SPUD Update: Shroud Progress and Schedule

October 07, 2017

Thank you for supporting SPUD, the Spontaneous Pop-Up Display! In this update, we (1) give details on shroud issues and progress, (2) show behind-the-scenes pics at the shroud factory, and (3) update the SPUD pilot and delivery schedule.

 

Dear SPUD Backers,

George, Leonard, and Alex are still in China everyday working on the test units. Time for another quick progress update as we continue to get closer to shipping!

In our last update, we mentioned we were not satisfied with the quality of the shroud, and we would only ship a product that meets our quality standards. Since then, we have worked with our supply chain on improving the sewing template for the shroud, and we have tested a variety of new fabrics. Specifically, we have been iterating on the shroud template with the following constraints:

  1. The shroud should not affect the image/display quality.
  2. The shroud should look sleek/aesthetically pleasing each time SPUD is popped-up.
  3. The shroud should be mass manufacturable (i.e. the SPUD each of you receives achieves constraints 1 and 2).

The shroud is the fabric on the back of SPUD that improves image contrast by blocking ambient light.

The 3rd requirement has been the most difficult, because like so many of the custom components in SPUD, no one has mass manufactured anything like the shroud. The good news is that we believe we have found a template that is mass manufacturable, and we are getting close to finalizing the fabric material. We are moving forward with sourcing all the components for the test batch of units.

What is so difficult about the shroud?

At a high level, here are some of the problems we have been facing:

  • Sewing Template: Aside from being complex, the sewing template needs to be very precise with tight limits, since variations in “fit” can have a range of impacts. At one extreme, a shroud that is too loose will look baggy and wrinkly, and in the worst case could block some of the projected image. At the other extreme, a shroud that is too tight would take the tension away from the screen, potentially having unacceptable image impact like screen sagging and image distortion. The template design and sewing quality impact the balance of the entire device; the shroud needs to be precisely sewn every time.
  • Fabric: There are a lot of parameters to consider when finalizing the fabric, including the weight versus thickness tradeoff, the dye process, and the overall look/feel. A lightweight fabric reduces the load on the arms and helps keep the total product weight down, but a thicker/heavier fabric is less prone to wrinkles and is better for blocking ambient light. Controlling the fabric dyeing methods are critical, as some fabric colors can “run” and stain the screen (which we found out the hard way on early iterations). And of course, the fabric needs to be high quality and look great, since it covers the majority of SPUD!

We have certainly learned a lot about just how complicated shroud production can get, and we have made great progress over the last 3 weeks. Take a look at some of the behind-the-scenes pics working with shroud suppliers and template masters:

Template master showing George changes he made to the shroud.

George assessing new fabric options.

George evaluating one of the hundreds of shroud templates.

More work with another template master.

Assembly line at our shroud factory.

Last night just after midnight at the shroud factory.

Schedule Impact

Iterating on the shroud has cost us some time, on top of the fact that this week is the Chinese National Week and Mid-Autumn Festival, meaning most of our suppliers are out on holiday for 7 to 8 days. It would be disingenuous to give an exact target date at this time, as it will be dependent on how fast we can move when our supply chain returns from this national holiday. However, the basic plan remains the same:

  1. Ship out the test units to our 30 pilot testers.
  2. Receive feedback and update any critical areas (estimated time 7-10 days, but could be longer depending if any critical bugs discovered).
  3. Begin mass manufacturing and ship out final units (estimated time 2-4 weeks).

Our best estimate is that we will still ship out the test units by the end of this month. We expect to have a better release estimate in the next 2 weeks.

We will continue to keep all of you updated as we get closer to sending you your SPUD.

 

Grateful for your support!
Justin, George, Leonard, and Alex