First look at pre-production nightbuds samples! (plus a production and app update)
Welcome to another nightbuds update. We hope you’re all doing well! It’s been an exciting month for Kokoon, with our latest round of samples arriving and sleep testing beginning again in earnest. Our app, MyKokoon, has also really begun to come to life, as the team move into beta testing with our backers.
In our last update, we looked at our first sample built with off tooled parts, which we received ahead of our factory’s closure for Chinese New Year. During the factory’s closure, our team took the time to fully evaluate this first sample and detail any findings for the factory. Since their reopening, this has been translated into tooling modifications which to improve the manufacturing process and the parts being produced.
While this took a little longer than hoped, there has only been a small impact to the overall schedule. We had originally planned to begin mass manufacture in late April, however with tooling modifications, we have now planned for mass manufacture to start in early May.
We have now received a full run of pre-production nightbuds, with 40 samples being received by the team here in the UK at the end of February. These samples are what we refer to as EVT samples - Engineering Validation Test samples. These samples have been undergoing extensive testing in house over the past few weeks, to ensure they meet our specifications and quality criteria. We have also recently sent out a number of them to our Beta community to help with both app and hardware testing.
One of our EVT Samples, with accessories
Range of silicone earbud sizes
Sample from above
These samples were the first that had PPG sensors included, which passed all of our production tests (i.e. working from an electronics/hardware perspective). This meant that when we received these units in the UK we immediately started testing our firmware. Unfortunately there was a difference in behaviour between the new samples and our development board - but after a few days we got to the root cause (cross-talk between the audio and PPG circuitry) we fixed the issue.
The PPG sensor
From another angle. Note the plastic fit which needs improving
The samples have a few cosmetic issues - you’ll note the colour of the bud is not quite right, the logo is not there yet, and some fine tuning needs to be done around the fabric, cable lay and how some of the parts fit together, but thankfully these are all minor issues which we are already working through with the factory. Issues such as these are also quite normal and to be expected at this stage, and so should not impact the schedule as we had already allowed for time for these tweaks in our initial plan.
We’ve started sleep testing in these new versions in the last few weeks and are loving them. They’re so secure on the head that we've been running an internal “headbanger challenge” to see if anyone can shake them off - incredibly NightBuds are still undefeated despite some pretty wild efforts to some lively tunes!
In other manufacturing news, we have also moved ahead with both packaging and accessories, with initial samples having now been reviewed and feedback sent to the factory. We are now waiting on the next round of samples to arrive with the team in the UK for review.
Over the past year, conversations about sleep have increased as people struggled amidst the global pandemic to get a good night’s rest. It’s been an interesting context in which to develop a sleep solution as the global community is faced with a brand new set of norms, lifestyle adaptations and problems to navigate. Whilst ‘a racing mind’ is a common cause of difficulty falling asleep, trouble managing a work/rest environment at home, less exposure to natural light from lockdown, or misaligned routines with one’s natural circadian rhythms are high impact sleep-zappers which aren’t likely to disappear overnight.
How, as a team , do we prioritise and manage the needs of our users - old, and new? Broadly we can categorise user problems into three groups:
- Active problems (things members need and want)
- Perceived problems (things members might want, but not necessarily need from a scientific point of view)
- Passive (things members need from best practice, but won’t necessarily want)
What a user wants might not necessarily align with the advice of a sleep specialist.
Similarly, what a sleep specialist might advise could be misaligned or unattractive to a users lifestyle.
We want to create something that’s enjoyable to use, but also uses the best science out there to truly help members with their sleep.
We make decisions every day to create this balance. And with the first nightbuds samples now in hand, we can now test and see how that balance has been found. With our first nightbuds samples having arrived and been tested by our team, we’ve invited 15 of our Beta members to trial MyKokoon with early samples of nightbuds as part of a contextual enquiry, or diary study.
Diary studies are a popular research tool designed to understand how customers really use a product ‘in the wild’, as opposed to in hypothetical or test conditions. It helps us to look beyond functionality and features and understand the context within which our headphones need to fit, with a focus on how we can improve the lives of members, rather than the size or colour of a button. Is it enjoyable to use? Does it make bedtime enjoyable? And how does it “work”...? We’re looking forward to finding out.
We’re fortunate to have received a large volume of volunteers from our member community eager to support in trialling the app in its early stages. Now that we have launched Beta in the contextual enquiry, over the next few weeks we’ll be reaching out to more of those who’ve signed up to Beta, with invitations to download the app. We hope that gradually expanding access in this way will capture any underlying usability issues or bugs early from a smaller set of members, with App stability can grow in tandem with its user base.
It’s an incredibly busy time as we bring our software and hardware together, and we can’t wait to share more with you. But for now, that ends our update. Let us know what you think with your comments.
You can connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, or our Community Board. Our Board was designed for you to request new content or features, comment on ideas from other members or just see what we are up to.
If you know someone who didn’t get around to backing us on Kickstarter, make sure to tell them we are currently live on Indiegogo!
Thank you once again! Till next time,