April 7, 2011

The world’s first Jellypods

Posted in CAD/CAM, China, Design, Factory, Hong Kong, Materials, Production tagged , at 5:07 pm by Kilo

It’s been a very busy 48 hours that started with a long train journey into the heart of China’s industrial hinterland near Guangzhou.

But what awaited us was worth the wait: the first Jellypods on the planet.

The world's first Jellypods prototype

The world's first Jellypods prototype

These are pre-production prototypes, so they are not yet ready to be used properly – the moulds are not polished, the seams are unfinished, the thickness of the walls is a bit on the fat side, the transparency and colour shading is very rough and not ready for the stringent checks at an airport x-ray machine, and the product itself has several flaws in the design we still need to work on. But still it is a massive step forward and you can see the huge grin of delight in holding that puppy for the first time!

We knew most of these issues were going to be present, along with a few unknown unknowns, as Donald Rumsfeld called them; it’s almost impossible to know if a product like this will work right off the press or not, and we expected some re-work and problem solving. Below you can see the team discussing one of the major issues and trying out a few ideas right out on the factor floor, and it is worth saying that the production and operations people at our partners have been really fantastic, spending a lot of time with us discussing options and suggesting alternatives and possibilities.

Brainstorming on the shop floor

What was really very nice after all this time was to be able to actually see the production process, step-by-step, and really visualize some of the core issues in what we are trying to do with Jellypods from a manufacturing standpoint. Yes, it’s a cool little silicone bag, and you’d think that would be easy to make. But our partners, who showed us some really quite amazingly complicated medical silicone products, are really stretching to find a way to make this thing – it’s not even close to being easy. 

The Jellypods body mould

But despite this issues, which we are confident we will resolve in fairly short order, it was very satisfying to finally hold a complete Mk 1 Jellypod in the hand, and feel that thing for real for the first time. It was a real feeling of success to finally have this prototype in silicone in our hands to squeeze and stretch. 

A row of Jellypods bodies literally hot off the presses

So what are the issues we have to solve?

Well, some are major, and some are minor. On the minor side, as you can see, these Jellypods are quite cloudy and nowhere near transparent enough for the security screening process – that is mainly due to the un-polished mould being used in the prototyping process, but it will not be an issue in final production. The coloration is also an experimental stage, with too much pigment, but it gives an idea of the shape of Jellypods. And we realized we had over-engineered the thickness in several areas, adding too much weight, making the product more expensive than it needs to be, and less elegant than it will be in the final version.

Jellypods Mk 1, with and without the curvy zipper attached

One of the largest issues is the zipper section. It’s a novel design that uses a harder grade of silicone, and to be perfectly honest we need to go back to the drawing board to make it work right, because right now it doesn’t do what we want it to do. But we have a cunning plan to fix it, and that plan is already being put into action.
  
The next steps are to refine the design and troubleshoot the key issues we discovered, then take Jellypods forward to the Mk 2 version – high gloss, polished, fully functional, lighter weight, ready for shipping.
 
But we took some major steps forward in the past couple of long days, and overall we are very happy with the progress and professionalism of our partners.

April 4, 2011

Welcome to Hong Kong, en route to the Jellypods factory

Posted in Airlines, Competition, Frequent Flyer, Hong Kong, Marketing, Production, Prototyping at 9:20 pm by Kilo

Well here we are safe and sound in Hong Kong, wrapped in the very welcoming arms of the Mira Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.

  

With an 11 hour flight and 6 hours of time lapse, we’re adjusting slowly, but it’s hard to stay sitting still in such a vibrant city, so we’re using a day or two to enjoy the sights and sounds: in just one day we managed to see the world’s longest escalators in Soho, scoot around the markets of Gough and Graham Streets where you can buy a bag of frogs (literally), stroll past what was once the world’s most expensive building in Central, visit the former colonial Marine Police HQ at Hutton House, grab Martinis at the 18th floor cocktail bar Cocky, with views across Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island, and visit what feels like the world’s largest shopping mall by Star Ferry pier.

 

It’s all very lively and buzzing with energy and once our own bodies catch up we’ll let you know.

*** IMPORTANT NOTE TO BETA TESTER CANDIDATES ***

Those of you subscribed to the Jellypods email news service will know you are the special few who will get the chance to be a Jellypods beta tester, receviing on of the first 25 samples for free – we’ll even pay shipping. So if you haven’t signed up yet, you still have time to do so at www.jellypods.com.

But time is running out, and it’s now important that you sign up right away, as tomorrow’s blog will contain the details of the little challenge we are going to set those of you who want to own a beta sample, allowing you to become one of the first people on the planet to have a Jellypods travel bag.

Because we have more subscribers than Jellypods samples, we have set up a small, fair selection process. It will be very simple, with one component that is kind of skill- based, and one that is kind of time-based. Nothing silly, just a little bit of fun adna fair deadline as we have people reading this all over the planet. But miss the window and you miss the chance to be selected!

So stay carefully tuned in the next 24 hours for an email update!

April 2, 2011

Flying to the Jellypods factory

Posted in Airlines, Hong Kong, Production at 8:57 am by Kilo

Tonight at 21:55 CET we begin our journey half way around the world to visit the manufacturing plant helping us build the Jellypods.

It’s been a fascinating journey to get to this stage, and honestly it was very, very interesting to realize that, just like many other manufacturers, our path led us the the Pacific Rim; it wasn’t our intention, and we interviewed about a dozen firms in Europe, USA and Asia, but the in the end the company that showed the most interest in helping us achieve our goals was one based in Hong Kong.

When other (German) firms wanted literally identity cards to know who we were before talking to us; while some just did not respond to about 10 requests for quotation; while others made it clear they needed huge deposits to even talk to us; and while others just responded with “this can’t be done”; one company consistently responded promptly, carefully and with very useful inputs and suggestions on how to solve production problems.

And in the end, the price of each unit, which is largely a function of the amount of silicone used in the product, wasn’t even a major factor: the choice was simply down to customer service and a trusted working relationship.

So tonight we spend 11 hours in the air and next week we visit our partner in Hong Kong. And as we travel to visit the production facilities over the next few days we’ll be updating this blog with short video blogs and travel notes.

So stay tuned as we see the first 100% real Jellypods coming off the production line!