Product Update - January 2018
Welcome to our blog! In the upcoming weeks you’ll find some great content made by our team. Take a peek around our website, and let us know what you think!
Jacob Flood, January 19, 2018
The prototype looks and feels amazing. Together with our factory we’ve identified several minor changes we want to make moving forward, which will get ironed out in the next iteration. We’re running a couple experiments with the next batch to nail down certain electrode decisions (namely, around the upper mechanism and the earcups). These should be the final design changes, yielding our golden sample in the next few weeks. Our timeline is still set to start shipping in April.
The prototype looks and feels amazing.
Quick note: our updates used to be named based on the month we were discussing (eg: calling an update posted in November “October update”). We’ve gotten some confused comments about that, so we’re switching to naming the update based on the month we post it, not the month prior. We didn’t skip last month – you can find that update here.
CES this year was INCREDIBLE. Being able to represent Mindset at the world largest electronics conference is an amazing honor.
We got to connect with some of our backers, and show the world our engineering prototype. Having won an innovation award meant that our booth was moved into the "innovation" section right at the front of Eureka park (the startup section of CES) - this dramatically increased the amount of media, investors, distributors, and neurotech enthusiasts we go to interact with. Overall the conference was a huge success.
If you're curious about the experience on the ground floor and trends in the tech world, one of our investors Ben Joffe wrote an incredible piece on his takeaways from CES 2018. It captures our experiences better than we could.
In particular, we noticed that braintech is definitely picking up. IMEC finally nailed down their dry electrode form factor, and Philips tried to popularize a new sleep mask (oddly similar to the already popular, and in my opinion far superior version from Dreem). It's clear by now that neurotech will be the next wearable frontier, and we're excited to be on the forefront of this movement.
Were any of you at CES? If so, we'd love to hear what your takeaways were in the comments!
As we explained back in our July Update, The engineering prototype (EP) is the combined “looks-like” and “works-like” prototype. Several iterations of the EP are made until we’re satisfied with the design of each part – at that point, we can move to tooling, and mass production.
We received our first EP during the holidays. The product team worked day and night in December tweaking, assembling, and preparing the EP for our CES deadline. The result is awesome.
The update this month will focus on a design review of the first batch of units – demonstrating what we like, what we dislike, and what the next steps will look like.
In December we iteratively built three prototype units, making small tweaks between each.
In the first units, no sound tuning was done – we were only aiming to test the EEG quality. The resulting audio was… questionable at best: the middle and high frequencies response was decent, but the bass was strongly lacking. To achieve our desired “natural sound” signature, quite some work still remained.
Prototypes 2 and 3 got slightly better – the maximum volume was raised, the distortion effects we detected were removed, and the overall response was much better. The next step is to hand a sample over to ONKYO, who will begin the tuning process of achieving the desired response curve. From there, small electronic and mechanical tweaks will finalize the process.
Colors, Materials, and Finish
Collectively known as CMF, the color, material, and finish are a huge part of what makes a premium product truly look and feel premium. Our industrial designers spent a lot of time thinking these details through back before the kickstarter. While these are usually “finishing” details, we’re pointing out problems progressively to make sure we don’t miss anything.
In addition, the logo on the left side was printed backwards. This “left side vs right side” problem is pretty common for mirrored parts – we’ll be inscribing the inside of our tooling with appropriate sides to avoid this confusion in the future.
The industrial design originally prescribed that the logo be laser-etched into the headphone. In practice, we found that this made the logo hard to see. Current prototypes print the logo instead – we’ll be looking at whether there’s a better way to do this for the next batch.
In the last month, we discovered that someone registered a trademark for the name “Mindset” in China. They did so 2 weeks before we did – go figure. We suspect that the so-called “trademark squatter” will try extorting us for the trademark.
This is apparently a common issue – as much as we tried to prevent it, China’s “first to file” trademark system got in the way. As such we’ll likely be removing the word Mindset from the product itself, such that they will have no claim on preventing exports of units from China. It’s the wild wild west out there.
The upper band – which is assembled from several parts – seems to have a small kink in our prototypes. Measuring the part, we found that the dimensions don't perfectly match the CAD we designed. These types of errors are the reason that engineering prototype iterations are so important pre-tooling, to avoid much more costly errors later on. This will be compensated for in the next iteration.
Inside the ear cups, a fabric is often laid over the driver plate. This helps dampen the sound, and also provide comfort. In our prototypes, this fabric strip, as well as the fabric covering the outside of the ear cup foam, are the wrong color.
The fabric in this prototype was also hand-assembled, rather than wrapped over a fabric-tool. As a result, the fit is looser and less precise than we want it – that will get fixed by using the proper tools in final productions.