Project Update: December 2017
(9 min read)
This update contains 'forward looking statements' that may change for reasons out of the control of the Company, it's officers, and employees.
First pre-orders are going out in a few weeks.
Call it a delay or call it us trying to sustainably build something, we are working hard to get the first 30 pre-orders out this month (though it may take us until January to get all of these out). We have contacted the first pre-order holders to confirm their addresses. We also sent them a rendering (below) of what alpha rev0 will look like. Alpha rev0 is hand built and we will be sharing real images and a brief video of it in the coming weeks. Alpha rev0 is based on an existing frame style from one of our manufacturing partners and will feature some 3D printed content.
rendering of alpha rev0
Approximate Schedule and More Details on rev1, rev2, and rev3
Our previous diagram proved difficult to understand by some pre-order holders and observers so we have fashioned a new one showing our revised rollout.
Rev0: Late this month and early next month we are sending out the first 30 pre-orders for rev0. These folks have been contacted and are in-queue for production. A number of these folks have confirmed their address, those who don’t have them confirmed in time will not receive rev0.
Rev1: Scheduled to occur in the Feb-Mar time frame. Looking at the graph, we have indicated that the 30 people from rev0 are receiving rev1. Rev1 will feature more production content, but may still have some 3D printed content. Rev1 will feature the updated version of our electronics architecture, produced in Orange County, and will only feature one frame style; it will be unisex. Some of these units will feature your prescription.
Rev2: Consists of about 300 units and go out in the March-April timeframe. Rev2 will consist of the 100 people from rev1 and 200 other people who have made pre-orders. At this point, orders will start featuring the selected frame style, prescription, and frame color.
Rev3: This is essentially an early release of the beta that may not be water resistant. It shall consist of 100% production content and be used for an internal initial quality survey. 700 of these will be produced. No one receiving rev2 will receive rev3, but they will get the beta once it is ready, as a concession for their patience, support, and input (note - everyone is still getting beta bold). This run of 700 will spell the end of the alpha development phase. About 200 rev2 will be reserved for certain fortune 1000 and Silicon Valley firms that have expressed an interest in collaborating during beta.
Note, you can change your frame style at any time by shooting us an email (even between revs)
Alpha Pre-Order Period Closes in February.
This is not a solicitation of “please come in and order now”, but it is more of an FYI. We have garnered a statistically significant number of pre-orders and gotten far enough into pre-production activities for beta in order to begin putting a close on alpha activities. Once pre-orders close, the “alpha + beta bold” option will no longer be available, updates will be provided on a regular cadence for those who are on this mailing list.
More Applications for socialFLO Mods Will Be Reviewed.
Moving the company from R&D phase to the commercialization phase was a tough step. As a result we are allocating resources differently to align to commercialization activities. Consequently, quite a number of applications for mods were not reviewed. Starting this week that will change as we have made additions to staff to give this some more attention. Check back to socialFLO.com later this month to see what other people are thinking when it comes to mod development.
Patents & Licensing
In October, the Company was informed that its first patents have gone far enough through the examination process for us to receive a "Notice of Allowance" by the USPTO. We have a veritable fleet of intellectual property making it’s way through the US and PCT patent offices and are proud that we have passed this milestone that validates and increases the value of our technology.
Additionally, the Company has closed on its first licensing agreement. In late November, the Company successfully entered into a non-exclusive licensing agreement with a “camera company” that is working on an augmented reality application. This is a huge milestone for the Company, as one of my goals was to proliferate LAFORGE Optical technology into many other platforms. Expect for us to close on more licensing deals in 2018.
LAFORGE OnLine Returns with a new name.
Since pre-production activities for beta are underway, we are now looking at the future. The previous show’s abbreviation was “LOL” and we noticed that some of our emails were finding their way into people’s spam folder. The show will be renamed Don’t Ask When and it is an opportunity for you to ask any question you may have about the product or the company so long as you don’t ask when we will be executing on that development. This is my way to be open with the company’s developments and peer into my vision for LAFORGE Optical.
Clarifications on Alpha revs, Beta, product 2B Development.
For the nearly 700 of you who have made pre-orders and are anxiously awaiting your shipment, here are some details we are releasing to give you all a better understanding of how alpha, beta and product 2B relate to each other.
As stated in previous updates, there will be a lot of parts sharing in our product line. This is common in industries that are highly regulated, with high development costs, but also require diverse product portfolios to enter markets or stay competitive. What we have developed at LAFORGE Optical is the world’s first digital eyewear platform. All of our products share suppliers, peripherals, and ports. Alpha is being produced as way for us to test different suppliers’ responsiveness, quality, and business candor as well as a way for us to confirm fit, finish, and visual acuity. I say “business candor”, because just because a company makes something doesn’t mean they are easy to work with or is motivated to sell it you.
Beta is about our ability to scale, sell, and proliferate our technology. We can make eyewear - 'great' -but does it mean people can find it, does it mean people understand it, and does it mean retailers are willing to make room for it?
Some beta activities, as it pertains to scaling up and distribution, have already begun, but it’s important for people to understand that producing massive numbers of product when entering a sector or emerging field represents added risk. We have implemented a focused plan to mitigate the risks that this poses.
When it comes to product 2B it is worth mentioning that this product uses all the same components and process except for two components. As such, it means that product 2B, which is only about 6 months in development, already is 100% sourced and product 2B betas (for internal use) are about 60 days out. We are anticipating that product 2B will go into production this summer with sales commencing later in the year.
The rollout of product 2B and the Shima beta will be different from that of the Shima alpha. There will be no pre-orders and there will be no major changes after its announcement. It will just be available to purchase online and at a nearby eye care professional. However, we will continue to involve existing pre-order holders in development of Beta and Product 2B, under NDA.
Product Packaging has Been Designed and is Being Sourced.
We have finished designing the product packaging, and specifying the box and cushioning it will be shipped in. We have designed an elegant solution (above) to safely ship our line of future digital eyewear. We have created a really cool unboxing experience that we are going to leave as a surprise. Those receiving rev1 are guaranteed to receive this packaging as shown, some of those receiving rev0 may receive this packaging.
Other Major Developments
Supplier Change (PCB): In order for the series of alpha rollouts to occur without interruption by Chinese New Year and other Eastern Holidays, the company will now be fabricating and assembling it’s printed circuit boards in Orange County, California. The company has already produced dozens of boards in Orange County as a part of initial development. No part of this supplier change has resulted in delays.
Supplier Change (Eyewear Frames): We have been working very hard to improve the aesthetics and better integrate our optics engine and electronics into something that is recognizable as eyewear (rather than “that thing on your face”). Switching suppliers for what is the most detailed intensive component in the product, this late, represents a risk as it could have added some serious delays (and I do listen to the pre-order holders on #TeamJustShipIt). I am glad to say that we have found a design & manufacturing partner who understands that digital eyewear is a personal statement of fashion and technology and not a ‘science fair project’. We will be releasing sketches of the revised Half & Half, Infinite Loop, Mister DJ, Heartbreaker, and a new 5th unisex style, in the coming weeks. Shortly thereafter, we will release new images of the samples and eventually allow some pre-order holders to try them on and give their impressions of the frame styles on social media.
A New Try-on Experience: We are in the planning stages of a new VR application to allow you to see what it's like to experience Shima before you receive it. If you have an HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Gear VR, or Google Cardboard/DayDream you will soon be able to experience our UI, a variety of modes and scenarios. This experience will be interactive, so you will be able to use controls on most of those devices to get a better understanding of how you may be able to interact with our eyewear. We are going to be using feedback from this to get a better understanding of how to demo our bespoke eyewear in a way that anyone could appreciate the user experience before purchasing these at one of our in-store kiosks at their local eyewear retailer.
FCC Certification: A beta model will be sent to the FCC in late Q1 or early Q2 of 2018 for certification at the FCC, once we pass we will be given clearance to distribute the product to the general buying public in the US, we will also be pursing CE and NOM certification around the same time. An ETL certification will be pursued at a later point.
Pre-Order Lock-In: In the coming weeks, we will be informing pre-order holders of a link and survey they can use to fill out in order to receive their free pair of prescription eyewear or sunglasses. It was my intention to get this done last month, but between hiring & training new team members, finishing negotiations to license our IP, and doing a fundraising tour, something had to give. The first of these shipments should go out later this month or during the first week of January. Please note that locking in your pre-order helps the company in it's planning as there is a lot of coordination that needs to take place for us to get the nearly 100 parts, from dozens of global suppliers, in the right place at the right time to make your eyewear.
This concludes the December 2017 update.
We would not have made it this far without your support and feedback.
CEO & Head of Design