Production Update - 30 Aug

Hi All - here’s an update on our analysis results from PCB assembly testing -

We’ve studied the occasional intermittency we saw on some TREG units, and worked to determine if it could be screened out through certification testing, or if it required preemptive replacement of the flex PCB’s.

We reviewed sample units from different batches of thousands of TextBlades. Through a battery of different testing techniques, we were able to identify some but not all of the intermittency cases.

By its nature, intermittent and gradual-onset phenomena is tricky to positively identify in each case where it may be latent. We were able to narrow it down, but not conclusively rule it out through the certification tests.

Because an intermittent connection effect can alter the analog data stream being measured from your fingertips, if it happens, it can materially affect input. When it’s sporadic, it’s also tougher to know whether an error was you or the machine, especially when it’s a fleeting effect inside the hardware.

Given TextBlade’s new technology that can interpret human intent at very high speed, it’s especially important to eliminate any noise source. The integrity of the signal stream is fundamental to what TextBlade can do.

Reviewing these considerations collectively, we’ve decided that the most rational course is to preemptively replace the flex PCB’s. The installation handling stress that had caused this issue could have occurred with almost any of the units we already built, so the conservative path is to replace them on all the units in our volume production inventory.

We’re also deploying new fixtures on our lines that protect the flex from exposure to any handling stress. This effectively provides guard rails in addition to the new training of the operators.

We’re proceeding now with component orders for a large volume of new PCB’s and core silicon to cover replacements in our entire inventory of KeyBlade assemblies. (Right and left Keyblade PCB’s are mirror images of each other).

The SpaceBlade has a different mechanical structure, so it does not present any similar stress conditions during assembly. SpaceBlade inventory is testing good, so replacement of those PCB’s is not needed.

Within September the focus will be on getting these new KeyBlade PCB components fabbed, assembled and tested.

After completion of the new flex boards, we’ll start installation into our KeyBlade inventory in batches, and do end-to-end checks to confirm that the new PCB’s and assembly procedures show no signs of intermittency. We’ll use both our automated thumpers with logging tests, and also perform destructive tests on some samples from each batch to verify good stress limits.

When the tests confirm that we’ve eliminated the stress intermittency, we expect to start releasing from those batches to customers within Q4. We’ll do another update with more calendar info as we get more data on the finished goods output from the process.

For the technically inclined, you might find these recent articles of interest -

They describe a similar issue with PCB stress that is now affecting Apple’s most successful product, the iPhone 6. Hundreds of millions of iPhone 6 pcb’s are out in the field right now. Apple will figure this out and they’ll make it right, but it is a fresh reminder that even the biggest folks also have to deal with the same stuff.

Apple definitely didn’t skimp, and put an army of great talent on testing their flagship product. Even so, it was possible for an issue like this to present, with a vexing, delayed-action effect.

Especially with all-new tech, it pays off very well to be conservative, and perhaps a little paranoid about testing it. That’s what we’re doing here, to nip whatever we find in the bud, in-house, so it’s fully settled ahead of deliveries. That’s the smartest path for both manufacturer and customers, and the best way to deliver a great new experience. Many thanks to our TREG users for helping us find this.

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Well, I’m not sure if this is good news or bad news. Assuming Waytools has deep pockets backing them, we can expect new PCBs to be manufactured and assembled. Shipment in Q4 is a wider window than we had been getting (from 1, via 2, to now 3 months) for delivery window. I hope this doesn’t mean that slippage of 19 months now will go forward to slippage over 19 quarters. By that time, I expect to have a direct plug with dongle installed behind my left ear to manage user input to all my devices.

-e

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I agree with the “better safe than sorry” policy both on choosing preemptive replacement and on updating the delivery schedule to Q4 rather than September-October ;o)

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Well, all I can say is fool me twice shame on me. I’ve now ordered twice and cancelled twice. If this product ever actually makes it to market I may consider ordering one at that time. I’ll watch to see what the setback is in 2017. At least I can now consider the humor free.

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That is unfortunate news, but the right outcome. Given that the process from here should be relatively straightforward - if this was the only gating issue, it is a case of ensuring the new process hasn’t broken anything else…, can you outline a project plan at a high level?

Eg

  • Orders for components expected to be fulfilled by Sep 15
  • Test batch assembled for internal testing by Sep 23
  • New TREG participants identified and notified by 30 Sep
  • Run of 200 units for TREG testing by 7 October
  • TREG feedback window aimed at 2 weeks before assembly go/no-go decison;
  • Assembly commences at full volume - 1,000 units complete and shipped Within 2 weeks; satisfies all Jan 15 preorders)
  • Next 5,000 units complete and shipped by following 2 weeks (satisfies all Feb 15 preorders) etc
  • Estimated X units per week thereafter

Etc

Looking forward to getting the final product,

Chris

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Made it with a good 50 minutes to spare!

Well, I guess most customers will consider it bad. I mean, no matter how wise the decision is, the only “good” news would be something that clearly shows us closer to shipping. Or that some thousands of units passed so they could be shipped soon while others are being made.

Well, a number of people have argued for a bigger window. Now we have one - 4th quarter.

From what has been described before, it sounds to me like this should make it virtually impossible to stress the PCB, which leads to the question of whether or not there is anything else that MUST be fixed before shipping. You see, if not, and if this absolutely prevents the stress problem, then the odds should be strong that shipping is more foreseeable - based on how long to replace parts and do the basic testing to make sure nothing new comes up. So, how do we stand on other issues?

Another somewhat related question - how long before new parts can be made AND in what quantities/day (or whatever) can they be produced once they pass testing? You once said complete sets of keycaps can be made at the rate of “many thousands” per day. Kinda vague, but sure sounds like more than 2-3 thousand. How do these compare?

My interpretation, subject to elaboration from WT: At least enough should be completed before end of September to get at least some of the testing done. But it could also mean all the testing (assuming no problems show up). That would be great since it could mean the only thing left would be how fast you can produce completed units.

I’m assuming this is based on a normal calendar year - thus Oct through Dec?

Oh, and once you have done your testing, are you going to send these units out to a new (or old) batch of TREG testers? If so, I’ll assume there would be at least a week or more for that testing process.

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I see your point and would love to know. However, those numbers aren’t close since they said they sold 10k in the first two days!

Now, a lot of those could be from corporations and it is possible they might opt to send out the small orders first as they build up more inventory, but I’m pretty sure it will still take a lot more than 1000 or 5000 to reach your estimated dates!

Would love to know more about how many they’ve sold, but that isn’t something any company is likely to give much detail on.

Hmmm. I now guess it’ll be 2017, not fourth quarter.

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Actually they said they will tell us eventually:

So patience is key, unfortunately, but well explained decision. Only comment I would want to make is that the abundance of adjectives doesn’t clarify the argument :wink:

i only meant they are unlikely to say how many they sold. maybe some day they’ll give a vague answer. something like ‘hundreds of thousands’ or other descriptor that covers a lot of possibilities. like when they use terms like ‘many thousands’.

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Sure - meant to say in my post and forgot, all numbers and dates were made up, but intended to illustrate the point. I don’t know how many it would take, not production ramp up etc, but wouls be great to know, e.g., once we go, it will take however long to fulfil orders etc.

Hey Waytools, you should not be taking new orders.

Despite the assertion that you have deep pockets, it should be clear by now that you may not ever be able to bring this product to market. Even if your money is infinite, your expertise may not be up to the task. At this point, after all of these problems, shortcomings, and shortsightedness, you have to see that it’s a real possibility that you can’t pull this off. Once you go to final production and shipping, that’s when you should be taking new orders. Your performance up to this point makes this clear.

Another possible scenario that can’t be discounted, is that you’re having money problems that are causing all of these delays. In the real world where money isn’t infinite, at some point you’re just conning people to spend good money into bad IF the real problem is that you’re money has run out. If you’ve been buying time all these years waiting for some loan or investor or backer to show up, it’s time by now to realize it probably wont happen. IF the TREGers is just some elaborate Ponzi scheme with prototypes to keep up appearances while just treading water, then you have gone far enough down that road and should stop now. Further orders will just dig you in deeper.

In either scenario, one clear, easy, moral thing to do is stop taking in new money. The fact that you haven’t stopped taking orders is the thing that finally convinced me to get my money back and get out.

At this point, you have bungled this badly enough that anyone new buying a text blade is being fooled into investing in a startup without knowing it. New customers think they’re buying a product, but it’s very safe to say by now that they’re really just investing in the probability of a product. I didn’t want to be a part of that, and that’s why I got out.

If you want to be seen as a good-faith actor, one obvious step is to stop taking new orders.

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Yeah, good thing Apple didn’t just release the iPhone 6 on schedule before they nit-picked any conceivable issue that could ever come up. That would have been a disaster.

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Honestly, how can you say this as fact. Their post was on WEDNESDAY and not Tuesday. So many things they tell us is untruthful. At one point they lost the benefit of doubt. For me, not like it matters to anyone, my biggest turning point was when they took away the pleasure of jumping my place in line with TREG. One of the reasons I like to order technology early is so I can get it early. That was promised to me when I bought the product. That joy has been taken away, so now I’ll see if they ever bring this to market.

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Ugh, exasperated sigh… I was going to write more but I am now too disappointed. I get it, I understand it. It is frustrating but it sounds like this would effectively replace 2/3rds of the components on a many thousand device inventory with some of those components being swapped at least twice already.

Manufacturing is hard, especially with it being overseas. Engineering is difficult because they are creating something entirely new and learning on the fly then making corrections and corrections to corrections, etc.

Patiently waiting and praying for a TREG…

What do people want to bet that they find more issues arising from the changes and it’s delayed even further? Any takers? :slight_smile:

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I’d bet the house on it.

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I hear you.

You know how there’s a narrative when talking about one’s goals (or goals that a boss sets up) how often the standard gets higher and higher, as in you get to that standard and then the bar is immediately raised higher as a way to indicate that “no you haven’t met the standard yet”.

In this case, it’s like the opposite. More and more leeway is used to interpret whether a post has met the deadline that the poster themselves set. Very soon, we’d be re-writing time to say there are 28 hours in a day.

(okay, the last statement is an exaggeration and a little bit of a poke, but the point remains that the standard of assessment keeps getting lower and lower).

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Actually I re-read the “Keys for Kids” page. There were two ways for Waytools to meet the $1M goal. The one that we all think about is to purchase a Textblade; therefore they must have sold 10 thousand Texblades, but this is erroneous because there is another way for them to reach the $1M goal. If you share their website to friends online, then each share is equivalent to $1. I am now very suscipcious about how many they really sold. They haven’t said because they like the illusion of 10k Textblades sold, but they haven’t outright confirmed it. It isn’t a lie, but they chose not to correct this illusion.

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Reflecting back, I’m wondering if all the rework caused undo stress on the PCB’s and that is the true nature of the issue. Working with PCB assemblies, there is a general rule of thumb that you don’t want to go past 3 reworks or reflows. The number is different in different places but the same thought remains, that rework stress isn’t good on the electronics.

Logistically I assume there are some parts already on hand because of all the order, that you have received; therefore shipment should be theoretically sooner for some rather than later. If there are other gating issues, it would be better to know now.

Is this release to TREG or general release to the public?
Also looking back, we will be at the 2 year mark. We could have been on Textblade 3.0 by that time or at least 2.0, especially if you count the TREG release as Textblade 1.0.

I’ve said a lot about this in the previous update, but Apple has actually shipped a all-around-robust product. Even with the few issues, I agree that Apple will probably make it right some how to the limited few who see this issue. They’ve done it before.

@Waytools could be in the same situation to be the hero. You could have released the product ages ago and still could have looked like a hero by saying that these issues will be corrected and replaced through the Textblades early adopter guarantee. I hope that @Waytools realizes this missed opportunity to have their cake and eat it too. @Waytools is already sunk all this cost, but they could have at least had happier customers with the early adopter product. Sad thing is that I’m not sure if the perfection ideal is something that @Waytools is hiding behind or if it is a true ideal. Either way, there needs to be a balance between perfection and good enough.

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