Production Plan, App Development & PCB Getting Smaller
Updated: Jun 30, 2020
Dear Backers, time for another update.
We've made a few changes that on one hand required a step back, but on the other hand will make the BruxRelief device better. This will delay things a bit and change the way in which we roll BruxRelief out, but we're still shooting for a June release. I will explain the background, decisions and plan below.
Last update, I discussed that while developing the UX for the BruxRelief app, we realized there would be a critical 'non-intuitive' flaw in the user experience if we continued with our design plans at that time.
The flaw? When the user puts on the device, we'd like the user to be able to calibrate the unit for sensitivity of bruxism detection and also be able to calibrate the intensity of the behavioral tracking response (vibration). Great right? Well, our original plan was to maximize battery life, take the bluetooth out of the device and put the bluetooth functionality into a docking station. The user would connect with their smartphone to the docking station where they could download their wellness data and also calibrate and upload any adjustment they wanted to make to their wellness experience while the device was docked. Ehh...
The problem is, when your making adjustments to the sensitivity, vibration.. how do you really know if your making the right adjustments if you don't actually have the device on your head. 'Real time feedback and adjustments'. This is not possible if the bluetooth communication is not integrated into the device itself. We believe this is crucial, so we made the hard choice to redesign the device PCB (the electronics behind the BruxRelief device) and integrate bluetooth into the device.
Now, second decision, the PCB board we created previously was 15mm x 36mm. Not bad, but all those little millimeters add up when your creating a wearable device. Now, by integrating bluetooth there was a possibility we'd have to make the PCB board bigger. No no no bueno!
We realized, we needed help!
So we reached out through our networks and interviewed several more electrical engineers and found a talented engineer right out of Bozeman Montana with an excellent background in wearables, embedded systems and multi-layer PCB design. He started about 3 weeks ago and has already designed the PCB, sent it off for 10 tests units to be manufactured and the units should arrive this week.
The good news, he has designed the bluetooth PCB and its size is spectacular!!! 16mm x 16mm, more than half the size of the previous board we developed!!! This is great for obvious reasons but it also makes more room for the battery that powers the device so we can make the device PCB enclosure thinner. Yes!!!
Now let me address one potential concern. Some backers were worried about the bluetooth being on all night (radio frequencies being close to their head all night), an understandable concern we took to heart and have designed around.
The bluetooth module we selected, happens to be the lowest power consumption bluetooth module on the market, and has the awesome ability to shut off and go into "sleep mode" while still running the detection algorithms and behavior tracking signal that makes BruxRelief the device that it is. So, if this is a concern of yours, we've got you!
We're development the programming now that will allow you to put the device on, calibrate it via bluetooth connection to your comfort and then turn the bluetooth off until you wake up in the morning to download your data and view your wellness results.
We hope you'll agree, taking a step back to make the user experience better ultimately propelled the advancement in the overall device design. Lemonade from Lemons.
This weekend, I'm traveling to Bozeman, MT to meet with our engineer and begin testing / programming the new PCB. We are expecting stellar results and I will let know how it goes over the next two weeks.
Next on the list. Our new app developer that joined the team, Andrei (Andrew) is hard at work and making lots of progress in getting the fundamentals of the app's design and functions built while we work on the PCB and final device design. With Andrew working ahead it will speed up the smartphone / device integration process as we finish testing the new PCB.
Now, Andrew lives in the Netherlands, so my plan is that once we've received satisfactory results from our tests with the new PCB, I will travel to Netherlands to work with Andrew personally to ensure all the functionality is in place so we can move towards production. We could continue to work remotely to finish the BruxRelief device, but in my experience, teams move faster together, so that's why I'll be flying out and being bunkmates with Andrew during this final stage of development.
My plan is that by mid May we will be able to send the new PCB off for full run manufacturing and we should receive these new PCB's needed to finish the BruxRelief manufacturing process by 1st or 2nd week of June. As they're being built and shipped to us, Andrew and I will be finalizing the App.
So, as soon as I get back from Netherlands, end of May, we will begin production. Which brings me to the last discussion.
We've finished all the design files for the manufacturing the plastic enclosures and plastics behind the device's design. Right now these design files will have to be altered a bit to incorporate the New PCB and battery. So once satisfactory results are achieved with the new PCB we will make the necessary changes to the plastics design files.
Here's where I'm pretty proud of our team in that we planned ahead for situations like this in that we've built the plastics design into modules. One module for the sensors and clip that connects the device around your ear and the other module solely to house the PCB electronics and battery (which is the easiest piece to redesign). So redesigning the plastic enclosure for the PCB will be a piece cake.
Finally, for timeline, I'm sure you've guessed it, we'll be busy and meeting June release will be hard. Therefore we've made another decision to give us a little flexibility and speed with production... Instead of injection molding the plastics for BruxRelief, which can take months to get right, we are going to 3D print the plastics. We will build and ship the units in batches to YOU the backers in batches of 25 to 50 units.
Our goal with this method is two fold. One, it will allow us to get BruxRelief out to you faster and Two, we can get feedback and make changes to the device design for the next batch...... "Wait..... stop..... so what does that mean for the first batch or the 2nd batch of backers if the device is changed / tweaked for the better?"
Our plan is to work with each backer, take feedback, make the device better. If there are improvements made to the overall device, we will work with each backer to exchange modify their device. By 3D printing parts we will more rapidly be able to make any unforeseen changes that we wouldn't be able to do if we used injection mold manufacturing.
Our goal / mission is to deliver a device that helps people reduce / eliminate their bruxism, therefore, we believe this added work / but added flexibility and speed will allow us to make good on that promise faster. Yes, this is not the easy way, but it's the right way and overall it will lead to our success as a company.
So, there it is, there's the plan, there's a lot of walls ahead of us that we need to climb over, move around or simply break through. But, I know myself and our team is up to the challenge.
I appreciate all the patience and support you've given us over the last year. I'm happy to say we are in the home stretch. I will update you soon with the results of the new PCB test and I will field any questions, comments or concerns along the way.
Thank you again for your support and send some good vibes our way over the next few weeks.