will be poor – having an impact not only on audio quality but also ANC performance. We are addressing the issue by ensuring a greater clearance between the comfort cushion and audio seal. We look forward to bringing you test results as soon as we can.
Project Update (London, UK)
The software team in London have been making steady progress.
This previous 3 weeks have seen them:
+ Add the Accelerometer streaming functionality to headphone firmware
+ Measure and confirm the BLE bandwidth characteristics
+ Extend BLE protocol design to accommodate messages required in electronics production testing
+ XCode8 (Swift 3) library and language updates
The next 2 software sprints will focus on:
+ OverTheAir firmware update (we can change headphone code without disassembling then assembling)
+ Android test application (get the android KAPI up to the standard of the now mature iOS KAPI)
We will update the project timelines when we have reached tooling and have a firm idea of the impact on our predicted timeline.
The good news from a timelines perspective is that once we have got to tooling, starting the remaining steps to shipment should be (relatively) more straightforward and thus easier to estimate our timelines accurately.
We appreciate everyone’s patience and support and you can trust that we are pulling out absolutely every stop to get you your Kokoon’s in hand as soon as possible.
The Kokoon Team 再见！