Vue is the world's first pair of smart glasses that are designed for everyday use. Offered in prescription, plano, and sunglasses.
Latest Updates from Our Project:
over 1 year ago
– Thu, Jun 01, 2017 at 01:03:31 AM
We have been quite busy since our last update, but are excited to share our progress with you! In the past month we've been evaluating prototypes, touring factories, and hiring new talent. Let's dive right in!
Printed Circuit Board Layout
As discussed in the April update, we identified some issues in our PCB that needed to be resolved. Since then, we’ve implemented the changes and begun evaluating them on a fully assembled unit.
1. PCB/Battery relocation: Recall from our previous update that we added a second battery and shifted the PCB to the arms of the glasses. We’re happy to say that we made samples with this new arrangement and it all fits.
2. Flex PCB: We also mentioned using a flexible printed circuit (FPC) to ensure that the components fit safely within the curvature of the glasses. We have redesigned the PCB architecture such that the batteries, bone conduction transducers, and rigid PCB are all connected by FPC sections. See the image below to understand how it all fits together.
3. Component height: We also rearranged components to reduce interference with the walls of the glasses. On such a small PCB, this was a tedious task. We’ve successfully assembled the PCB with components and can confirm that there is sufficient clearance within the glasses.
Our original LED location on the inner side of the arm of the glasses was meant to blink subtly in your peripheral vision. While testing, we’ve found that the LED is too far outside most people’s peripheral vision. Because of the hinge location, we have been unable to move the LED far enough toward the front of the glasses to make it more visible. The only way to make it visible was to boost the brightness of the LED—but that basically meant the LED was bright enough to shine noticeably across your entire face.
We have been exploring alternative LED placement, and decided to shift it to the front of the frames. The benefit here is that it falls well within your peripheral vision, making it hard to miss. By setting the LED brightness to a soft setting and adding a slow fade in/out, the result is actually quite nice. See the GIF below.
The new position of the LED ensures that notifications are visible yet soft enough to keep Vue discreet.
Preliminary CNC Testing
We have made new prototypes using a method called computer-numerical-control (CNC). CNC machines are able to automatically cut parts from solid blocks of material, resulting in a more precise and higher fidelity prototype than can be achieved with 3D printing. The next stage is to evaluate this design, fix flaws, and re-evaluate the fixes until we are satisfied with the quality. For example, we may find that a dimension is off by a fraction of a millimeter. Or we may find that the thickness of the plastic over the electronics is interfering with the antenna. Or we may find that a section of the FPC is too loose or too taut. This is an essential, iterative part of pre-production work, as any changes after tooling will be expensive and time consuming.
Once we are satisfied with the product’s performance, we can can begin cutting tools for injection molds. Check out some images of the CNC version below.
Progress is great, but we also want to make sure to give backers insight into the true complexity of manufacturing a product, and that includes talking about headaches. We detailed a few in our previous update, but we've also encountered some unexpected ones with our new CNC version.
One such example is the touch panel. The touch panel is mounted on the underside of the temple piece, and senses your finger's movement over the surface. Our previous prototypes were 3D printed and painted. When we CNCed our prototypes, we used a different kind of paint to finish them. It turns out that the new paint interfered with the touch panel's ability to sense gestures. When we were testing gestures on the CNC version, sometimes the glasses didn't detect anything at all. After mounting and re-mounting the panel, as well as conducting numerous tests, we finally determined that the paint contained small amounts of metal which affected the dielectric of the plastic, resulting in poor performance.
This doesn't impact timelines (since we fixed the issue), but as you can see, there are always unexpected outcomes during product development. This find just means we'll have to double-check the pigment used during manufacturing to make sure it is compatible with our touch panel.
When you manufacture a product, a lot of things have to happen in parallel. While we continue preparing our design for manufacturing, we must simultaneously evaluate contract manufacturers so that we can seamlessly transition from development to production. Below are the facilities we've been evaluating.
1. Injection molding factory: Injection molding is a process for producing parts by injecting material into a mold. For Vue, we will create molds for the plastic frames, and then assemble the electronics inside those frames.
Check out this brief video (credit: engineerguy) that provides a generalized visualization of injection molding.
Creating these molds requires careful precision and is very expensive, so it is important that we have finalized the product as much as possible before creating them. In the meantime, we’re evaluating top-notch injection molding facilities to make sure we’re ready to make a high quality product.
We’ve been impressed with the facilities we’ve seen so far, and are excited to select a quality partner to move forward with.
2. Testing & Design Facilities: In addition to touring manufacturing facilities, we've also been meeting with partners in the traditional glasses industry. We've established a partnership with a group that has helped us refine our designs such that our frames look like traditional glasses, as well as offered us the ability to use test equipment to evaluate our products. Check out some images from these trips below.
An example of a test that we'll be conducting is hinge fatigue. Below you can see a video used to test the lifespan of hinges on traditional glasses.
We plan to subject Vue to similar tests, perhaps on these very machines.
New hire—production manager!
We are thrilled to announce we have hired a full time production manager. After interviewing many candidates, we are happy to welcome Jia Yao to the team. Jia has over 10 years' experience in manufacturing and supply chain management. His experience spans a variety of products, including hardware, machinery, toys, and even furniture. Most recently, he spent ~3 years working as a mold design engineer at Foxconn, where he designed molds for computer products and saw them through to production.
We are confident that Jia's extensive experience in manufacturing consumer products will be a huge asset for Vue!
The immediate next steps are to review the new prototypes and electronics. This is an iterative process of identifying problems, creating a fix, re-printing PCBs, tweaking software, and conducting a systems test again. Once the prototypes meets our quality specs, we will then begin to cut molds for our frames, and will work toward mass production.
Surveys and Support
Just dropping another friendly reminder to check your email for your surveys (if you haven't already finished them). Also, remember the following:
If you chose plano (non-corrective) lenses or no lenses you will not receive a prescription survey.
We've extended the prescription deadline to June 30th, 2017.
If you would like to update your shipping info or check your order (style, color, etc) then you can use BackerKit's survey recovery tool to look up your order.
Until next time!
the Vue team
over 1 year ago
– Sat, Apr 29, 2017 at 12:21:26 AM
Thank you everyone for your patience with the prescription surveys. Because of the limited number of HIPAA-compliant survey providers, we had no choice but to split up frame style choices and prescription collection across two platforms. If you chose glasses with prescription lenses but still have not received a survey, please check your spam folder first. Although this seems like a silly suggestion, many backers have overlooked it. Please search for “firstname.lastname@example.org”, “email@example.com”, and a subject of “Vue Prescription Survey”. If you still haven’t found it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you out.
We’ll get straight to the point: we’ve encountered some technical challenges that have set us back. The issues have required a lot of rearranging of components on our printed circuit board (PCB) and required some shifting of part placement within the glasses. We want to be clear that we are prioritizing a quality product over rushing through things. Trying to implement quick fixes would jeopardize quality given the challenges we’ve been working through. With this in mind, we are scoping the delay at 3 months, until October.
We know this will be upsetting, and we share that feeling with all of you. The tricky part about staying on schedule is that small changes often have cascading effects, and require changes in other areas of the product that then result in longer delays.
That being said, overcoming these challenges absolutely means backers will receive a better product. At the end of the day, one of the hardest parts of manufacturing is picking a date in the future when you don't know what the future holds. Although these unexpected challenges have shown up, taking our time to resolve them is a net-positive for all of you because it means the product will be more reliable. With that said, let’s dive into what we’re working on.
Printed Circuit Board Layout
The effective “brains” of Vue live on the PCB. Things like the microprocessor, Bluetooth chips, amplifiers, microphone, and antennas sit on a thin laminated copper sheet within the glasses. Fitting our PCB into the small space of the glasses has been a challenge.
Our biggest issue has been around optimizing the PCB for production/assembly while keeping its footprint small enough to fit within the glasses. We’re happy to say that we’ve found ways to resolve these issues, but finalizing them is taking time. Here is a breakdown of the work we’ve done:
1) PCB/Battery relocation: Our original design had a battery in one end of the arms and the PCB in the other end, as seen in the technical explosion below.
While testing various components, we concluded that the battery size was not sufficient to support our features. While we could have sourced a bigger battery, it would mean changing the dimensions of the arms to accommodate it. Instead, we decided to place a second battery where the original PCB was, and then shifted the PCB under the touchpad. The new layout is as seen below.
This change adds only a minimal amount of weight, approximately 1.7 grams, but adds more battery capacity to help support Vue’s features.
2) Flex PCB: Given the small dimensions of our glasses, it has been challenging to fit our PCB inside the arms. To make sure Vue looks like regular glasses, we have introduced curvature into the arms. This small detail introduces a massive challenge to PCB design, since the PCB is a long rigid board. Our PCB would need to be bent in order to fit safely inside, otherwise it would contact the walls, as seen below.
Because of this, we need to use flexible printed circuits (FPC) combined with the rigid PCB. The battery and bone conduction transducer are connected via the FPC to the main PCB, as illustrated below. The rigid PCB is just long enough to fit inside the curvature, while the FPC can flex for the remaining length. This has involved a lot of tweaking of the PCB length and temple piece curvature to ensure the best combination of form and function.
It has taken a lot of time to design how the rigid PCB and FPC will fit together, and we will be testing the assembled version in the coming weeks. The good news is that this enables the electronics to fit inside the glasses without having to increase the width of the arms. Every millimeter of thickness adds weight, which is an important consideration for something worn on the face.
3) Component height: Each component on a PCB varies in height. Some components are barely noticeable while others may rise as much as 1.5mm above the PCB’s surface. We ran into an issue where components in certain locations were too tall for the curved section of the arms of the glasses. In order to resolve this, we’ve had to rearrange the components to ensure the components don’t interfere with the walls of the arms. Unfortunately, rearranging hundreds of small components within a small space is a very tedious task.
4) Chip change: We also decided to switch to a different microprocessor. The previous chip was 6mm in width whereas the new one is 5.5mm in width. Although this seems like a small change, this actually reduces the width of the production PCB which in turn lets us reduce the thickness of the arms by an additional 0.5mm.
The chip we switched to is also from a different manufacturer and therefore we have had to do some work to make sure our software is still compatible. Long term, this chip is actually a better choice because a) it is smaller and b) it is a chip more commonly used in wearable devices.
Step Counting Algorithm
Most recently, we tested our step counting algorithm against some leading industry wearable products and found that our accuracy was within 2.5%. This is a great baseline, and we’ll be able to push updates that constantly improve Vue’s ability to track your fitness.
Below are some images of us testing out our algorithms against the accelerometer data, which involves filtering out "noise" from other movements to accurately determine what is actually a step.
We've also been working on identifying different movements, such as nods or shaking of the head. As mentioned in the campaign, certain head movements could be used to control Vue (like answering/rejecting a phone call), so we'll need to be sure these movements don't get confused with steps.
Once the noise is filtered, we can count steps, and even do clever things like differentiate between running and walking. In the video below, we walk you through some real-time analysis of the accelerometer data and show you the differences between running and walking.
Bone Conduction Evaluations
In an ideal world, the quality of the audio directly from the bone conduction transducers would be the same as the quality from the transducers mounted in the glasses. However, because the transducers are mounted behind plastic, there will be differences. The following images shows us testing the quality of the transducers mounted in the glasses.
To test for differences, we can mount Vue in a test rig and have the transducers play a series of different frequencies. We then mount and test a control sample that plays the same series of frequencies and analyze the differences.
We will be continuing to run tests as we get closer to shipping so we can identify any potential tweaks during manufacturing that can help boost sound quality.
We saw some comments regarding the charging case, so we wanted to show a little more detail on the change. The improved case is substantially smaller and lighter, making it far more portable at this size.
We also settled on USB-C. It is obvious that the industry is migrating toward this standard, which will help simplify the charging process across devices. It makes sense for Vue to prepare for this new era and we have therefore committed to USB-C, seen below.
We will test the new charging cases in conjunction with the revisions to the glasses described above. We will post about our full system evaluations in the next update.
In the previous update we showed you some screenshots of the mobile app UI. Below you can see how those designs look on an actual phone. When you first open the Vue app, you'll see the following screen with the choice to "Join Vue" or "Log In" if you already have an account.
Below is a quick walkthrough of what the Log In process looks like. We will have the option to use Facebook Login, which will make the on-boarding process faster.
We will continue refining the design of the app and in future updates can start to show you the actual pairing process as well as how to setup and access specific features.
Manufacturing requires many careful steps. Here is a high-level plan for the next few months, and what you can expect to see in our monthly updates moving forward:
1) Engineering review units: We will fully assemble units with the new PCB/FPC and battery design and will test them on a full-system level along with the charging case. The glasses will be CNCed from plastic, instead of 3D printed. We’ll do thorough testing to make sure everything meets our technical specs, then we’ll move on to tooling. Expect to see videos and pictures from these tests.
2) Design review units: Here we will work with our manufacturing partners to cut tools for injection molding, make sure the tools meet our specs, and then we’ll run test shots. We’ll assemble units to evaluate our yield rate (how many units fail or break during production). We’ll make small improvements to boost yield and then move on to final testing.
3) Production review units: Here is where we assemble and test our units using our manufacturing processes and final components. This will then transition into mass production if everything meets our specs.
Thanks to everyone for your continued support on this journey. Delays are bummers, we know that. We wish we could avoid unforeseen bumps in the road. We will continue to work hard so that things can move as fast as possible while still guaranteeing that you will receive a quality product.
As always, shoot us a message or email with concerns, and otherwise stay tuned for our next update. Should be an exciting one!
the Vue team
Prescription, Development, and More!
almost 2 years ago
– Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 12:33:47 AM
Hey everyone, a bit of practical business to start this update off. We mentioned in the previous update that we were planning to charge for upgrades and add-ons. We're going to hold off on charging for these items until we are closer to shipping. We think this is the most responsible way to treat this additional pledge money, so that in the unlikely worst case scenario that we are unable to deliver, we have the ability to return the funds. We know that in rare instances, backers have had bad experiences with other projects, so we wanted to articulate to you that we're taking that unlikely scenario seriously.
We will still move forward with collecting prescriptions, which will occur on March 17th, 2017. The prescription survey will be sent out via email in waves, so it may take a few days for it to show up in your inbox. If you still have not completed your BackerKit survey, you will not receive a prescription survey. You must complete the BackerKit survey before we can send you the prescription survey. Below are some images of the questions you will be asked. Please check them out to get a sense of what type of information you will need.
Note the opening sentence in the survey, which indicates which pair of Vue you are editing. This is especially important for backers that chose multiple pairs—this will indicate which frame you are providing prescription for.
If you did not order progressive lenses, leave Question 2 blank. It is for progressive lenses only. If this is done incorrectly it may cause delays in your shipment when the frames are sent to the lens lab.
Depending on whether your Pupillary Distance (PD) was given to you as one or two numbers, you will be taken to a different page where you will enter the values. See the image below.
Please reach out to us directly via email or Kickstarter message if you are unsure about your values or if they are in a different format. We will keep this survey open for at least two months for you to make updates, and will notify you in advance when we anticipate closing it. Please note that this email will arrive via SurveyMonkey—make sure it is not going to spam!
We are using SurveyMonkey because they are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a US privacy standard which mandates certain practices when collecting health information. We take the collection of prescription very seriously, and want to ensure that we are using a safe, secure, and compliant platform to store your information. Finding the right HIPAA-compliant tool and setting it up has actually taken a considerable amount of work, but it was the right thing to do for this stage of the process.
And now on to some exciting development news. Let's start with the biggest updates first.
1. Charging case
In an earlier update we talked about design for manufacturing (DFM) and evaluating our prototypes to make sure they could be more easily manufactured and assembled. During our reviews, we saw an opportunity for improving the charging case. The previous case was heavy and large. A larger footprint for the case would make it less convenient for you to carry around. As this case is meant to be portable, we concluded that it was of paramount importance to make sure this case was smaller and more analogous to a traditional glasses case. We made the decision to change the design to reflect this, and we are really happy with the results.
The new charging case design is smaller, lighter, and more closely resembles a traditional glasses case. Check out the video below, where Tiantian can be seen opening and closing it, with the glasses inside. The Vue logo is seen engraved on the top, and the case features a magnetic latch which ensures the case remains shut when you're on the go (which is great for times where it might roll around in a backpack or purse).
In this design, the frames are set into a slot (as seen in the video) where the glasses rest against the charging contacts. This design change was critical and will greatly improve the user experience of Vue, particularly as it relates to portability and charging.
2. Mechanical design
We began noticing variability in the way the arms were folding. Certain frames had asymmetrical folding, which resulted in the arms interfering with each other such that one arm would not fold down, as seen below.
The problem had multiple root causes, primarily being that the hinge-design could not accommodate the thickness of the arms. Because of tolerance variations in previous prototypes, the problem was not always present. We redesigned the hinge so that the arms now lay flush and no longer interfere, as seen below. These are good problems to sort out early, as it would cause headaches and delays if the problem was not identified before mass production.
In addition to mechanical fixes, we've been working on the the more subtle design elements of the frames. Seen below is the Vue logo engraved into the inside of one of the arms.
We've also added a "Designed by Vue" engraving toward the front of the arms.
We also decided to source new bone conduction transducers. Our previous supplier was having consistent quality issues which resulted in a few problems, including wire detachment. We've since sourced new transducers that are much more reliable. Even upon visual inspection, the difference in quality is easily discernible. In the side-by-side image below, you'll notice that the old transducers (left) have jagged edges and the metal has disfigurements, whereas the new transducers (right) are cleaner cut and smooth.
We also decided to change from a 1.3W amplifier to a 2W amplifier, primarily based on real-world feedback that we received (in part from backers!) at CES and elsewhere. Our 1.3W amplifier was simply not yielding volume that was loud enough, which exacerbated the problem of bone conduction being hard to hear in louder environments. We'll be testing our new 2W amplifier to see how it impacts volume.
Work on the printed circuit board has been moving along nicely. In future updates, you'll start to see all of these hardware pieces coming together—at which point we can begin talking about FCC/CE testing, which are critical milestones for consumer electronic products. Below, while not very exciting, is a glimpse of what it looks like to design electronic component layouts on a computer.
Although there aren't as many in-process images with this topic, things have been progressing as scheduled. We've finished designing our Bluetooth protocol so our mobile app and device can talk to each other, as well as designed the chip protocol which defines how the Bluetooth and audio chip talk to each other.
Outside of this low-level software, we've also made great progress on our iOS app (don't worry—we'll be doing Android as well!). The app design is constantly being iterated and improved. Below are some of the newest screenshots of the UI.
We're also beginning to design the pairing instructions, which is one of the first ways that you will interact with your pair of Vue. Below are some mockups showing the various screens that you will be guided through in order to pair your Vue with your phone.
As we mentioned in our campaign, manufacturing is a dynamic process. We are constantly evaluating our work to make sure that we can deliver a product that we are proud of and that you will love. The changes discussed in this update are exciting and we believe firmly they are going to yield a better product and experience for all of you! As mentioned previously, we tried to build in some buffer time into our timeline to allow for changes like this. This early, it's difficult to see if there are going to be major impacts on delivery. Our schedule is tight and aggressive, but our progress has been steady and diligent. If anything changes, we'll let you know right away.
In the meantime, please review the images of our prescription survey so that you are prepared to provide us the correct information.
the Vue team
Surveys are coming!
almost 2 years ago
– Wed, Feb 01, 2017 at 11:24:03 PM
Hey everyone—surveys will be sent out over the next few days. We are using BackerKit, which is an awesome platform that makes it easy for you to customize your Vue frames and ensure they get shipped to the correct address!
BackerKit = Frames
Because of certain regulations related to storing prescription information, there will be two parts to our survey. The first part will be via BackerKit, and will allow you to customize your frame's style, color, and lenses as well as provide us with your address. You can also change your pledge, adjust your lens type, or add items like extra charging cases.
The second survey will come later, and will collect your prescription only. You will have approximately one month to complete the frame surveys on BackerKit, after which we will send out surveys to collect your prescription for your frames. That survey will be sent out on a HIPAA compliant platform that ensures our prescription data collection meets regulatory requirements.
How will I get the survey?
BackerKit surveys are sent out via email—so please check your inbox and spam to ensure that you are getting it. Please note the following important info regarding the surveys:
A message will be sent to the email you have associated with your Kickstarter account, the same email where you receive these updates.
If you used Facebook to login to your Kickstarter account, the BackerKit survey link will be sent to the email you used for your Facebook account. If you have another email you prefer it to be sent to, please message us.
How does it work?
When you get the survey you'll be able to see the reward you pledged to and the amount you personally pledged. You'll be asked to select your frame style, frame and temple color, and the lenses that you want. If you choose lenses for which you did not pledge enough money, your price will update, and you'll be able to pledge the difference by using your credit card.
If you wish to change your pledge to a completely different level, you are able to do this by clicking the "Want to switch your pledge level?" button pictured below.
Please note that if you change your pledge or choose lenses for which you didn't already pledge money for, your pledge total will change and you will need to pledge more money via a credit card to make up the difference.
We also have additional items you are able to back, pictured below. These items include additional Vue frames, charging cases, and t-shirts.
Also pay special attention to the lens options. If you select a lens that includes the phrase "non-corrective" it means that there will be no corrective/prescription strength in the lens. That means you will not receive a follow-up survey to collect your prescription.
If you have questions regarding the survey, BackerKit, your order, or anything else please don't hesitate to reach out. You will have a while to fill out this info, and we will be here to walk you through it. Message us directly on Kickstarter or at email@example.com.
Chinese New Year
As many of you may know, many people around the world have been celebrating Chinese New Year. This is a huge national holiday in China, and as a result our vendors, partners, suppliers, and more have been on holiday. Things will be booting back up over the next week or so, at which point we'll be back to work with them.
We've still been hard at work preparing this survey and working on the glasses. We'll have some exciting updates coming your way in February. Stay tuned!
the Vue team
CES 2017 Roundup
about 2 years ago
– Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 11:08:36 PM
Hey backers! As mentioned in the previous update, we had the chance to exhibit at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. We wanted to post a quick update to showcase our experience!
For those that are unfamiliar, CES is an annual trade show that showcases new products and technologies in the consumer electronics industry. It's always a busy and chaotic event, with more than 170,000 people attending from around the world. We were in the Eureka Park area of the Venetian hotel, alongside many other startups.
A few of our backers also managed to stop by to chat. It was so great meeting some of you face-to-face. Below are some images as well as a few brief videos where backers provided us with their impressions of the Vue prototypes!
The Vue team was honored to receive the SVIEF Innovation Award while at CES. It was a great opportunity—and we received an awesome plaque to go with it!
Now that CES has ended, it's back to business as usual. We're getting closer with the survey, so expect to see that relatively soon! Conversations with manufacturing partners have been continuing, and we'll be on the ground in the next few weeks to continue DFM improvements to get closer to production.