Here is another monthly update filled with our latest progress and current status. We try to include as much detail as possible in these updates but of course, if you have any outstanding questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
- BackerKit Surveys: For those who have not yet filled out your surveys, please do so as soon as possible. We are unable to deliver your individual orders without having the surveys complete. We have been and will continue to lock in your responses on a weekly basis.
Please read below for more details about what’s been going on this month:
Almost everyone has filled out their BackerKit surveys and we can’t thank you enough! For those of you who have not yet completed your surveys, we kindly ask you to do so as soon as possible. We need your order details, confirmed shipping addresses and add-on information in order to fulfill your orders. If you are having difficulty accessing the BackerKit survey that was sent via email, please reach out to us privately. We have been and will continue to lock in your survey responses on a weekly basis.
REVOLS MOBILE APP:
As a reminder, the Revols mobile app helps guide you through the setup and customization process. Since custom fitting your own earphones is a new and foreign concept for most, the app is intended to really hold your hand through the process and provide assistance every step of the way. We’ve included visual illustrations and animations, audio cues, and of course, music to make the app feel like an immersive and enjoyable experience from beginning to end.
We’re really proud of the app and based on our user testing, feel as though it does a great job at ensuring the user’s comfort and satisfaction throughout the process. We know you’re all anxiously awaiting the day when you can download it for yourselves and we appreciate your patience. In the meantime, you can enjoy a walkthrough by clicking on the link below.
Be sure to play the video with the volume on! The voice over will start at the SOUND TEST screen (which is the point when you will have the earphones in your ears).
***Note: We are still making minor tweaks to the app and continuing our QA testing to ensure the final product is awesome. Please note that minor changes may be made to this version prior to the app’s public release.
iOS & Android App Approval
Earlier this month, we submitted the Revols app to the App store and Google Play for review. Apple and Google have different criteria for approving an app and as a result, the iOS app approval process took a little longer. Because our mobile app is associated with a hardware device, we had to submit a sample of the product itself prior to receiving app approval from the App store. This was done so that the Apple team could run internal testing to ensure that the software and hardware work together as intended.
By mid-month, we received confirmation from the App store and Google Play that both our iOS and Android apps had been approved!
Click here to view Apple’s app confirmation email.
Click here to view the app’s private release on Google Play.
***Note: The iOS and Android apps have not been made public just yet and so you won’t be able to search for them. For now, the Android app has been privately released in “Closed Beta” form. We are continuing to conduct final testing and debugging prior to going public. Of course, both apps will be publicly released by the time your earphones start shipping out.
As you can see in the app video above, the molding tips and earphones are color coded to distinguish the left side (blue) from the right side (red). The headsets have been pad printed with the appropriate color on each side while the molding tips have a colored piece of EVA foam glued to the back. Additionally, the latest tips have the dot indicators on them to distinguish size small (one dot) from size large (two dots).
Here are some close up shots of the latest tips off the production line:
Right Side Color Coding: https://imgur.com/a/fe1ii
Small & Large Size Indicators: https://imgur.com/a/45arm
Production Tool Modifications
When running the production tool, we noticed that the tips were slightly stiffer than the tips we had tested from the sample tool prior. We determined that the reason the sample tool tips were softer/more flexible than the production tips is because they are a slightly thinner nitrile. Both the sample tool and the production tool were designed to be the same thickness, but sample tools have larger tolerances than production tools and are therefore less accurate. In our case, the increased tolerance resulted in thinner tips that when compared to the production tooled tips, we actually prefered.
We did some additional testing and found that the test tooled tips performed better than the production tooled tips. This showed us that the tip performance is very sensitive to the material thickness and that in this case, a thinner and more flexible tip is preferred. As a result, we have decided to modify the tool design in order to make the tips approximately 15% thinner and in turn even more flexible. While making a modification to the production tool at this stage is costly and time consuming, we are confident that the benefits outweigh the costs. We are committed to producing the quality product that was promised and we believe that these thinner tips will result in an even better fit long term. As much as we would like to have the tips finalized as soon as possible, we are really putting quality first and we know that this extra step is worth taking.
It’s taken a few weeks to build this new tool, but we’re happy to report that the new tip production tool is now complete and ready for testing. Sample parts from this new tool are expected to come off the production line the second week of October (after the Chinese holiday) and we look forward to sharing the results with all of you then!
DVT (DESIGN VERIFICATION TESTING) UNITS:
As discussed in our last update, during a routine test for Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC), the earphones didn’t pass the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation standards. The test revealed that certain frequencies were not low enough to meet FCC standards and could potentially interfere with other devices when in use.
As planned, our engineers worked on the redesign of the PCB and made the necessary optimizations. It took approximately 4 weeks for the redesigned PCB to get delivered to our factory and for our manufacturers to reassemble the earphones. Once that was complete, we sent out the reassembled DVT earphone units for external FCC testing. We’re happy to report that the FCC regulation standards have been met! This is exactly the outcome we were hoping for as it shows that our redesigned PCB meets the necessary standards to move forward to the PVT (Product Verification Testing), also known as the pre-production, stage of this process.
Other Tests Passed During DVT
We’ve spent the last few weeks testing the DVT units to ensure that our design is as robust and long lasting as intended. Running thorough tests now will help ensure that the PVT process runs smoothly and that the ramp up for mass production is as efficient as possible. For those of you who would like to learn more about the different tests conducted and passed, please read below.
HEADSET & MOLDING TIP LIFE CYCLE TESTING:
Using an automated system, we clipped the molding tips to the earpiece and measured the push/pull force over 3000 cycles. After every 100 cycles, we tested the frequency response in both ears to ensure that the seal is still perfect and the force is sufficient to hold the two pieces together. We wanted to ensure that irrespective of how many times the tips clip on and off the headset, that the Revols sound quality and bass never get compromised.
BULLET & REVIVE LIFE CYCLE TESTING: We clipped the Revive battery pack onto the bullet connector on the earphones for 3000 (manual) cycles to test the custom connectors in the Revive as well as the bullet’s durability. We assessed the strength of the connection after every 100 cycles and ensured that all electrical functions were still working.
CABLE PULL TESTING: As you know, we have reinforced our cables with Kevlar to ensure strength and durability. To test this, we hung a 3.5kg weight for 1 minute. After running this test we were able to confirm that the cable did not detach from the housing. Note: this test was done on every single strain relief and cable joint on the product.
In addition to the tests mentioned above, we’ve also conducted the following: cable bending, headset and tip aging, UV, weathering, vibration, packaging, electrical and surface testing.
PVT (PRODUCT VERIFICATION TESTING) / PRE-PRODUCTION UNITS:
In the last week, our focus has shifted to PVT (Product Verification Testing) also known as the Pre-Production phase of the manufacturing process. This is a standard stage considered more like a “trial run” that comes after DVT and prior to advancing to mass production. The goal of the PVT stage is to assess the production line and all its working parts and ensure that the overall process is ready to scale up for mass production.
All necessary materials and assembly line tools were ordered once DVT was complete and they arrived at our factory this week. From there, our manufacturer began assembling the 150 planned units.
After a few PVT units came off the line, we noticed an inconsistency in the mic isolation for the mics mounted on each earpiece. These mics are needed in order for the Adjustable Soundscape feature to pick up ambient noise from the user’s surroundings. What we noticed was that while some earphones are coming off the production line with sufficient mic isolation, others are not. We have held off on completing the remaining PVT assembly until this mic isolation problem is fixed.
In starting the PVT assembly, we noticed that we were not getting consistent isolation between the speaker and microphone and we are therefore getting feedback when running the Adjustable Soundscape feature on some units. The solution is to block the sound from the speaker that is reaching the microphone so that we don’t create a feedback loop. A feedback loop causes a high pitched ringing noise similar to the one you’ve heard at a concert when the microphone gets too close to a speaker (pretty unpleasant).
Basically, we need to be able to turn on the mics (with the Soundscape feature) and have them pick up the surrounding noise as intended while being isolated from the internal audio coming from the speakers. We are currently testing a solution we believe will improve the assembly process to make sure we get sufficient isolation on all earphones. In doing so, we will ensure that the Soundscape feature functions properly and that clear external sound is heard over the audio as intended.
We are working with our manufacturers on solving this mic isolation challenge and anticipate it taking approximately 2 weeks to fix and resume PVT. We will keep you posted - stay tuned.
We will be able to share a more detailed production timeline once the factory has finished the PVT assembly. Factors like scale up time, lead time between the different earphone colors, and quantity of units made per week will be communicated to you as soon as we have feedback from the factory. We want to remind everyone that we will start shipping out units while mass production is still underway. This way, we will be able to ship and produce simultaneously to ensure that your earphones get delivered as soon as possible.
Next week is a celebrated Holiday (Mid-Autumn Festival) in China and we wanted to let you all know that our factories will be closed for the week. Our engineers in Shenzhen and Montreal however, will still be working and trying to push forward as much as possible while the factories are closed. Production of the thinner molding tips, mic isolation troubleshooting and solving and PVT assembly will resume after the Holiday.
We apologize for the long read, but we’re happy to have so much to share. We’re at an exciting phase of this journey and want you to feel as included in the process as possible. We appreciate your continued support and look forward to the coming weeks leading up to mass production.
The Revols Team