Cocoon November Update

Last week we let our supporters know that we are moving our delivery date to April 2016. In this update we’re pleased to announce progress in hardware, software and funding.

$3M funding round.

We’re excited to announce that we’ve closed a $3M seed investment from Aviva Ventures, Breed Reply Investments and our early stage investors, adding to the $1.3M investment which came just after Cocoon’s successful Indiegogo campaign. This significant investment will help us deliver our innovative Subsound™ technology and the first stage of our launch plan, complementing the support our early supporters have shown throughout the process of bringing Cocoon to life.

Cocoon is growing!

We’re further expanding Cocoon, and as such we decided to split our development team in two. This allows the software team to grow quickly and focus on areas of the product development which interest them without losing momentum. We welcomed the first of our new team this week, with Ramazan joining the Cocoon mobile team on iOS and we have Mohammed and Robert starting next week!

Over the past year, Cocoon’s team has more than tripled, and we’re still growing, with positions available for smart, dedicated people who want to build and bring something incredible to market.

Cocoon home security team

Ensuring high quality.

As we explained in our October update, during production testing we learned of quality issues associated with the methods that our original manufacturing partner used to create components such as Cocoon’s metal ring. This was unacceptable, and so we had to find a partner who could meet the production quality we expect for Cocoon. Having to go back a few steps in the process has inevitably impacted our delivery schedule.

Solving a problem with location detection.

Our user trial showed that some customer’s smartphones failed to, or have a delay in detecting the user’s arrival home. This can cause Cocoon to generate false alerts. The reliability of your smartphone location data depends on the quality of your GPS and internet connectivity. Sometimes smartphones lose signal, run out of data allowance, or just don’t want to play nicely. We’re confident that we can overcome this challenge, but it will take time.

Ramping up for tooling.

We’ve ordered the moulds for Cocoon’s plastic and metal parts from our new manufacturing partner. There is now 7-8 weeks before the moulds are delivered and we can see the first samples. We’ve also finalised the method of applying fabric to Cocoon, and confirmed the method of making Cocoon’s sonic chamber airtight (which is important for its acoustic properties).

We’ll be posting regularly but always, if you have any questions or comments please get in touch on Facebook or Twitter, and if you’d like to join our team please check out our careers page.

Thank you,

Team Cocoon.

Cocoon October Update

We’ve identified a number of technical challenges during the closed user trial that we are running. User trials are designed to weed out the bugs and issues, so we can fix them ahead of shipping a final product. In the last development sprint our team made good progress but some more complex issues will take time to resolve.

So, now let’s get into the detail with the latest Cocoon update.

Geo-location issues.

The recent trial data showed that some customer’s Cocoon devices fail to, or have a delay in detecting users arriving back home. This causes Cocoon to generate false alarms, something that other home security products suffer from.

Cocoon uses the location data from your smartphone to know when the user is or is not at home. The reliability of location data depends on the quality of your GPS and internet connectivity. Of course in some circumstances these signals are not perfect and so neither is a phone’s knowledge of where it is.

We’ve developed proof of concepts that should work reliably to detect arrival home when location data is inaccurate, or the phone has lost its data connection. John’s team are exploring Wi-Fi and Bluetooth arrival detection options as well as mechanisms for improving the reliability of geo-location detection.

Excess heat when streaming continuously.

Some Cocoons forming part of the closed user trial generated excess heat when streaming video for long periods of time. The chart below shows the temperature of a Cocoon over a 14 day period. The temperature rises during the day when the customer has their central heating on.

Cocoon home security thermal heat

There is an additional 10 degrees celsius increase on the days the Cocoon was constantly streaming video. This heat has the risk of damaging the Cocoon hardware over time. We have identified a possible cause as the main CPU having to copy the video frames into memory rather than this function being performed by the hardware image signal and video encoding chips.

Manufacturing partner change.

We’ve been forced to reexamine our production plans we learned that the methods planned by the original manufacturing partner for producing Cocoon’s metal ring had quality risks. Our new manufacturing partner is highly experienced, having produced hundred of thousands of products with similar properties to Cocoon, such as high-end speakers and sound systems. This has put our project plan a little behind schedule, but our focus is on delivering a quality product. We are evaluating the impact of this on our delivery date and will send you an update shortly.

Cocoon home security electronic parts

Cocoon is growing.

To meet the demands of the software and hardware challenges we’re expanding the Cocoon development team. We’re now recruiting for team members to expand our capacity as we push Cocoon to launch readiness.

Cocoon home security team

Adding keyholders.

The software team have successfully completed the features development for adding more household members to Cocoon. What this means is that Cocoon can be added to all smartphones in the home, allowing your family to come and go without triggering an alert.

Material choice.

When selecting the right fabric to act as the cover for the Cocoon device it’s all about the details. This has been a challenging and lengthy process. Airflow, colour resilience in sunlight and consistency of weave are just some of the things to consider. Fitting the fabric reliability and consistently to Cocoon in production is another challenge. We are prototyping jigs designed to fit the fabric to Cocoon in high volume factory production.

Cocoon home security materials

Production testing.

Nick’s hardware team are mid-project on the test fixtures which will help approve Cocoon devices as they come off the production line.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you,

Team Cocoon.

Cocoon September Update

We’ve been quiet for the last few weeks and during this time our team have been focusing on some key development challenges as part of our ongoing user trial. So, now we’re able to come up for air it’s time for the latest Cocoon update.

Cocoons in the field.

During September, we’ve had Cocoon devices in real customer homes, with willing supporters putting Cocoon through it’s paces. The early signs are that the set-up process and the Wi-Fi are working well, but we quickly noticed a difference in performance between numerous Cocoons in the field.

The cause of the varying performance has been identified as the electronic components used for Subsound™ detection. Some are fine, others are less sensitive. Issues like this only get found when many units are built for the first time. We already have a resolution for this, but it will require a small change to the audio processing electronics.

Cocoon home security devices tested in homes.

Development push.

We’ve spent time enhancing Cocoon’s ability to log and monitor performance, working out whether they are related to hardware differences, software setup or environmental issues. This has the added benefit of helping our team to work out how customers prefer to interact with the mobile app so we can create a more enjoyable experience.

We’re constantly looking at ways to improve the effectiveness of Subsound and make it easier to use Cocoon. To do this we have spent time enhancing the reliability of the data feed from the user trial cocoons, which feeds into performance and reliability analysis and Subsound development

John’s team of incredible developers have spent time enhancing the live video streaming to work more reliably across a greater variety of network environments. This means that the Cocoon live video stream scales up and down depending on your network availability.

Cocoon home security team developing

You’re helping to build a great product.

We think it’s important that our decisions are informed by the people who use our products. To give you a better product experience we’d like to understand how you’d see yourself interacting with Cocoon. Please take two minutes to complete this survey.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you,
Team Cocoon.

Cocoon August Update

Those long summer days are starting to shorten and the kids are heading back to school, it must be time for the Cocoon August update!

Music to our ears

Kimberley and John have been working hard with their teams to perfect Cocoon’s ‘out-of-the-box’ (set-up) user experience. We want to make using Cocoon as simple as technology will allow, and that means no additional cables or complicated set-up process. We can’t share too much detail just yet but we’re confident that we’ve cracked the biggest problem with an existing smart home security set-up. This means that setting up your Cocoon could take seconds rather than minutes and require nothing other than your smartphone.

Making stuff simple

During the warm summer months we’ve spent time making the Cocoon brand simpler and more recognisable. This means the way we talk to you is less robotic, our logo is clearer and the colours we use on the website and in our smartphone app will help make using Cocoon a more enjoyable experience.

Over the coming months we’ll be launching our updated website with the new brand and we it’s important for us to know what you think.

Cocoon home security brand logo

Pre-production Cocoons

Ahead of a full production run we’re building a number of ‘pre-production’ Cocoons that will take part in ‘real world’ testing. Over the coming months these devices will be placed in the homes of volunteers, as well as being submitted to various destruction and resilience tests before being finalised. If everything goes well, next month we’ll be placing the order with our factory for tooling; since ‘tooling’ is expensive and cannot be easily changed we need to get it right before committing to it.

Cocoon Home Securty

Production circuit boards

With heat and WiFi issues a thing of the past, we’re now producing circuit boards at scale. Although we’ve produced the circuit boards before, moving from small-scale manufacture to a large-scale production facility raised some issues. Working through these minor changes has pushed the delivery of the circuit boards back slightly, but the good news is that future factory runs should be smooth.

Delivery date

We feel it’s important to be honest and open with our supporters, continuing to do so at every stage of our development. Feeding all of this month’s advances and delays into our project plan results in estimated shipping to Indiegogo backers in December, 2015.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

Cocoon July Update

We’ve been working hard to navigate our way through the hardware issues before people head off for the summer holidays with their families. It’s time for the Cocoon July Update.

Out of the woods on WiFi

Great news; we now have Cocoon’s WiFi performing to our specification. Cocoon WiFi is now achieving the expected performance and exceeding the performance of other devices in our test environment.

Over the last two months we have been working with our WiFi module chip vendor to root out and resolve the problem. The next step will be to collect performance data from a variety of different environments in the closed user trial to ensure that Cocoon’s WiFi performance is reliable when used at scale.

The image below shows signal strength in dB. The lower negative figure the better.

Cocoon WiFi image

Hot design

As we say goodbye to our brief heatwave so too does Cocoon. Cocoon’s internal electronics generate excess heat as it goes about protecting your home. During June and July we’ve prototyped a number of different physical internal designs that allow heat from Cocoon’s components to escape. The preferred design uses subtle vents underneath Cocoon and a narrow space around the aluminium ring at the top, which allows convection of air over a heat sink and keeps the components at reliable working temperatures.

The graph below shows that the key temperature (yellow) has reduced by 15°C as a result of the enhancements.

Cocoon July Temperature

Rounded design

It may seem like a small change but we’re absolutely obsessed with design detail. The Cocoon base has evolved as we’ve tested and learned over the past year. Our base allows you to position Cocoon at an angle that suits your home, whilst also offering excellent support for the device itself. The current design not only provides more effective support but also prevents the device from rubbing against the base.

Cocoon Rounded Base

Software

We’ve made significant progress on the “what came before the alert” video streaming system. With live video streaming already working, we hope to have integration of the motion sensor into Cocoon’s monitoring and alerting system completed before the end of the month.

User testing

We had 4 more rounds of usability testing in July, where we invited people to Cocoon HQ to carry out tasks using our prototypes and designs. We focused on a range of areas including the Cocoon activity timeline and the information architecture of the app. This insight is now informing changes and amends to our designs.

Shipping date

We’ve had some technical challenges to overcome in the past few months and we’re expecting more as we break new ground. Cocoon is an innovation and a lot of what we develop hasn’t been done before, particularly on the software side of our business. We’re currently still aiming for shipping in December of this year for our Indiegogo backers.

We feel it’s important to be honest and open with our supporters, continuing to do so at every stage of our development.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

Cocoon June Update

It feels like the first weeks of British Summer have arrived and with it comes melted ice creams, mild sunburn and the June Cocoon update.

Software Developments

We’ve reached the exciting milestone of running full Cocoon application code on the real Cocoon hardware prototype for the first time, as opposed to our development systems.

Improvements have been made to the kernel driver for our camera to enhance inter-operability with our video streaming software. This means that we’re now able to get a real “Cocoon’s eye view” of the world.

We’re also now testing the first internal release of our iOS app, at feature parity with the android app. We’re looking forward to sharing some details of the Cocoon mobile apps closer to our December shipping date.

Software Team Hidden Shot

It’s getting hot in here

When you place sensors, processors and other electronic chips into a compact device you generate lots of heat. The more you ask of the device, the more heat is generated. With the main processor running at 100% and Cocoon’s camera also running, the temperature inside the chassis quickly rises.

We’re looking at ways to not only keep Cocoon cool but maintain as high a performance as possible. Our software team are looking at how we can reduce the heat output and our mechanical design team is looking at how we can dissipate the heat better.

Not out of the Woods on WiFi

The WiFi antenna circuit has been tuned to compensate for the PCB and other components but performance in practice is not reaching the specifications in the reference design and prototype it was built from. We’re investigating why and hope to have a solution on the table in the coming weeks.

UK Manufacturing

We’re pleased to say that after an extensive selection process we’ve chosen our electronics manufacturing partner and are now working together on producing our Cocoon at scale ahead of the December 2015 shipping date.

In order to keep our build of Cocoon as efficient as possible, we’re looking to optimise the assembly time. This has included making pieces snap (rather than screw) together, and using circuit board stand-offs that can be placed by machine rather than by hand. We’re also designing jigs to make it faster to apply fabric accurately to Cocoon.

Pre-Compliance testing

Nick and Paul spent a full day bombarding Cocoon with radio waves at a professional testing centre in the North of England in order to meet technical and safety standards. We’re pleased to say that Cocoon passed the first stage of pre-compliance testing with flying colours ahead of our Wifi testing that begins next week.

Cocoon EM Testing Laser

As always, if you have any questions or comments please get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

Team Cocoon.