Posted: March 6th, 2013 |
Author: Thomas |
Filed under: Technology
Tags: desktop injection molder makerbot parent testing peeko product aesthetics
Initially, Rest Devices focused solely on medical devices. We had some great technology, solid engineering know how, and some rough prototypes, but to iterate on our design, we needed data, and medical devices need…medical data. From the start, Dr. Matt Bianchi provided excellent guidance to help us navigate the IRB and BME processes, and we knew our prototypes had to look and feel complete – like an actual medical device.
Then, last summer, we switched over to the consumer space with the Peeko monitor. We wholly expected that our prior requirements for polished prototypes would relax, as we were moving from the FDA to parents as our “regulatory bodies”. However, we quickly found that parents are far more demanding. For a parent to be comfortable testing a new device it needs to be approachable, friendly and most importantly, not look like a device! In short, it needs to be polished. (It’s worth noting that, early on, Dulcie demanded that I never say the word device while talking about Peeko)
This principle of polished prototypes seemingly flew in the face of our entire rapid prototyping philosophy. When we were first developing the Peeko, we probably went through 5-10 different versions of the device every week, but ultimately, we had to be comfortable taking each version to a parent to get their input. If the design ever felt unpolished, a parent would never get past the aesthetic problems let alone talk about the actual usability or the feature set. As a result, we started a culture of refined prototyping right from the very beginning.
And, even before we had a thought about baby products and/or refined aesthetics, we set ourselves up for prototyping. One of our first significant expenditures was actually one of the original MakerBot Thing-O-Matics, which we bought before we even had enough tools to build it. This allowed us to print complete, water tight(ish) cases that would easily pass any BME exam for a quick medical test in the sleep lab. From our success with our MakerBot, we started to collect as many tools as possible to allow us to iterate design in lab. Instead of sending out electronics to be fabricated for us, we built a complete surface mount soldering screening/soldering area (we still pick and place by hand). Instead of waiting 2+ weeks for boards to be etched, we designed our own PCB printing and etching tank. As we started to work closely with parents who required extremely high quality, we bought our own hand operated injection molding machine.
Surprisingly, all the equipment didn’t require much capital expenditures, and now we can completely change design (new electronics, case, sensors) for hundreds rather than tens of thousands of dollars. But more importantly, we can also experiment with new technology amazingly quickly. A few days ago, we decided to hold an internal 24 hour hackathon and challenge ourselves to see if we could integrate heart rate and blood oxygen sensors into Peeko. Because of our investment in rapid prototyping equipment, we were able to test and iterate through 4 designs before finalizing a device that we will likely test in a hospital setting, all within 24 hours. Needless to say, it was mind-blowing to see our capacity to rapidly iterate that wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago.
Sadly, our MakerBot finally wore itself out a few weeks back. After 18 months of printing a few thousand pieces for more than 50 hours every week, it was well past its expected lifespan. The breakdown nearly crushed me, but the amazing team at MakerBot graciously donated one of their new Replicator 2s (R2) to our lab (THANK YOU, MAKERBOT!). We have been playing with the new Makerbot for two weeks now, and the quality and speed is astonishing. With these vast improvements in technology and our iteration philosophy, I predict massive shifts in our manufacturing timelines, particularly the transition from testing to manufacturing. Ultimately, we’re starting to be able to print such high quality devices that injection molding is more or less unnecessary until we produce at scale. This might not seem like a super big deal, but now we can build and iterate entirely new products in less than a week (as opposed to several months with traditional manufacturing processes).
As a startup who prides ourselves on our speed, we could not be more excited about these shifts in timelines. We can’t wait to share our process and technology with other like-minded tinkerers, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Posted: January 23rd, 2013 |
Author: Dulcie |
Filed under: Company Development
Tags: branding customer experience makerbot thing-o-matic
Our team has thought a lot about the One Trick Pony effect, and how to avoid it with a specific product like the Peeko (as opposed to the sensor tech itself, which is more broadly applicable). Our dream is to build a family of products, wherein we have one distinct product that targets every stage of a baby and child’s life. To do this, though, we need to build a brand that has serious street cred and which is trustworthy, relevant, and beloved by parents. How do we do that? First, we know we need to create exceptional and insanely reliable products. Second (and this is obviously connected to the first), we need to create a phenomenal user and brand experience across every aspect of what we do.
There’s one brand that has etched this fact indelibly into my brain: Makerbot. You may already know this, but we are obsessed with Makerbot at our office. Our Thing-o-Matic is constantly referenced as the best engineering purchase we’ve ever made, and our TOM runs for at least 40 hours a week. We use it for all of our prototyping, for making toys for families we’re product testing with, and for “enhancing” our office (see picture of our new mobile-enabled bike rack below). Soon after I joined the team, I started calling our TOM MakerBaby because of how Thomas takes care of it: our scrappy little bot is fully retuned at least once a month, and it’s been upgraded in pretty much every imaginable way. This isn’t to say that we’re not seriously in love with the new Replicator 2; in fact, the guys ask every day when they can get a R2. But, at the end of the day, the TOM is absolutely beloved at 105 South street, and we literally couldn’t work without her.
However, on top of this product excellence, we’ve been lucky to work pretty closely with the team. Andrew put together an all-too-amazing blog post featuring Thomas (see here, and be sure to watch until at least 0:26, as we find it hilarious), the Peeko got an image shoutout in their NYMag feature, and we’ve been super lucky to talk with the team about everything from upgrades to fixes to startup questions to babies. Everyone we’ve talked to is insanely responsive and helpful, and every interaction just amplifies our love for the team, product, and company as a whole.
On another level, Carson and I visited the Makerbot store when we were in NY in December, and it was exactly the same thing (but visually improved, since we were surrounded with superneat Makerbotted stuff; see below). I believe Carson’s quote was literally “this is awesome! every ‘sales’ person here is actually a full Makerbot user!” Though we’d expect nothing less, we were super impressed with the level of technical knowledge and alacrity the staff demonstrated, and our little Makerbotted hearts nearly exploded.
Then, yesterday, our TOM broke. Thomas pretty much started hyperventilating (I kid you not), but he had the presence of mind to email Andrew and see if he could find him a special, likely no-longer-manufactured part. The problem was solved in minutes, and we think we’ll have Makerbaby healed and running again by the end of the week, which is huge for us. We can’t thank the Makerbot team enough for their incredible support, and I think I’m still sort of shocked / in awe at the speed at which the team came to our rescue.
It’s experiences like these that make lifelong brand devotees, and it gave me serious pause. In fact, I literally wasn’t able to sleep last tonight because I was trying to figure out how we were going to achieve the same level of excellence as we move forward. I mean, branding certainly can’t be created and built with one sleepness night of hamster-esque thinking; rather, it’s a marathon of genuine responsiveness, quality, and almost obsessive support for your customers and users. Aesthetics and messaging definitely play a role as well, and we have to craft everything we do so that it resonates with parents (and to that end, we’ll be testing all our branding like crazy with users). Finally, it’s about creating the right team and ensuring that every person buys into your brand and is deeply attuned to the customer’s experience, as it’s likely that every person on a start-up team will be user-facing at some point.
These are big things to think about, and, yes, they’ll probably keep me up for many more sleepless nights. But, the good news is that I think I actually think we’ll be okay (and far better than okay at that). We’re super team-focused, we work exceptionally hard to stay close to users and parents, and we try to be pretty OCD about responsiveness and support. This will become astronomically harder as we move towards Peeko’s launch, as we build sales, and as we roll out additional products. But, we believe it’s totally possible, especially if we have our Makerbot to pull us through
Posted: October 3rd, 2012 |
Author: Pablo |
Filed under: Peeko Infant Monitor, Technology
Tags: baby monitor Dulcie + Chao argument i got tag happy! makerbot onesie parent feedback peeko Peeko app product development rapid prototyping smartphone app wearable sensor
As you may know, we’re into rapid prototyping at Rest Devices (check out this stellar – and inadvertently hilarious – post by the folks at Makerbot). We use our Thing-O-Matic 3D printer for just about everything, and we just got a desktop injection-molding machine that takes our plastics development to the next level. Our compulsive habit of “iterating › testing › iterating” has served us exceptionally well as we’ve worked on Peeko. Not everything works (not so surprising), but some things actually end up working really well (super surprising). And, perhaps best of all, we’ve been able to do this on a ridiculously fast timeline. Yes, we work hard, as seen in Thomas’ histogram of his caffeine consumption for the first three weeks of product development here, but our ability to cycle through ideas and gather feedback has been critical to our process thus far.
There are a hundred different things that we’ve worked on, and here are a couple of highlights:
- Our sensor design has changed quite a bit. Not only did we have to make the sensors more appealing for baby apparel – the goal is to get moms to squee with delight when they see the Peeko bodysuit—we also had to increase the durability significantly. The SleepShirt sensors were designed for about 7 nights’ worth of testing, but Peeko is meant to be used day-to-day. Add the never-ending struggle to dress a squirmy baby, and our engineering team has had an interesting challenge. The results, while not visible to the naked eye, have thus far been a great new sensor design we are currently testing. Stay posted to see how these continue to evolve!
Our bodysuit progress thus far.
- We are by no means experts in smartphone app design, but we knew parents could tell us what we’re doing right and wrong and go from there. We also can’t discount the emphasis we have placed on displaying data to parents—our goal is to provide parents with peace of mind, not more anxiety. To do so, we’ve been working through the best and simplest ways to show parents that their baby is, in fact, a-ok (and the most convenient way of letting them know that something is awry). We’re admittedly not there yet, but we are focusing a significant part of our effort into getting this component right, and we look forward to hearing from more parents as we test over the next several weeks.
Phone app snapshots
Dulcie and Chao in a heated debate over our app user flow!
We are incredibly thankful to all the parents we’ve worked with and who have answered question after question; we know that parenting is exhausting, and your help has pushed this product to where it is now. We can’t wait to get a great product into the hands of every caring parent, but, in the meantime, we’ll keep iterating, testing, and proto-typing!
And, if you’d like to provide feedback, we’d love to hear from you! Just contact me at email@example.com or Dulcie Madden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pablo & Dulcie