In one of our most recent updates, we recapped on what we learned about our KANOA Alpha units. You can check it out HERE.
In the essence of time, let me catch you up to speed. Throughout Alpha testing, we simultaneously solved most of the key issues we discovered that dealt with comfort, fit, connectivity, and the charging case. However, we noticed that our Alpha units had a decrease in performance under heavy use. When units were freshly built, they performed perfectly, but after rigorous stress testing, we noticed that sound quality, connectivity, and overall performance decreased over time. Our goal for KANOA, is to ensure that your earphones perform phenomenally the day you receive it, all the way up until the day YOU decide to retire them.
Over the last few weeks, our engineering team has worked extensively on pinpointing the primary cause as to why our Alpha units decreased in performance over time. Here’s what they’ve found.
The above image depicts the button assembly of KANOA at rest. Blue indicates no force currently applied.
We then proceeded to test KANOA’s button under different degrees of force. When KANOA is nestled within your ear, the average amount of force (highlighted in green) to initiate a command is low. However, we discovered that if a user takes KANOA out of their ears and presses the button within their hand, the force applied is much greater.
In the photo above, Lorenzo has KANOA in-ear, and is tapping the button with his index finger to pause, play, skip, answer/deny phone calls, and activate Siri. Under this typical use case, KANOA has no problem with the level of force generated by your index finger, but when some of our testers wanted to pair to another device, they preferred to interact with KANOA outside of their ears and with their thumbs.
In rare situations, such as resetting your Bluetooth connection, a user would have to take KANOA out and press both buttons simultaneously.
Your thumbs can provide much more force than your index finger. During testing, we discovered that if a user doesn’t feel the tactile feedback from the button, this would resort to a larger application of force, ultimately impacting the performance of KANOA.
The image above depicts the amount of force a user generates when pressing the button with their thumbs. The force from the thumb travels past the button to the outer edge of the circuit board (highlighted in red) lowering its overall performance. We’ve already implemented and tested a solution to combat the tactility of the button, but now we must find and implement a solution for the excessive force applied to the circuit board.
Here’s a sketch of our solution. The area of excessive force is shaded in red, and the button is shaded in black. Underneath the button, we’re going to implement an Actuator Spring, indicated by the black S line going from the middle of the pentagon towards the red zone. This Actuator Spring will help prevent the button from passing a certain point, alleviating the force in the red zone, and allow the button to bounce back. As you’re reading this, our team of engineers are currently working on implementing this into KANOA.
KANOA is made up of 131 individual components, and it’s truly amazing to see how these tiny parts come together to create a product that will soon be in your hands. 70% of all electronic components are finalized, purchased, and ready for manufacturing. Minor tweaks and testing is still required, but everything is lining up nicely, and we can’t wait for all of you to experience KANOA.
Thank you for being part of the Team.