Kokoon January update: Testing progress
Welcome to another Kokoon update! This time we’re going to cover progress with our ear-cups, addressing some of the issues we highlighted in the previous update, update on colours, give some detail on issues encountered in testing and also Kokoon at CES.
We’ve been hard at work testing our ES3 samples over the past three weeks and identified a few more areas that we need to work on over the coming weeks/months to ensure a great final product.
The Headband has some slight challenges with the cushioning under the end cap. It responded in a slightly different fashion to the cushioning across the rest of the body. While the main cushion sunk down, the end cushion didn’t sink as much. This creates a slight pressure point which can cause discomfort. We are investigating how to ensure consistency here.
The cushioning in question – you can see the area at the end is raised slightly
There are also some finishing issues with the fabric “bunching” at the ends. This is a minor issue, but you can see in the image below a noticeable bump appeared where the fabric joined the headband end caps. This was after extensive use and testing, it should be easy fix and something we’ll address in the coming weeks.
Ear-cup construction challenges were identified as well, though we expect the majority of these to already be corrected in the updated design we talked about earlier.
We saw after extensive hard testing that the flexible outer plastic (covered with the fabric) came away from the body on occasion and required us to glue it back in place. This should be addressed in the latest ear-cup.
Construction issues developing after extensive testing
We also saw a gap could develop between the white ear cushion holder fitting and the flexible outer plastic covered with the fabric. This was in part due to excess fabric around the edge of the fabric covered shell which is easily addressed. We also noticed that with very heavy handling the fabric shell could come away from the ear cushion.
Finishing issues after heavy use
These are relatively minor issues, and you can read on below about how we are addressing some of them.
Mechanics update: Ear-cups and fabrics
In update #32 – we showed some images and talked about some of the challenges we had with the audio seals on our latest ‘ES3’ samples. We’ve made great progress in addressing these over the past three weeks and are happy to show some detail on that here.
Our ear-cups separate the cushioning from the acoustic seal in order to allow for cool, ventilated, comfortable cushioning as well as a fully sealed acoustic chamber for high quality audio and ANC. Recent audio tests have shown that our silicon seals, although sealing the acoustic chamber well, meant the audio characteristics were not up to standard. We have therefore decided to change our silicon acoustic seals to be acoustic cushions, as shown in the image below. This change has improved our passive noise cancellation and allowed for improved ANC and audio frequency response without compromising the ventilation of the surrounding cushioning.
Acoustic cushions, headband fabric and earcup fabric from supplier
New acoustic cushion and earcup cushion
Short video of acoustic cushioning being cut
You can see in the prototypes above that these are not finished to production standard, but are already performing very well. All these changes have been incorporated into our latest sample, and our headphones are now sounding and feeling better than ever.
The greatest challenges the mechanical team are facing is ensuring the fabrics are mass manufacturable, robust, and high quality. Unlike other mechanical parts, fabrics are difficult to spec due to fabric elasticity, stitch lines, and the production process. Our mechanical engineer and quality manager therefore spent several days on-site with the fabric supplier with the latest prototype to go through iterations of the fabric parts (headband fabric, earcup cushioning, and acoustic cushion) until they were up to our high standard.
Improved EEG interface and stitch line alignment
Improved for end cap assembly
While the factory is on Chinese New Year holiday (新年快乐 to those of you who are celebrating today!), we will be testing our latest samples, incorporating the new acoustic cushion and fabric parts, to perform extensive testing. Although we have of course been testing the product throughout development, this phase of testing will provide insight into the whole user experience of the near-final product and allow us to make any final modifications to the headphones before we go into mass production.
In the meantime, we will also continue to tweak fabric parts to improve assembly and ensure our final product is of the high quality you all deserve!
We’ve noticed a number of comments on Kickstarter over the past months about the current colour selection for the headphone images that we’ve been showing. Having reviewed this internally we agree that there are some changes we could make to deliver a better product to our backers.
It is important the our headphones look great, and they are a product that backers can be proud of, however we also want to ensure the longevity of them and that they stay looking great even after a lot of use. Some of you suggested that the relatively light shades on the headband underside fabric may start to look grubby over time. We have seen some evidence of this in our testing to date.
We have therefore come up with some tweaks to the colour scheme, these are not final yet as they will need to be tested, but you can see below for the updated colours for the dark headphone and the light version. These are not yet final and will of course be tested.
On the final manufactured product, these fabrics and all the others will also have a stain repellent treatment to provide another extra layer of protection. And of course, don’t forget that that the ear-cup cushions are removable and washable!
Finally, early in January a few of the team went out to the Consumer Electronics Show where we met with many of our partners and most importantly a number of Kickstarter backers.
We estimate we met around 40 of you over the few days that we were there and we were thrilled to hear so many of your stories, why you backed Kokoon and your thoughts on our samples. We got some great feedback in the time we were there and are already working to incorporate this wherever we can across the headphone and our mobile app.
We’ve included a few photos from the event below:
Before the madness began
The stand in full swing
A busy few days!
Thank you all again for your patience and support with our development. As always, we love hearing from you either though email, our website www.kokoon.io or through our social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.