Community Update #1: How to Outsmart the Smartbox
As we continue to finalize the Eight cover, we want to share our successes and challenges with you. We are big believers in community-building and transparency, and documenting our progress gives you an insider’s view of bringing Eight to life. So, what are we currently working on? Let us tell you about it.
A) Mechanical design. The smart box is a component of Eight that we rarely go into detail about. It is the heart of Eight: serving as the gateway for powering the cover and also communicating with your Wi-Fi network or Bluetooth enabled devices. It is here where the connectivity elements of the product live.
What were the challenges? As we get close to finalizing the industrial and mechanical design of the smart box we had to think creatively about different aspects of the smart box like enclosure venting, on/off button functionality and placement, industrial design changes and material selection:
1. Venting: When we began testing the EVT1 units a few weeks ago we noticed that when the smart box was plugged in and on, it was getting too hot. This problem was the result of several factors, from the design of the enclosure to the size of the heating elements. So we went back to the drawing board and we came up with a solution to improve the venting of the smart box and avoid over-heating.
What is our progress? The solution we went for is a combination of industrial design changes to the enclosure (see graphic below) and adding resistance to the power cable.
2. On/off button: Since the very early stages of conceiving the product we battled between having or not a button in our smart box to control certain aspects of the cover functionalities. After extensive UX research we decided to add a button-like solution to control certain product functions.
What is our progress? We are now in the process of deciding the ID aspects of this solution: where will the button be placed, how it looks, and how does it relate to the behaviors and controls available in the Eight mobile app.
B) Industrial design:
What were the challenges? The changes in the venting and on/off button in the smart box required adjustments to the industrial design, so we reconvened with Moreless (our ID firm) to make sure we incorporated an elegant and functional design solution into the final product.
What is our progress? We are currently in the final stages of this next ID iteration and hope to share it with you during our next update.
C) Material selection:
What were the challenges? A key decision of the industrial design for the smart box is the selection of the material for the enclosure. We are testing and prototyping different material options to guarantee the most elegant and cost-effective option that provides a soft touch feeling.
What is our progress? Over the next weeks we will be receiving more prototypes of the enclosure and cables with different material options. So stay tuned for news and images about this during our next update. As always, we love to get your feedback, so feel free to contribute with suggestions of materials you have seen in other products. You can email us at [email protected]
D) Light behavior:
What were the challenges? The smart box includes a set of LED lights that, through a color scheme, lets you know whether the warming function is on or off, or it provides information related to things like connectivity status. Over the past two weeks the team has been finalizing and testing the behavior of these lights to ensure it communicates the status properly and it pairs well with the visual signals in the app.
What is our progress? The behavior is working and tests are underway. As of now, the light indicates when the warming feature is on and when it is off. We are taking these tests into stage 2, with customer discovery and testing to make sure the behavior is clear and we are not overseeing any details in color, intensity, light direction, etc.
Mechanical design: The cover-side connector and the technology behind it safely powers the system and gives life to your Eight, so we consider it a key part of our technology. But as key as it is, it has always been one of the biggest challenges for the team: how do we design something that provides an easy plug in and plug out experience?
Over the past 10 months we have continuously iterated upon different potential solutions for this challenge. We are now finally on the last iterations for the mechanical design of the cover-side connector. In the images below you can see the initial design proposals for the cover-side connector:
What were the challenges? For this design we feared it wouldn’t be strong enough to sustain constant pulling and tugging of bedsheets and blankets. We were concerned of the long-time wear and tear of the potential plugging and unplugging. So we needed to add certain design features to make sure it would last, while also maintaining it’s sleek look and feel.
What is our progress? The team decided to go for a solution in which the connector has magnets AND keying which prevent abrupt unplugging, which would interrupt the workings of the cover. It also avoids damaging the plug when getting it on or off your bed. The magnets are just there to facilitate the experience and make sure that the plug and unplug is smoother. They also keep your plug in place, no matter how much movement there is in bed or if bedsheets are pulled out of your mattress routinely.
10 TEMPERATURE ZONES
User experience: Initially, the Eight cover had only 2 temperature zones,one for each side of the bed (left and right). But when the campaign hit $750,000, we unlocked the 10 total temperature zones which was a highly requested feature in our Ideas Forum. Below is a graphic showing the distribution of these 10 heating zones in the cover:
What were the challenges? This apparently slight change in product design carries more complexities into the user experience, so we have been focused on analyzing, designing and, most importantly, testing the behavior of these 10 heating zones. Going from 2 to 10 heating zones meant first redesigning the distribution of the heating elements along the cover, so that there is a difference in density of heating elements between the zones. The densities are now distributed with a higher density in the lower back and feet areas. Aside from this hardware fix, it also required some work in our software to ensure that the heating behavior and interaction with the Eight app is working properly.
What is our progress? We are currently testing how long it takes for each side of the cover to heat up as well as which is the best wiring pattern and proper density to provide the most comfortable experience and the right amount of heat in each zone.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?
What challenges do we expect to face next?
- We need to finalize the industrial design of the smart box and take final decisions on the button and light behavior. These decisions are difficult because they have a great impact on the overall product experience, so they require a phase of discovery and user testing to make sure we decide on the right path.
- Start a second round of beta testing for the heating behavior of the cover. The challenge is a matter of time and managing the process with testers to ensure we are adapting the heating behavior to best meet our user’s expectations.
What do we expect to achieve over the next month?
We expect to finalize the industrial design of the enclosure and connector, and begin the design for tooling. We will also have some updates on the testing for the heating behavior of the cover and the light behavior of the smart box.
Stay tuned for more news to come as we get closer to shipping the first batch of Eight covers. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions please email us at [email protected]
All the best,
The Eight team