October Update

October 4, 2019

Mindset Update – October 2019

The off-tool parts have arrived – scroll down to see some great pictures of our latest prototype batch!

Jacob Flood, October 4, 2019


Hey Backers!

The day has arrived – the tooling parts are in! We’re excited to share a lot of pictures this update of the parts we’ve received and the units we’ve been able to assemble from them. Enjoy!

TL;DR

Our tooling has arrived! We’ve completed the T0 batch of parts, which we used for part-level validation, and some ergonomics testing. You can see the pictures below – the parts look great! A few tweaks are required before the next batch, which we describe below.

We talk a little bit below about what’s involved in this first batch. The next batch (T1) will be 40 units, created later this month, which will be full-unit verification. If all goes well, the following batch of 50 units will be used for certification (~4 weeks), followed by a batch of 100-200 which will ship in January.

TOOLING UPDATE

As of this update, we have completed all of the 17 molds used to make a Mindset headphone!

In total, there were 10 plastic part molds, 2 silicone part molds, and 5 metal part molds. These took ~40 days in total, involving an array of steps and fine tuning – you can read all about that in our previous update. Receiving the molds indicates the beginning of mass production batches – after so many months of hard work, this was an incredible celebration for us.

The first step after receiving the molds was to manufacture test parts to validate the part design and adjust the molds as needed. These units (usually called T0, or “first off-tool batch) are often imperfect, as small tolerancing issues or manufacturing defects are corrected at this stage. So far, the parts coming out of the molds are looking pretty good!

You will find below a few pictures of one of our molds. This mold was designed to create both outer ear-cups parts in one shot. This piece is one of our larger plastic pieces, and is very representative of what the rest of the molds look like. At a glance, these molds appear small, despite the fact that a single mold like this easily weighs more than 250kg!

The mold for the ear cups, in its closed position

outside half of the ear cup mold

inside half of the ear cup mold

An interesting feature to note is how shiny the internal surface of the mold is in the left picture. This shininess comes from a texturing process during the mold-making – the shinier the surface, the better the finish of the part. Since the right-most side of the part is the internal surface, less effort is given to ensure a smooth surface finish.

On the right picture, you’ll also notice three movable blocks on each piece. Those are called “side-actions,” a feature used to create holes in the part during the molding process. When the molds are forced together, the side-actions activate to create the proper shape inside the mold surface. The more complex the geometry of the part, the more often that side-actions are necessary to achieve the shape.

The finished parts, as-installed in the mold

In many cases, the quality of the mold makes a lot of differences between what we perceive as a cheap product and a high-quality product. Aside from the geometry, tooling engineers need to think about the flow rates of the liquid materials, the timing of the hydraulics, the number and position of injection sites, and a flurry of other minute details in order to ensure the final piece feels premium. The surface finish, tolerances, defects, and the overall “quality” feeling of the parts are highly linked to problems at the mold level – cheap steel, or an improper mold surface finish can drastically hurt the final quality of the part.

From those molds, we manufactured our T0 batch of test components. Those components have not been painted – they are used only to validate that the mold-produced parts meet the requirements we specified. Below is a picture of a few of the components produced.

The bigger parts are typically made on their own, while the smaller parts are made as a kit. In the picture above, you can see the plastic “tree” that connect some of the smaller parts. The parts are broken from the tree during assembly. Anyone who’s into model cars will recognize this!

Here’s a close-up of some of the individual parts, with associated descriptions:

Speaker Panel Plastic Part

The dimensions of the ear cups in particular are carefully controlled to ensure proper tunability and proper sound and ANC response.

2x upper band endcaps

The pieces above fit on the upperband, to seal the assembly before fabric wrapping. They come in sets of two, for each side of the upperband. The parts are broken away from the middle structure prior to assembly.

The top electrode casing pieces for a single headphone.

They also come mounted on a structure and must be broken off. This structure is the result of how the injection molding process is done when multiple parts are made in one shot.

Those plastic pieces are covering the sliders on both sides.

The headphones sliders made of aluminum were not made as a single solid piece in order to save on weight and to improve manufacturability. The piece above fits on the inner side of the armband.

An example of a smaller piece attached to its tree.

When multiple small parts are made, they will be attached to a structure like this so that many individual pieces can be molded at once.

This is the outer ear-cup, before painting.

You can see in the picture above that the surface finish is very good and shiny. We have seen earlier that the mold’s internal surface was shiny as well. You can now see the effect on the molded parts. After painting, this part will be very smooth, and feel well-built as a result.

Those T0 parts were assembled together to validate that the parts fit and that the design ergonomics meet our requirements. You can see below the image of one of two units assembled. In order to more easily test the mechanical fit, these units only include the main parts necessary to test the headphones on people. The fabrics and aesthetic metal parts were not added to those ergonomic devices, in order to speed up the test-assembly.

The result is magnificent!

One of the two units that we used for ergonomics tests to validate fitting, comfort and electrode contact

TESTING 

Our ergonomics tests have confirmed a few things:

  1. The users found the headphones were very comfortable and fit well. They particularly liked the feel of the microfiber fabric ear cups, which is great to hear.

  2. For most users, the upperband electrodes made adequate contact, but required pressing down slightly. The reason is that the grey fabric-wrapped band at the top is thicker than we specified in our requirements. Our factory will fix this by changing the thickness of the foam, and subsequently selecting the right foam density to ensure a slight compression when worn. Most users reported that they stopped feeling the top electrodes quickly after wearing the headphones.

  3. The cushion sensors were very reported by users to be comfortable, but failed to touch certain users based on their skull shape. Some users have a larger groove behind the ears than others, making it difficult for the electrode to contact there. Fortunately, this part was designed modularly, so adjusting the location of the cushion electrode is very easily. We will be assembling units with the new locations shortly, to confirm the final electrode location for shipping.

We still have a few more test to go before making the next batch. So far, we’ve been really happy with the quality of the products, and the feedback we’ve gotten in our tests. We’ll be incorporating this feedback into our next batch, so hopefully we can give our stamp of approval and move to shipping!

PACKAGING

Those ergonomics prototypes embody near-final proportions, and therefore were also used to confirm the dimensions of our prototype gift box. The box is designed to hug the headphones and provide necessary padding to avoid scratching or breakage during shipment. In addition to the gift box – in which the headphones sit – we are also currently designing and testing the shipment box – the outer shell, which will end up on your doorstep. Once we assemble the 40 DV units to validate the mold design and product function, we will be able to fine tune the box design and start reliability tests.

In parallel, we are currently working on the instruction manual for the product. We’d love to get your feedback – have you ever had an incredible experience, where the instruction manual added genuine value to your unboxing? What do you like/dislike about instruction manuals? Or, do they simply end up in the trash? Please comment your answers below!

Preliminary photo of what the inside of the shipping box will look like

The same headphone above, outside the shipping box and in very different lighting.

NEXT STEPS

Receiving the off-tool units was a huge milestone for us – we’re incredibly excited about how well the parts have turned out, and can’t wait to get the T1 batch of 40 units. From here, the next steps are as follows:

  1. Continue testing during Chinese National Holiday (first week of October)

  2. Finish validation of T0 parts (Second week of October)

  3. Prepare T1 parts and assemble 40 test units for validation (mid-October)

  4. Re-tune the audio and ANC with the off-tool design, and test all functions (end of October)

  5. Assemble roughly 50 more units to be used in beta tests, reliability testing, and certifications (November). The certification process requires shipping units to a 3rd party certification agency, and takes approximately 4 weeks.

  6. While the units are being tested and certified: start preparing a pre-production run of final units. This will be roughly 100-200 units ready to be shipped. So long as the reliability & safety tests go well, we’ll be ready to ship those units in January and continue mass production immediately after. (January)

We are getting very excited about the results and positive feedback received so far. We can’t wait to get those units out and start improving your focus!

David at the Shenzhen office, wearing our new prototype!


That’s all for now! If you’re as excited about these units as we are, share your thoughts in the comments.

We’d also love your feedback on instruction manuals (bolded above), so let us know what you think!

Lots of love,

– The Mindset Team



Comments

  • Troy Beck

    Pushed back again?!?!? Is January a firm date? There have been so many planned to ship dates that have come and gone.

    • Jacob F

      Hey Troy – January 2020 is our best estimate, but it’s not a firm date. There’s non-zero chance that something will go wrong with the certification, which will require an additional batch before shipping (~6 weeks).

      If the DV batch in 2 weeks works out, and the certification goes through, there shouldn’t be many more major risks. The major milestone for us was the tooling – from here the process should be smoother.

  • Troy Beck

    I paid for these headphones almost 4 years ago, and paid for my shipping a year ago…

  • Mark Graf

    Maybe the electrodes should have some type of spring loading to them to accommodate different head shapes.

  • Giuliana Cabral

    Im happy for you guys but Im a little sad because when I bought I didnt know it wasnt ready yet, so my expectations on the delivery were very high. This is the only thing I think you need to improve in your communication to attract more clients, you need to be clear about the stages and when its going to be shipped BEFORE we buy.
    And also, I have a question: is january a real firm date? If its not, you shouldnt tell us a date.
    Im anxious about the product and really glad that this is finally coming true.
    Hope you understand my comment as a help as a client, because I work in a startup and I know good feedbacks are like gold for us.

    • Jacob F

      Hey Giuliana – thanks for the honest feedback.

      We’ve gotten feedback that our website doesn’t make the fact that it’s a pre-order clear enough, so we’re redesigning our site now to make sure this is all clear. Our goal is for people to join our mission to improve focus, not to trick anyone.

      January is our best estimate with the available information. There’s a non-zero chance that the certification will cause us to do another batch, which would shift the schedule by ~6 weeks.

  • Gordon Sanders

    Of all KS that I have been involved in, you absolutely have the best communication strategy. We all understand (or should) understand that date slippage can occur, especially when building a product from the ground up, or “ear out” 😉

    Thanks for keeping us informed and providing us with a future timeline based on the information that you know now.

    It might be helpful if you posted your RAID log so that we have a more complete visibility

    • Jacob F

      Thanks for understanding Gordon!

      Good idea on the RAID log. We don’t have any of that info in an easily-sharable format, but I’ll look to include some of that in our next update.

  • Lasse Jægergaard

    I have a few questions:
    Is January 2020 the shipment month or should we expect more delays?
    Since you are more than a few years delayed, do you have the necessary capital to continue the business as well as the project and the deliver the goods?
    What risks do you see for the project now?
    I’m looking forward to read your answers.

    • Jacob F

      Hey Lasse – January 2020 is our best estimate, but it’s not a firm date. There’s non-zero chance that something will go wrong with the certification, which will require an additional batch before shipping (~6 weeks).

      If the DV batch in 2 weeks works out, and the certification goes through, there shouldn’t be many more major risks. The major milestone for us was the tooling – from here the process should be smoother.

      As of now we’re still able to deliver the units as-expected. We’ve had some great financing partners join the team that believe in our mission, and have supported us along the way!

  • Jan Hemphälä

    In terms of Manual I guess most people don’t read it. And because there may be typos it’s better to have it online only. Maybe a QR-code linking to a youtube video and/or an online document (html/pdf).

    • Jacob F

      Good call, I think a digital version will be great addition. Easier to update after-the-fact as well!

  • Coen Tuerlings

    For the Manual, I Like the ones with clear illustrations on how the device is controlled. I don’t read lots of texts. If I’m clear how to use the device in simple steps… I’m satisfied. Later on, I will scroll again through the manual to find some cool features I’ve overlooked in the first attempt…

    • Jacob F

      Good to know, thanks Coen!

  • Daniel Lewis

    Manuals – I find a quick start sheet really all that is required. Let the application tell the user the absolute details.

    From a best experience standpoint, I find that Razer do a good job with theirs (though they have the full as well as the quick start – but they don’t have an app).

    I believe that because you have a clean box setup, you could actually do a quick start guide with punch throughs (i.e. parts of the guide actually have holes in it) so that when you open the box the guide is pointing out features and the arrows show the mechanical component it is referring to…

  • Ksocal Amc

    I sense what you are doing with your so-called push backs is finding issues and with trying to resolve them you find the need for more time! Keeping us informed as you do is the right move! Things happen to all of us where we find more time is needed to finish a project and even then there could be more issues! This is a huge project with many intricate details and electronic parts and you have to get it right or it’s useless! Thank you for what you all are doing! By the way, I am willing to wait until it is as perfect as possible!

    Kenneth Schauer

  • George Ionescu

    Campaign’s estimated delivery: Dec 2017

    2019 February update: "In the meantime, we’ll continue working towards our next batch, which should arrive late April/early May. This will be our last pre-shipping batch."

    2019 April update: "With this successful batch, our next iteration will be a mass production batch. If this batch is successful, we’ll start shipping each subsequent batch, with a ~6 week lead time each – we’re very excited about this."

    2019 May update: "This negotiation is the necessary evil, to make sure that we’re spending your money wisely. This took longer than expected unfortunately – as a result we’re current expecting to receive the DV batch in July."

    2019 July update: "The DV batch will be ready in late August as a result, instead of July as intended. Once we validate these changes, the next step is mass production all the way."

    2019 August update: "The moulds are currently being cut for our first mass production batch – this process started earlier this month, and will take 40 business days. We’ll start receiving parts late next month, which will form the DV batch."

    2019 October update: "The next batch (T1) will be 40 units, created later this month, which will be full-unit verification. If all goes well, the following batch of 50 units will be used for certification (~4 weeks), followed by a batch of 100-200 which will ship in January."

    I regret backing you up. I am terribly sorry I trusted you: you don’t deserve my trust.

    The simple fact that it takes you 2 weeks to even bother to reply to messages tells a lot about you.

    When I asked about financial details, your reply was "I would like to clarify: as per Kickstarters terms, backers are not investors. We have a fiduciary duty to our investors to not disclose company financial information – as a result we will not be sharing this information."

    This tells a lot about the way you think of us, your angel investors, without whom this wouldn’t have been made possible at all.

    Do not reply to this message with copy and paste phrases; in fact, don’t even bother to reply: nothing you could say would make things better.

    • Jacob F

      It’s clear that we’ve hurt you through this project, and I’m deeply sorry for that George. We care deeply about this project and all of our backers, and we’re doing our best to handle the complexity of the task with the volume of communication from our 5000+ backers. I apologize if this has felt insincere to you.

      We’ll keep working hard to deliver a product you enjoy in the end.

  • Alley G

    I think printing the url for a digital instruction manual on the side of the box makes for a great way to save paper. There could also be a link in the associated program/app. Or it could just be integrated into the app altogether. I personally don’t think a printed instruction manual adds any value to the product – especially one with a necessary digital component.

  • Sanne Maarsingh

    hi team,

    I’m one of the earlybird backers and I have a few questions:

    • HAIR – I have a a big head of curly hair.. do you think the will electrodes penetrate my hair? And are the electrodes removable? Since I’ll be super annoyed when my headphones are completely tangled up in my hair. It does take a lot of work to fix curly hair you know..
    • Electrodes – You mention the increased pressure on the head in the design. How will you prevent users to develop headaches? My Sony headphones rest on a part of my skull that gives me an enormous headache.. So reading this tickled me a bit.
    • DESIGN – I see the top of the headphones being looking for the right word open. Is this the final design? Or will there be fabric/plastic on top like in previous designs?
    • DELIVERY – I ordered 4 years ago by card of my colleague (who doesn’t work here anymore) and I’m leaving this organization soon. The product will be sent to this office.. How can I change the delivery address?
    • SAFETY – How about keeping my headphones safe? Will you provide for a hard-case or small bag? I like the bag Sony made for the latest headphones. The hard-case is even better for travel, but should not be too bulky. Maybe making both could add some more value to your products and satisfy many impatient backers.

    For the manual. I like the manual from Boldking (razor system) and Coolblue. I’d like to receive a manual in-app. A printed manual will definitely go into the trash, after reading of course. But any manual that I like has many pictures. I like it when you refer to a product video, where I can see what’s what, demonstrated by an actual human being (preferably one of you guys, that’s way more personal).

    Anyways, thank you so much. I’m looking forward to receiving the headphones in 2020. (Preferably before Christmas..JK 😉 I’m sure you’ll work that out) Keep up the good work!

    Sanne (The Netherlands)

  • dave whomsley

    I prefer a QR-code that links to a page with multiple videos – quick start guide, more detailed start, troubleshooting, etc. Thanks for the updates and for keeping the goal of a superior product / outcome in mind.

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