SPUD Update: Optics Progress

March 16, 2018

Hello SPUD Backers!

We have a few updates for you this week, including the progress we’ve made on the SPUD optics over the last few weeks, and some of the updates we’ve implemented based on pilot users’ feedback. But first, a short demo video for you basketball fans to get us started:

The Optics 

With Chinese new year and the associated factory shutdowns in China behind us, we are now back in China, working to get you your SPUD, the world’s first collapsible display! In our last update, we were working on an issue with the short-range lens designed to shorten the projection distance. We have made significant progress on this issue, aided greatly by our presence at Luminate, the first optics focused startup accelerator, in Rochester, NY.
Alex testing at Optimax.
Alex testing at Optimax.
George testing weight compensation at Luminate.
George testing weight compensation at Luminate.

We have determined that the weight of the short-range projection lens was causing misalignment between the lens and the projector. While this was a relatively minor displacement (~60 microns, or about the average thickness of a hair), it had a large impact on image quality. Compensating for the displacement has improved the image significantly, removing some of the blur we described in the last update. For the first 2000 SPUDs (which all of you are a part of) we have determined a way to correct for this weight displacement, and we may update the chassis mold for future batches.

The lenses made using the more precise technology used for prototyping, called diamond turning, still have approximately 10% less blur than the best injection molded lenses we use for mass production, even with the displacement fix described above. The Luminate team linked us with a high precision measurements company, Optimax, so we could measure the surface differences between the diamond turned lenses and injection molded lenses. Our lens supplier is now using that data as well as data from their own measurement equipment to update the molds.
The weight of the front lens bends the light path. Inset: Example measurement comparing an injection molded surface to diamond turned surface.
The weight of the front lens bends the light path. Inset: Example measurement comparing an injection molded surface to diamond turned surface.

The bottom line: The weight displacement fix, combined with the improved lenses, fixes the focus/blur issue and gives us the image quality we need to ship! Our current supplier estimated that the updated mold should be complete in two weeks. Delivery time for your SPUD will be dependent on how well the new mold performs, and then the time it takes to make the first 2000 short-range lens assemblies. We will provide another update after the mold is fixed and we receive the first samples from the updated mold.

Other Improvements

We received a lot of great feedback from our pilot testers, and we have made a couple of notable improvements based on that feedback:

  • Stronger arms: A couple of our pilot testers (including Alex) decided to do some destructive testing for us by dropping their popped-up pilot SPUDs off of relatively tall tables. This exposed a potential weak point in our arm design, and we were able to reproduce the issue in the lab. We have worked with our arm supplier to update that joint with a new design and different material, and we’re happy to say that the arms are now stronger than ever. Pilot testing success!
  • New cover strap: The pilot testers were all in agreement that collapsing SPUD down and closing the cover takes some practice at first, mostly because it can be difficult to close the cover while still holding the spring-loaded arms in place. We are working on adding a strap to the cover to assist with this process, and we really like the feel of our new prototype. We are working with our Industrial Designer Mark Kimbrough to further improve the aesthetics but here is an early look. Adding the strap will not affect timeline as the cover supplier already made the first 2000 covers and adding the strap is relatively trivial: 

    With a fix in work for our final major issue, pilot feedback implemented, and all key components scheduled and paid for, we are in a great position to begin manufacturing production and get to the SPUD release!  

    Thank you all for your continued support! 
    -Justin, Leonard, George, and Alex


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