Our latest status and timeline, amidst the coronavirus issue in China.
Jacob Flood, March 9, 2020
The sun’s starting to come out in Montreal, and with it comes new optimism about our production timeline. This month’s update will be short: we’ll report on the current status and give an indication of next steps for the product.
Our factory is continuing to ramp up production following the recently shutdown. We’ve put in orders for the next few batches of components, but due to supply chain slowdowns from the coronavirus, the lead times on some parts are quite long. By our current estimation, the next batch will finish by end of April.
In parallel we’re continuing to run more tests: quantifying our signal quality, improving the robustness, updating our firmware, and collecting data to improve our algorithms. More on each of those below.
We’ve been in touch with our factory very frequently over the last month, pushing to get our next production batch started.
On the whole, things have quieted down significantly in Shenzhen since last month. To our best knowledge, our factory is currently operating at close to 75% capacity. In more tangible terms, this means that our team is back actively working on our product, scheduling the next batch, and ordering the parts we need to make that happen.
This is good news: we’re back on track to make our next batch and get them shipped out.
The catch is that not everyone has been as fortunate as our factory. Many other manufacturers continue to operate at minimal capacity, with no precise timeline on when they reopen. This means that while our factory is ready to assemble our units, the lead time on several critical components are very long.
You’ve likely been reading in the news that several tech companies have predicted delays in their upcoming production. This is often for the reason above: many companies are fighting to purchase a limited supply of components from these factories. We’ve done our best to be proactive, putting in orders for the longest lead time components as soon as possible. As of this week, the component with the longest lead time will take 45 days to arrive, at which point we can start production.
Meanwhile, with our factory back on their feet, we’ll be able to spend this time ensuring that production is ready by then. Following this schedule, we expect the next batch to finish in the end of April, and to ship immediately after.
The Mindset team is safely in Montreal, yet-unaffected by COVID-19. We wish everyone good health for you and yours, and hope that the effects of this virus will taper out soon.
A quick follow-up: thank you to everyone who emailed us about being a beta tester. Due to the high volume of messages, we won’t be replying to each one individually. We’ll reach out separately when we’re ready to send units, in order to confirm addresses and coordinate details.
Meanwhile, we’ve been spending our time testing the product as much as possible. This past month, we’ve made some progress in a few key areas:
1. Validating the signal quality of the electrodes
This requires sending a known signal into the headphone sensors, and measuring the output produced by our sensors. The more we work on these tests, the better we understand the data we’re receiving, and the more nuanced our optimization becomes.
We’re currently working on a software technique to compensate the EEG data for the very subtle differences in electronics of each individual headphone. This would allow a greater accuracy, as each electrode would be pre-calibrated to ensure that they produce identical results. We won’t share more than that, since this is still in the R&D phase, but we foresee that this may greatly improve the EEG signal quality.
2. Firmware updates
As more people test the headphones across more devices, we’ve been able to catch several small firmware issues that had gone unnoticed. These changes have improved the audio quality, call quality, pairing speed, and overall fluidity of the experience.
Many of these issues will only be fixed post-beta testing, so we look forward to getting the headphones into more hands to continue this process!
Validating the signal quality of the assembled product
3. Data collection
In parallel to testing the headphones, we’ve been using them to start collecting EEG data in different scenarios, to get a better sense of how they respond to environmental changes. This will help us pre-train many of the models we use to detect when the headphones are on and to measure focus levels.
We’re also getting better at improving our models over time. This way, when each of you receive your devices, you’ll be able to more quickly train the system to respond uniquely to your brain and provide personalized feedback.
Finally, we’ve spent more time parsing the data from the tests we mentioned last month. In particular, we’ve reinforced several parts in response to the drop test we performed, in order to improve the structural integrity of the units.
There’s plenty still to optimize, so we continue to improve the product as much as we can, keeping in mind that production is our #1 priority. We can’t wait to get you some units, to get feedback on the fruits of our labor!
That’s all for now! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments and we’ll reply as soon as we can.
Take care, and lots of love!
– The Mindset Team