2021-07-25

Preparing for Kickstarter

As we are getting close to launching our Kickstarter campaign, we thought we would answer two of the most asked questions 🙂

Remote Two fits perfectly in your hand


With Remote Two, we have been aiming for the highest quality. We did not want to compromise on materials or features. We have spent a lot of time finding the right partners, ordering samples to see who can make the parts with our desired finish and specifications. We were determined to design a remote that stands out. Something that looks good, but packed with features as well. We locked in to get a high resolution OLED display, to achieve deep blacks and nice colors. We added all the features we could think of to have a solid base of hardware that we can build great software on.

We had this crazy idea, to manufacture our first larger scale product in Europe. Oh boy, it was indeed crazy, but not impossible! We're really close to finalizing all the details, but it looks like we can make it happen! Even though some parts will travel from various parts of the world, the final assembly and manufacturing - hopefully - will take place in Europe. This makes it easier for us to do quality control and be there anytime we want at the production facility.

How much will it cost?

I know everybody is eager to know the price of Remote Two. Our target was to have it under €400. We have spent a significant amount of time calculating how we can make this sustainable. We don't just want to sell some remotes and call it a day. We are plannig for long term. We would like to provide frequent software updates, introduce new features and add new integrations. Coming up with a price was not an easy task, as we had to consider all the above, but we came closer and the price will be between €360 and €400 (incl. VAT in EU) for Kickstarter. Considering that it's similar to what other remotes went for - while they were manufactured - we think it's a great price for all the features and value that comes with Remote Two. We will also be offering options to buy multiples for discounts and even a special customisation option.

When can I get one?

Remote Two is not a DIY kit anymore. We decided to build a proper, fully assembled product. But with this, comes the obligation to meet all requirements for selling a product. We need to get the necessary certifications, reporting, design and setup the manufacturing process, test production, fix any issues we encounter and then start scaling up and produce more and more remotes. These all take time, especially in today's world where we are facing a global chip shortage. Probably you have noticed that you cannot buy graphics cards, PS5 and other electronics products or you have to wait a long time to get them. Simply put, there are not enough chips and components to buy. This leads to longer wait times. We have planned around this and calculated it into our target shipping date. We will order and buy all the components as soon as we can and run tasks in parallel if possible, to speed things up. Our plan is to start shipping in batches, aligned with how components would arrive. Starting with backers who backed first and then in chronological order. With all this, we are estimating to start shipping in Q2 2022. If there was no pandemic, we could do it faster. We are keeping in touch with vendors and if something changes and we can save some time, we'll sure do it. But for now, our target is Q2 2022 for shipping to begin.

We will use that time to further develop the software and add as many features as we can. We are making this remote for you, so we'll be announcing a beta program as we're progressing to get your feedback and improve on things whenever we can. This way, a few of you could experience Remote Two early on and help us perfect it. 🙂

Charging in the dock

We are very close to launching our Kickstarter campaign. We are working on a new website and of course the campaign page that has a lot more information about Remote Two and its features. We are preparing a software roadmap, so you can follow which items are done, what we are working on, planned features etc. Maybe even with a voting system to prioritise certain items. We'd like to make the development process as transparent as possible. As a teaser, we will be focusing on a few home automation systems, like Home Assistant, Homey, OpenHab, and devices like Philips Hue and Sonos, next to the IR control, including IR learning. But we'll publish a more detailed list on the updated pages.

We can't wait to show you more of Remote Two and bring you along the journey of how we get it into production.


Comment in the forum: https://community.yio-remote.com/t/preparing-for-kickstarter

2021-05-18

First blog post

This is the first blog post of the many we are planning to post to share the story of Remote Two. We have been working on Remote Two for a while now and we would like to share how we got here with you.

We started working on Remote Two less than a year ago, after realising that most of the people, who backed the DIY version 1, would just like to use the remote and not necessarily want to touch any code to set it up. Version 1 was a DIY kit, but looked like there was a need for a complete and user friendly product. So in the middle of the pandemic, we embarked on an exciting journey to create a forward looking version: Remote Two.

Improving on version 1

One of the biggest drawbacks of version 1 was battery life. The Raspberry Pi is a great, little, capable device, but the lack of standby mode made it impossible to achieve more than 14 hours of battery life. So we started looking at various SOCs and evaluated a few to find one that delivers on performance while provides a very low power consumption in standby. This was a very important step for us. After we found the right chip, we ported the existing remote software to test the performance and see how the user experience would look like. We got satisfying results, we were happy and moved on to the next step.

Early days of prototyping: testing various ICs to control the buttons


We wanted to create a device that is future proof. A remote that has all the hardware components to create the best experience. Even if it's not fully taken advantage in the early days, we can add features in software, but not in hardware. We have carefully chosen the components to make sure we keep power consumption low, but not compromising on capabilities. We had a list: OLED display, backlit buttons, microphone, speaker, accelerometer, ambient light sensor and haptic motor. Researching, testing and finally choosing the right components took a while, but we ended up with something that works really well.

Coming up with a design

From day one, design was one of our top priorities. Not just to create a product that looks good, but also functions well. We were looking for a common thread that can run across the product and user interface design. Fortunately, we didn't have to look anywhere else to find it: it's in our name: YIO. Your Input Output. A device that can connect to various platforms and services and provide a unified interface. Translating between APIs, making everything fit together. And that was it! Our common thread became the idea of transformation. We wanted to capture this idea in a very simple and subtle way that works in space as well as on the screen. Transforming a circle into a square was the simplest way to visualise our idea. And this became the leading principal in the design of Remote Two. The remote transforms from a round soft shape on the bottom to a more straight object holding the display on the top. This design is not just a nice take on our idea, but also makes the remote more comfortable to hold and easier to pick up from a table.

Our design idea of transformation spans across product and ui design


This thread runs through the UI design as well. The main screen works with straight, rectangular shapes, but as soon as you drill down to gain more granular control over devices, you see rounded corners and softer components.

Another important aspect of the new UI was to exploit the OLED display. With OLED, pixels light up individually, so we mainly use black backgrounds to help reducing power consumption. This also makes it possible to seamlessly integrate the screen into the glass surface, blurring the border between the edge of the panel and the glass touch overlay.

Prototyping with manufacturability in mind

We started sourcing and working with manufacturing partners early on in the design process, to make sure we're creating something that is manufacturable and designed for optimised production. We had the core shape of the remote from the very beginning, but it went through a lot of small adjustments. We have been constantly improving how the components fit together, thus also improving the assembly process.

One of the most difficult parts was to design a button assembly that has the right feel and fits within the shallow space we had. Maybe it is worth a separate blog post by itself 🙂 All I can say is that we are really happy how the buttons turned out. I hope you'll agree!

From 3D printed models to functional prototypes

Currently we have working prototypes with 95% close to final parts, that we have been testing basic functionality on. From now on, we are shifting to the software part of things. However there's a lot more to do. We hope with these blog series, you'll get a glimpse into getting YIO Remote Two realised.


Comment in the forum: https://community.yio-remote.com/t/first-blog-post