03 September, 2020

Final Stretch: The First Pre-production Samples

Hello fellow backers, 

We’re almost at the finish line! Just before we flip the switch of mass production, we wanted to show you the first pre-production unit, which looks like the device you’ll receive. We’ll also give you an update on production and a tentative shipping schedule.

 

Final pre-production unit

Here it is! The first pre-production sample.

This unit is meant to look like a final off-the-shelf device, as it uses almost all the same components and production methods to assemble it. Little disclaimer: the screen finish is not final –  the PeekDisplay will be less recessed for final mass production.

Let’s break it down with some sexy hardware pics, shall we?

This is a unit with proper textures and finish. Only some minor adjustments to the top surface have yet to be made. We chose a deep black for the casing’s colouring, to make the device blend with any type of bike and handlebar.

As with any hardware project, some compromises have to be made along the path from prototype to production. To maximize display visibility during daylight, we had to reduce the “dead front” effect. 

What’s the dead front effect? It’s when you can’t distinguish between the screen and the outer black mask. But since our device will often be used in broad daylight, we had to reduce the display tint a notch, which makes the PeekDisplay borders visible. For us, it was a matter of function over form. 

As you can see, we now have a proper chrome reflector for the front light. Combined with a more powerful LED, this helps concentrate photons which results in a brighter front light. It also spreads light in a more efficient way compared to the first SmartHalo. 

Here’s SmartHalo 2 on a Quarter Lock Mount. Yep, with the provided adapter, you can use your device on any beloved Quarter Lock Mount! This is really useful when switching your unit on a road bike for example (…because you DO have more than one bike, right?). Quarter Lock Mounts are not included with SmartHalo 2, but we will sell custom SmartHalo branded ones, stay tuned. 

This shows the bottom of your device, the anti-theft mount and your HaloKey. With the USB port cover, we make sure no water makes it in. You can notice the intricate details of the locking mechanism which took us quite some time to get right. To unlock your device, you simply need to insert your key under your device and rotate it. Unlike SmartHalo 1, you don’t need your key to attach SmartHalo 2 on your handlebar. The mechanism is also sturdier and more reliable than before.

 

Details invisible to the naked eye are also part of this design. For example, to make sure our device withstands water infiltration, we apply a scellant in every junction using a CNC machine. Pretty neat, huh? 

 

Production and shipping schedule

We’re currently in the process of validating this pre-production unit. This means validating the mechanical integrity as much as the look and feel of the device. If all is up to spec – and right now, it looks pretty good – we’ll be able to complete a 500 unit initial ramp-up, the first step of mass production. 

In this low-volume run, we’re testing each of our processes to make sure they work at scale. We want to assemble units cost-efficiently while making sure they are up to our (admittedly high) standards. This includes flashing and testing each SmartHalo 2 – we’ve built custom testing jigs dedicated to this. Adjustments in this phase are expected, which is why it usually takes a few back-and-forths to get it right (especially when done remotely – we still can’t travel to China). 

Once these adjustments are made, the next phase of mass production is launched. We’re aiming to complete 5000 units per week in the last half of September. We’ll build 20,000 units in total over the next few weeks! This means the first units should start going out of the factory during the last days of September and gradually make their way to you. 

Please be aware we are dependent on Chinese logistics for delivery. As you may know, there are less passenger planes flying every day than before the pandemic. This means carriers have less capacity and products coming out of China can take longer to be put on a plane. We’re still hopeful we can get through this last bit quickly. We will let you know as we gather more info. With global shipping slowdowns, that means you should start receiving units in October

 

Shipping Survey

With the shipping date getting closer and closer, we’re preparing the shipment survey: expect it soon. It will allow you to give your delivery information. As a bonus for backers, you’ll also be able to order more discounted devices, as well as accessories.

-The SmartHalo Team

Update – Sept. 4th 2020

Regarding dead front effect

We appreciate your passion on this topic and we hear you loud and clear. We want to build a device you’ll love so we take this at heart. 

After having shared the valuable feedback of this latest batch of samples, we have received more details from the manufacturing team which we hope will reassure you (it did for us). We also have the opportunity to make some game-time tweaks which we think will alleviate your concerns. 

First of all, we should have mentioned that on this round of samples, the OLED display is not bonded to the top lens with optically clear adhesive (known as “OCA Bonding”). Therefore, it’s not sitting flush with the top lens, which creates a visually striking contrast and depth effect. Reducing this gap also mitigates the paleness of the OLED, as no light can bounce off the surfaces that separate the OLED and the lens. This will be fixed in production: the display will be flush and more contrasted. 

The second challenge is that we need to find the balance between visibility during the day and the slickness of the infinite display. For SmartHalo 1, it wasn’t an issue since we didn’t need to have a clear window to reveal our new PeekDisplay – we could have a homogeneous blurring tint all over the top surface. For SmartHalo 2, we need to have a blurring surface for the LEDs (otherwise you get hotspots which don’t look great), a clear see-through surface for the PeekDisplay and a general tint to get the dead front effect right. The early prototypes achieved this look, but the visibility during the day was too low. We spent the last months figuring out this delicate balance.

Arguably, with these latest samples, we didn’t hit the right balance. As a solution, we’ll add a few percentages of smoke to get us closer to the previous tint we had, without sacrificing the daylight visibility as much as our darkest lenses. Combined with the OCA bonding, this will result in a cleaner looking device that is still visible enough during the day. As a benchmark, we’re using cycling computers: in our tests, our device was only slightly less bright. 

We will publish a new update as soon as we receive new samples with the changes we just listed. Please note these changes shouldn’t affect the timeline. Again, thank you for your feedback and your patience.

Curious about the SmartHalo collection?