Shipping Update

Hey cyclists!

Production is underway so we thought this would be a good time to give a quick update!

This pallet full of SmartHalo devices is heading your way!

When will I receive my device?

As you know, we started shipping some units around the world. Some lucky fellas already received their devices but there are still a lot remaining to ship so don’t worry if you haven’t received yours yet, it’s coming! 🙂

The ramp up has been progressive but starting this week, the output will be much higher: we’re talking 500 to a thousand units per week going forward. This leads us to every Kickstarter backer being fulfilled by the end of April to mid May at the absolute latest, and every pre-order and recent order on our website in May which is on par with what we had announced in the last update.

What we are currently working on

Right now, one of our main objectives is to improve the number of units produced per month to meet demand around the world.

In parallel, our software team is working on bringing many improvements to the mobile app to make the SmartHalo experience smoother. Here’s what we’re cooking up for the next app update:

  • Help cards per feature: we’re going to do a better job of showing how each feature works!
  • Having better support pages available in the app for those who need help
  • Better handling of roundabouts (especially important for our European friends!)

First user feedback

The first few backers who received their units had pretty cool comments about the product, here’s a few choice quotes:

 

Needless to say, we’re really thrilled to see units in the hands of backers out there! What started as an idea 3 years ago has finally materialized and we couldn’t be happier. We know you’re anxious to get your devices, it’s coming! You’ll receive your tracking number as soon as your unit leaves the warehouse.

Feature Spotlight: Navigation

One of the cornerstones of SmartHalo, the Navigation feature makes sure you get to your destination the safest way possible: not only will it make you take bike paths when available, but it’s minimalist interface makes sure you can keep your focus on the road.


Before a Trip: In The App

The first step in setting up a trip is to set your destination in the Navigation tab of the app. Anyone who’s ever used a mapping app will feel right at home.

You can use the search engine to search for addresses or places (a restaurant’s name for example) or you can long press anywhere on the map. Once you’ve selected a destination, the app will automatically show you the best path to destination (FYI, we’re currently working on offering more than one path and the possibility of adding waypoints!). You can also view the distance to your destination and the estimated time to arrival. As with other mapping apps, you can add places to your favorites, or define them as your home or work.

Once you’re set, you can press that seducing “play” button to get going! You can then tuck your phone safely in your pocket: SmartHalo will take it from there.


During a Trip: On SmartHalo

There are two navigation modes included with SmartHalo. The default mode is turn-by-turn: this will show you each turn to take to reach your destination the best way possible. For the more adventurous: there is compass mode. With this mode active, SmartHalo will always point towards your destination, how you get there is up to you.

The Turn-by-turn Signals

Turn distance

SmartHalo’s interface is as intuitive as it gets. When you’re a few meters from your turn, SmartHalo will emit a sound, letting you know you have a turn coming up.  A segment of the circular ring will light up in white pointing towards your turn. Then, as you get closer to the turn, you’ll see it fade to green. Once you’re at the turn, it blinks, letting you know you should be turning.


Turn angle

SmartHalo’s turn signals are pretty easy to understand: they basically mimic the angle of the upcoming turn, right on your handlebar. Once you complete the turn, they disappear.


Rerouting

Some construction work is blocking a suggested path? Or you just don’t feel like taking a turn SmartHalo is suggesting? No worries, once you skip a turn, it’ll reroute you in real time and compute a new path automatically.


Use caution

Some paths sometimes need to be taken with caution. These might include opposite one way streets you have to take for a few meters or pedestrian paths. We recommend you step off your bike for these segments.


Arrived at destination

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, SmartHalo will blink in green.


Compass mode

In compass mode, just let the pointer guide you to your destination. The closer you get, the greener it becomes.


Find your bike

Having one of those days when you seem to forget everything, including where you parked your bike? Luckily, SmartHalo’s app will always remind you of your bike’s last known location.

***

That’s it for navigation! In the next blog post, we’ll show you how SmartHalo’s smart light works.

It’s happening

Hey guys,

Since the plan was to start shipping before the end of the month, and that today is the 28th, we felt we owed you a quick update!

Here we go – bullet point style:

  • Production is underway, and we have 500 PCBs (electronic circuit boards) manufactured;
  • We are now integrating these boards to plastic cases, adding the lock mechanism and closing these cases;
  • The method is working as expected, now we’re focusing on ramping it up as quickly as possible;
  • We will imminently be receiving boxes of SmartHalo at the office, and these will be transferred right away to our fulfillment partner;
  • Quick reminder: the production is out of Montreal’s south shore, about 20km from our offices;
  • Production will scale up in the next few days and weeks, and bigger production batches will be launched;
  • The SmartHalo app will go live on both the App Store and the Google Play Store as soon as we ship our first devices;
  • You will receive a tracking number once your unit leaves.

All that to say that we are a few days off schedule, but really wanted to communicate to you that things are moving!

Our goal is to have completed the fulfillment of all of our Kickstarter rewards and pre-sale orders by mid-April. As soon as we have exact details on the production volume that will follow the first batch, we’ll update you on the schedule.

We’re right there guys – it’s happening!

February 2017 Production Update

Hi fellow cyclists,  

We’re almost there: we have received the first 48 units from the first production run. This was to find out any potential hurdles linked to mass production. We’re happy to report that we’ve cleared all minor challenges that were revealed and that we’re launching full production. So, as we announced in the last update, the first units will ship at the end of this month.

We are manufacturing in batches, therefore it is expected that not all backers will get their device at the same time. The moment you’ve pledged to the project determines your rank in our shipping list. When your SmartHalo is shipped, you will receive a tracking number by email. Also, we will keep updating you as batches are shipped.

Finally on the software side, our app has been approved in both the App Store and the Google Play Store but they are not published yet. We’ll make both apps available as soon as the we ship the first units under the name SmartHalo – Bike smarter.

As always, don’t hesitate if you have any questions!

January 2017 Production Update

Hi everyone!

We’d like to begin this update by wishing you the best for the new year. 2017 will be a big one for us and we consider ourselves lucky to have you, our backers, on board with us. We’ve been biking with SmartHalo units in the snow with fellow Montreal backers during the last couple of weeks and we can tell you that it feels great, with the experience getting better and better each week as we tweak the algorithms that power our device.

Shipping was scheduled to begin early January. Unfortunately, we’ve had a minor production hiccup regarding our plastic top which means delivery will be delayed by a few weeks, leading us to February. But this is not a huge delay, we’re almost there! While we were very disappointed by the news, we still have some exciting progress to present to you today.

So let’s start by this small set back, and then the good news will follow. 🙂

What happened?

As we’ve detailed in past updates, the last few months were spent gathering and vetting the quality of each of these components. At the time of the last update, we only had one final issue to settle in our plastic casing and we were good to go. It was supposed to be a matter of days to solve.

This small problem with our plastic casing has proven to be bigger than what was first thought: some molding marks that normally would’ve disappeared with regular tweaking seen in every plastic production, ended up staying for good, thus affecting the appearance of the casing, as you can see below. To counter this, we’ve had to bring some small changes to the way that part is molded. Even though these tweaks are relatively minor (they will result in almost no physical change to the device), it still involved going back to the drawing board.

This new plastic casing is now in production which means we’ll be able to jump into full product assembly by January’s end, with units coming out of the factory in February. We expect a usual production ramp up, which means it might take a few weeks before everybody receives their units.

We know we’ve required a lot of patience from you guys, but we are THIS close to shipping, so we’re asking you to bear with us. As always, we will do anything we can to answer your questions or worries, so don’t hesitate to write to us, we will answer as fast as we can.

Some goodies

In the meantime, we also have lots of cool info to share! First, we’d like to show you SmartHalo in action so you can see how much we’ve progressed and how close we are to a final product:




In the last few weeks we’ve also done some stress tests (environmental and vibration) and the product withstood everything we threw at it which is great news. The only weather condition it likes less is extreme cold (batteries don’t like cold, just like your phone hates when it’s -10C / 14F!). Luckily, during winter time, you can easily remove SmartHalo from your bike between trips thanks to our HaloKey™.

In other news, we’ve also completed the product packaging in the last weeks which you can see here in all its glory:

Shipping

Since we are that close of shipping our first units, we would like to remind you of the importance of having an up-to-date shipping address in our database. Here is how to do it:

  • If you are a Kickstarter backer, you can review your survey and change your address by visiting the project page and clicking the ‘View Pledge’ button next to the project image. You’ll notice an option at the top of this modal (under the Survey tab) that will allow you to edit your shipping information. Note that this can only be done from the Kickstarter website and not from the Kickstarter app;
  • If you bought from Indiegogo: log in to your account and select ‘My Contributions’. Once you’ve located SmartHalo, click ‘View Order Details’. From there, you can change your address by selecting ‘Edit Shipping Address’. Make sure to hit the Save button once you’re done updating. Note that you can not change your shipping country on Indiegogo. If you have to, just send us an email at hi@smarthalo.bike;
  • If you bought from our website: please contact us at hi@smarthalo.bike with the email address you used for the purchase. We will update your shipping address ourselves.

Website

Finally, since we’re getting close to release, we’ve updated our website to really show how SmartHalo works.

Thank you for your support!

December Production Update

Hello,

Time for some updates on what is most likely to be our last Production Update before we ship!

Production Timeline

During the first two weeks of December, we will be testing the production line with short production runs. This allows to fine tune the assembly of SmartHalo by the thousands and catch any potential hiccups in the process. It’s also a good moment to see how our testing stations perform. As we detailed before, these tests make sure every SmartHalo unit we produce come out with no defects.

During the third and fourth weeks of the month, the first assembled circuit boards will be produced. Since first production runs take more time (more time is dedicated to quality assurance tests), we’re aiming to have around 500 units ready to ship the end of December. Since we have every component in stock already, it’s just a matter of time before thousands of SmartHalo devices are assembled and shipped.

We expect most of you to receive your units in January (a few lucky ones might still receive it by the end of December!). We will obviously ship to our Kickstarter Backers first.

rsz_timeline_en

Survey update

A few of you have mentioned changing addresses since you placed your pre-order. No worries, you can easily change your address:

  • Click on “Order Lookup” in your confirmation email
  • Get in touch with us by email

You can be sure we’ll update you with the latest info as units come out of the production line. As always, don’t hesitate should you have any questions!

November Production Update

Folks,

We have entered the final stretch of our journey and couldn’t be more excited. As we gear for production, we thought it would be a good idea to update you on SmartHalo’s progress.

Casing

All of the molds for our plastic components have been machined over the summer and we have been busy testing them out. We received a round of “first shots”  of all the components in the beginning of last month. Plastic injection being a complex process, these so called “first shots” allow us to validate the mold design as well as the flow and cooling of the resin. We are glad to announce that most of our parts came out exactly as designed. This being said, we’re having minor issues with SmartHalo’s polycarbonate front lens.

SmartHalo components

SmartHalo’s plastic component

The bottom half of the SmartHalo main casing, assembled using an overmolding process to make sure it is weather resistant, has revealed a slight problem, as can be seen below:

SmartHalo Casing

The dark spot represents where the plastic has melted

Luckily, an alternative has already been figured out and the updated method is underway. Since we had accounted some time for unforeseen events this shouldn’t impact our timeline.

Firmware

SmartHalo’s firmware, the onboard brain that helps display information on SmartHalo’s outputs (our circular interface, the alarm, the sound notifications, the front light) and gathers sensor data to refine navigation, and should be ready for release by the end of next week. The final piece of the puzzle is to refine the orientation data we gather from sensors used for the “As the crow flies” navigation mode (which, instead of guiding you turn-by-turn, just always points you in the right direction).

App

The last few months of testing have helped us refine the user experience of our app and figure out some critical bugs. Since the app can always be updated in the future, we have opted to focus on our core features to make them as good as we could instead of trying to have everything ready for launch but somewhat half-baked. This means that some of the secondary features such as the social components will be delivered after launch. Don’t worry though, all core features (Navigation, Light, Alarm, Fitness and Assistant) will be available of course! We think you will be pretty excited to discover new features as we release them post-launch.

Electronics

Our circuit design is currently being reviewed and validated for mass production. This is a final step to make sure our PCBs are designed in a way that can be reproduced by machines that can print them and assemble the components on them (commonly known as PCBA – Printed Circuit Board Assembly) by the thousands per day.

Production Line and Timeline

We’re working with our production partner to secure time on their assembly lines to pump out tons of SmartHalo units. We expect units to start shipping by the end of December through the month of February – first runs are often slower because we have to ensure the quality of each step in the mass-production process. Our focus is on delivering a quality, defect-free product.

The team during a weekly hardware update

The team during a weekly hardware update

We do appreciate your patience should this process take a bit more time than expected. We will obviously keep you updated, just as we have in the past.

Cheers,

The SmartHalo Team

 

Get all the SmartHalo news!

 

Production Update : Testing (part 3)

As you saw in Production Updates 1 and 2, we test the performance of SmartHalo each step of the way as we prepare for production. We test to find bugs, malfunctions, loopholes, etc. We do these tests to make sure SmartHalo is working correctly and as we expect it to. But we also need tests to make sure that SmartHalo is easy, natural, and enjoyable to use, which can only be tested one way: by letting people try it out.

The last part of our testing series focuses on user tests. We recruit volunteers from within the office and in the city to perform the user tests. The tests are broken up into different sections so we can pinpoint where the issues are:

  • on the street
  • the application
  • the touch interface
  • the packaging
  • unboxing and installation of the product
  • SmartHalo abroad

Each section can take quite a bit of time, so the volunteers will usually only come to the office to test one of these sections. So far, we’ve completed tests on the street, in the app, for the packaging, unboxing, and installation. We’re also in the process of testing abroad. Here is how the tests go!

Testing SmartHalo on the streets

Testing on the streets is the most fun because we get to go outside! The user rides a snazzy test bike from Moose Bicycles, fully equipped with SmartHalo. They choose a destination with the app that’s within 2km of our starting point. We try to test a route with a lot of turns. At the end of the trip, the user answers questions so we can identify their opinions and feelings towards the navigation, here are some examples of questions we’ve asked:

  • What did you think about the timing of turn notifications? Did you think it was too early or too late?
  • What did you think about the sounds coming from SmartHalo?
  • Was there a point in the trip where there wasn’t enough information given to you?
  • Was there a point in the trip when there was too much information given?
  • Were you ever frustrated or confused?
Testing SmartHalo in the streets: from a handmade device to a finished product

Testing SmartHalo in the streets: from a handmade device to a finished product

Evaluating SmartHalo’s application

We are testing the app to make sure that the general layout is intuitive and that the controls for each feature make sense (Navigation, Light, Alarm, Fitness, and Assistant). The user starts by creating an account, and then they go into each of the features. After they explore the app, we ask them questions similar to the questions after navigation. You can see the test jig we use below. The jig holds the phone at the bottom and a camera up top, so we can record how the users use the app. These videos help us communicate the problems to the rest of the team, because seeing is believing.

Our set up to record the tests

Our set up to record the tests

Reviewing the packaging, unboxing and installation

We were very lucky to collaborate with a group of students from a User Experience Program at HEC Montreal for these tests. The group recruited both users who had and had not heard about SmartHalo. The users were given the SmartHalo box and they shared their interpretation and opinion for the packaging, to confirm that we communicated the product effectively. Then the user opened the box and followed instructions to install SmartHalo on a set of handlebars. This process helped us fine-tune the instructions, now we’re confident that anyone can successfully turn their bike into a smart bike!

Installation test lead at the office

Installation test lead at the office

Testing SmartHalo outside of Montreal

Navigating through PragueThis summer we tested SmartHalo navigation in Belgium, the Czech Republic, and the US. Check out that blog post if you want to hear about those tests! Since the majority of our navigation testing takes place downtown Montreal these tests are really important to see how SmartHalo responds to different environments. These places may have different GPS accuracy and precision, different road sizes and intersections, and different bike path networks. The app has also been tested in Hong Kong and in the near future we’re going to be testing the app in other parts of Asia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After each round of testing, we create a report that summarizes the feedback we received from the users and the obvious trends that we saw. In addition to this report we take note of every single piece of feedback we get and decide if it’s something we want to seriously consider. The team leads and test designers sit down and decide which changes to make, then these changes are turned into tasks and are assigned to people in the office. This process has led to tweaks in the way we display navigation, changes to the fitness section of the app, and revisions to the installation process.
The testing process can take some time but it leads to really important changes in SmartHalo. We’re confident that these tests will lead to an amazing product that people love to use!

 

Get all the SmartHalo news!

 

Production Update: Testing (part 2)

A few weeks ago, we published the first post of a series about testing. We talked about how we use functional tests to validate each of the products output on the assembly line. Today we return with the second part: software tests.

We have a strong focus on testing here at SmartHalo, and by using various types of tests, we can ensure that we’re delivering a high-quality product. The ultimate goal of our software tests is to ensure that our code is error-free and easily maintainable over the long-term. We plan to continuously improve the app that we’ll deliver to you on launch day (in December); our suite of tests ensure that we can release these improvements without breaking existing functionality.

To achieve that goal, we use a gamut of testing methodologies at SmartHalo. Each methodology looks at the code from a different perspective: from the view of a developer, from the view of the user-experience designer (UX designer) and finally from the view of an end-user. We’ll explain each perspective in turn.

Developer Tests

Tests that are run from a developer perspective allow our team to work on different parts of the system without introducing errors. Software systems are made up of complex, interacting components. It’s impossible to keep all of these components in your head at once, so we create test cases for each component in isolation as well as the interactions between components. When a developer finishes a feature, they run these automated tests to ensure there haven’t been any bugs introduced before they share their code with the rest of the team. These kinds of tests are usually called unit tests or integration tests, and at SmartHalo we have a suite of them for each software component.

UX Designer Tests

Once a week, we release all of the features that have been completed, and that’s when we run tests from the perspective of the UX designer. The UX designer is the advocate of the end-user on the SmartHalo team, and the tests we run at this point are to ensure that the app does what we expect it to do. These tests are called acceptance tests, and at SmartHalo we run acceptance tests on each of the mobile apps (iOS and Android) as well as the software that powers the hardware device (aka the firmware).

User Tests

The last types of tests we run are at the user perspective, and they are a different type of test entirely. Whereas the last two types of tests were checking for correctness, user tests focus on quality of the finished product. We’re actually going to do a full post on user testing, so we won’t give too much away, but basically we set up the tests by asking questions like, “Can users successfully enter a destination?” or “Does SmartHalo give the user enough warning before a turn?”.

Testing the app with users

Claire, who is in charge of the user tests, came up with a smart solution to record how users interact with our app.

By framing the tests as usability questions, the product owner gains valuable information on how users actually use the app, and can create tasks for the software team to make the app better. This feedback cycle is the basis for the agile software development approach.

Testing a product with as many moving pieces as SmartHalo may sound like an onerous task, but it gets a lot easier when you break down the tests. From the beginning, our focus has always been quality. The tests are a big part of our plan to make a lovable bike accessory (and companion app) for our backers.

In our next update, we’ll talk more in depth about the user tests. Stay tuned!

 

Get all the SmartHalo news!

 

SmartHalo: Your Ultimate Travel Companion

Hi guys, Claire speaking! I am the SmartHalo UX Test Designer, one of the lucky people who gets to test SmartHalo out on the streets! Recently, I went to visit my parents in Europe and I brought a prototype of the SmartHalo to test abroad. I discovered that it made a great travel companion so I wanted to share an overview of my bike rides and some travel tips for 3 of the best cities in Europe.

SmartHalo goes to Europe!

The city of Leuven

Leuven, Belgium

The first city where I tested the SmartHalo to was Leuven, Belgium, where the Stella Artois beer is brewed. I was volunteering for a BEST Europe sustainability course at the university KU Leuven. SmartHalo took me onto new streets and to parts of the city I wouldn’t have otherwise thought to explore. I biked through the beautiful KU Leuven campus, along the Sint-Donatuspark park and into the main square. I also went along the river and stopped at the Dijleterrassen, where the fire department pulls out an average of 500 stolen bikes every year! Maybe we should start looking for our stolen bikes in the St. Lawrence… Highlights of my time in Leuven were tasting Belgian waffles, eating fries with mayo and exploring Oude Markt, the longest street of pubs in Europe. Leuven has great bike paths and the students in this city are a blast to be around!

Enjoying summertime in Plzeň

Claire and her folding bike

My folding bike and me

Next, I tried out SmartHalo in Plzeň, Czech Republic, where my parents live and where the famous Pilsner Urquell beer is brewed. Europe actually has a lot of interesting beers! My friend Kari (check her blog Travelling Mug) came to visit and we rode my parents’ vintage foldable bikes around the city. SmartHalo held up well on the cobblestone streets and we went for a great bike ride along the river and into the main square. Plzeň has two free outdoor rock climbing walls and lots of outdoor rollerblading tracks and beach volleyball courts, all biking distance from the main square. In addition to having delicious beer, Plzeň also has tons of ice cream stands, cafes, restaurants and parks, making it a relaxing, refreshing and inexpensive side trip from Prague.

Bringing my travel companion to Prague

Lunch in Prague

Lunch in Prague

My mother and I took our bikes on the train from Plzeň to Prague on a mission to find bike touring bags. From the train station, we had SmartHalo navigate us to CityBikes, in a part of Prague that neither my mother nor I had been to before. We made it to the bike shop without any confusion or incorrect turns, and with extra time to look around at the buildings and people. From there we navigated to Domácí těstoviny, one of my favourite places to eat in Prague. On our way there we passed by the Zizkov Television Tower, a famous (and in my opinion, weird) transmitter tower with sculptures of babies crawling up on it. My mother even put the SmartHalo on her bike.

Some travel tips

The city of Prague

Prague

It’s really easy to bring your own bike around Europe by train, most trains have a car with bicycle racks that can accommodate for about 12 bikes. It usually cost between 10 to 30€ to bring your bike but the spots can fill up fast, so you need to book your ticket a few days in advance. If train spots are full you can usually take your bike on a bus too.

I also picked up a Use-it map at hostels or tourist offices for each of these three cities. The maps are made by locals and designed as a hybrid between a city guide and a map. They are free, targeted for young travelers, and help you get off the beaten path to discover what makes each city special.

In order to use most of your travel companion’s features, you will need data on your smartphone. I bought a sim card in Europe (there are lots of companies, I used O2 and Vodaphone), it was cheap and allowed me to use my phone both in Belgium and Czech Republic.

***

Being able to use SmartHalo not only made my trips more exciting and interesting, it also gave me the freedom to look around and see the cities. Since I didn’t have to concentrate at looking for street names, it gave me the opportunity to see new things and to visit new areas and neighborhoods. SmartHalo also took the stress out of planning and navigating, adding to the fun of adventure and exploration. Right after my friends and family, SmartHalo was my ultimate travel companion!

 

Get all the SmartHalo news!