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Author Topic: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?  (Read 14007 times)

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Offline AARON

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Is there a real ETA for shipping these?

... I paid in early March 2013... IF these actually get to be before Feb it will have been about 10 months, an ~4 months late.

What this means in the reality is that now, 801..11AC routers are common and often only cost $70 - thus the value proposition is now lower UNLESS  the ZWave & Zigbee home automation is actually really good / polished and is actual Home Automation, not 'device control + some basic scheduling' like what I'm seeing from Revolv and other start-ups promising they will change the world but only delivering less than what I've been doing myself for the past 10 years as an HA DIY hobbyist.

Questions remain... WHAT will be shipped (features/functions/etc) and WHEN?



Offline Mike

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2014, 04:10:25 am »
If you just wanted a common AC router then go get one, the almond+ is capable of so much more,.. even if functionality is limited to device control when it gets shipped, it beats current products im aware of, in cost, size and interface/connectivity. But i do hope, and believe more advanced control wil be possible, at launch or otherwise from (community) updates.

However i have to admit, its getting hard to stay patient,... it would be good to know when the developper units will be shipped and get some updates on HA part of the software.  And i have to agree with aaron, it is getting time to get some sort of eta.

Offline AARON

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2014, 10:29:13 am »
We need an firm ETA.. AND a feature/functionality list.

Exactly, what am I getting for my $100 ... we've seen NOTHING on this product. It is vapor-ware at this point.  There are many new competitors in the HA market now and more in the horizon - all removing anything compelling about Almond+ since (a) there is nothing in hand and (b) nothing even shown for features & functionality.

LGNilsson

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2014, 02:42:32 am »
Easy now boys and girls, no need to get up in arms over things  ;)

I'm in Las Vegas at the moment, having just set up all our demos for CES which officially starts tomorrow morning.
We'll be showing the Almond+ and we'll be demoing the home automation features of it, although I'd be the first to admit that we still have a lot of work to do.

The good news is that we have very quick Z-Wave association and we work with just about every Z-Wave device out there. ZigBee association is a bit slower, but we query the devices and we already support a wide range of devices here too. We have custom controls for most devices already, although this needs a lot of tweaking still in terms of look and feel, but for example, we have dimmer support, power measurement support and thermostat support all up and running and you can control the devices from the touch screen of the Almond+ or our mobile apps. The web UI is still slightly limited in terms of the type of devices it supports, but it's simply a matter of us adding all the various types here, as well as on the mobile app side.

Yes, we're late, but as I explained earlier today on Kickstarter, we've had some unforeseen issues with the platform we changed to, but almost all of those have been resolved by now. Due to the holiday season, we couldn't finish solving all the issues by when we'd hope to have them done, but they should be sorted out this week. We might sound like we're talking crap in our updates and just making excuses as to why we're late, but the Almond+ won't be a run of the mill router and integrating support for all the features we've been requested to add by  our Kickstarter backers (yes, we still have a feature freeze) has taken time. We still need to improve things in the UI, but this is a piece of cake compared to the work we've already put into the Almond+. As of right now, we're focusing on stability, stability and stability. Once we've reached that, then we'll start adding all the fancy stuff and some promised features won't be delivered until after you've received your hardware.

Keep in mind that we issue regular updates, unlike most other router makers. We've added a lot of new features to the Almond over its life span and we'll still be adding more things for that platform. With the Almond+ we have vastly improved hardware and as such, a much better base for adding new features over time. We already have a ton of plans for what we want to add to further improve the product, but right now, our goal is to get the Almond+ done as quickly as possible.

We'll be shipping the beta/developer units this month. The only other hurdle we have to overcome right now, is to get the Almond+ certified for all the regions we have backers in and this is something that will take time and that we can't skip, as it's a legal requirement. This is also one of those things where we have zero control over how long time it'll take as these things are done by independent labs and we're not the only ones doing these types of tests. That said, our current goal is to get the Almond+ out before the end of this quarter and I honestly believe that it shouldn't be a problem.

We're truly sorry about all the delays, but we didn't expect to run into many of the problems we faced with the new platform, but I also believe we'll have a much better router than the dime a dozen Broadcom based products out there.

Offline AARON

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2014, 12:02:45 pm »
Hi Lars,
I'm not really upset, much, that it is late. It is that, then you add to it we've not seen any feature set list for the HA side. I could not care less on the wifi/router side as they all function the same and that is not why I put my $ in... I put it in hoping the HA platform would be solid.

I run a Vera3 (Zwave) and an ISY 944i (Insteon) and have been an HA hobbyist for 15 years.  Really looking for the 'next' thing. Most "Home Automation" coming to market is not HA, it is 'Home Control' ... with very little actual automation. The units I run are true automation systems, that also allow manual control (Android, iOS, web, etc)

I'd like to know things such as...
What does the automation actions/rules/programs allow you to do?  ... beyond the basic time/date schedules
How is it programmed? ...  Built-in GUI using IF/Then/Else? Python? etc
How complex can the automation be? Variables, state checks, etc.
What about 3rd party integrations using REST, CURL, etc?
What about mobile apps for control?
... and so on.


LGNilsson

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2014, 02:27:52 am »
I wish I could answer all your questions, but I can't, simply because the software isn't finished yet.
We have plans for things, but a lot of things are like to change based on user feedback from people like you.
I have a Vera Lite at home and in as much as it has some powerful features, it's also got a horrid user experience imho.
I meet with Insteon at CES today and we'll have a proper chat with those guys, but it's not impossible that we might add some kind of support in the future for at least the wireless Insteon standard, or at the very least, do some kind of integration for their control hub.

What I can tell you though is that at the moment, we only have simple on/off or dimming control for most devices, although things like power measurement readout works on some devices, but most likely not all, as this is quite devices specific. Why nothing else? Well, because this is the core functionality that really needs to work well and be stable and this is our focus right now. Adding/removing devices is done via a unified UI for both ZigBee and Z-Wave and this works extremely well via the touch screen and it's dead easy to use with most sensors, unless they have a complex means of initializing association.

Long term, the plan is to offer something similar to IFTTT, but as this isn't done yet, I'm not quite sure how it'll work. It won't be IFTTT as such, but the plan is to do our own version of something like it. Theses things alongside schedules, will be done via the web UI or the mobile apps.
We will have an iOS app which we've already posted a short video off and as mentioned, we also have a web app that's platform agnostic and we also have an Android app in the works.

Sadly, the only thing I can promise is that we'll unveil these things as they're finished off and then we'll make changes as needed/requested. We want to make the Almond+ meet your requirements in as much as possible and we know it won't be perfect from launch. We will also have an SDK, but it'll require some programming know how in C++. That said, most of you shouldn't have to consider this as an option.

I can only ask you guys to please be patient with us and let us get you the product to start with and then we can work together to make it work the way you want it to. Does this sound like a fair deal?

Offline dbuttke

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2014, 01:02:09 pm »
Fair deal  suppose, but keep the info coming.  Something is better than nothing in this case.

Where is the video that you promised the week of CES?
Progress reports would be nice.

LGNilsson

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2014, 11:21:21 pm »
Sorry, I haven't had time to edit and upload it yet, as sadly no-one else in the office can edit video.

As things are looking right now, the beta units will be going out on time, but we still have a bit of work to do before mass production.

Offline Talard

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2014, 04:39:42 am »
Fair deal  suppose, but keep the info coming.  Something is better than nothing in this case.

Where is the video that you promised the week of CES?
Progress reports would be nice.

Yes please! We can't have the product yet so please let us see what we will recived in order to be patient!

As things are looking right now, the beta units will be going out on time, but we still have a bit of work to do before mass production.
Are you saying that for non devloppers backers, the Almond+ won't be shipped in the end of February ?

I think this post is represent all backers witch pay to be a part of a great project, but we have almost no new informations since Kickstarter.
Please, consinder people who trade idees with you in forum, witch help in order to support a product they belive in and send us simple informations as "whene the product will be shiped" at leaste. If you coulden't i think you can open a post with informations in real time on what is waiting fo somting, why and when do you expect to solve it, or what tasks are still waiting before shipped units...

In simple word, we just want to keep in touch in order to help us to wait.


LGNilsson

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2014, 07:43:39 am »
This is the current situation:

We've made a pilot run of boards, these are going out to the beta and developer backers in two batches, starting with the beta guys, as the SDK for the developers need a little bit more work, so the developer units won't be shipped until after Chinese New Year (manufacturing is done in Taiwan), but the beta units will go out before Chinese New Year.
These units will be slightly different from the final units and won't feature the same spit and polish in terms of the casing etc. as they're pre-production units.

We're working on getting all the certifications done, as we need to meet a lot of legal requirements to be able to ship the final products and this takes a fair amount of time to do and it's somewhat out of our hands as we have to book times at third party test labs for this and if they're busy, we simply have to wait on our turn. We also need to get Z-Wave and ZigBee certification done and although we can do all these things in parallel, it takes time to get this done.

Once all the certifications have been done, we'll go into mass production and as soon as this happens, we'll be posting an update on Kickstarter and send out the survey there with regards to the final mass production units that all of our backers from $95 and up will receive.  However, as we don't have an exact date today as to when we'll go into mass production, it doesn't make sense to give you a date that we can't guarantee, as we don't want to make another promise that we can't deliver on. We do believe that we'll be able to start shipping the retail units before the end of this quarter, but keep in mind that we have three major SKU's (North America, Europe and APAC) and five different colour options, so there'll be a lot of logistics work on our side to get everything shipped correctly.

It's easy to tell us what and how we should do things, but please keep in mind that we're not D-Link, Asus or Netgear, we're a very small player in the market and we do have limited resources. We're of course using those as well as we can and our focus is now 110% on the Almond+ and getting it out to all of our backers. Once that's done, the hard work is far from over, as that's when we start working with our backers at improving things, adding new features and what not.

Please be patient, things are coming together and we're sorry that they've taken longer time than we initially anticipated, but it's been more work to get the new platform to a production ready state than we expected, many due to some issues between our main chipset partners, but these are now resolved and we just have some finetuning to do.

Offline AARON

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2014, 10:21:23 am »
Lars,
I appreciate you being honest with us as of late. This, and much more, information should have been provided long ago. Remember the "Estimated delivery: Sep 2013" was provided on Kickstarter.  Now what I'm reading from your post there is a ton of work still left and are you are predicting to get it all done in 2 months (~6 months late), this seems unlikely provided your track record on predictions and delivery.

Even if it ships this Qtr, I'm reading the system will be a wifi router with only a barebones developer kit / minimal API, and only basic features for Home Automation (more like basic Home Control & not HA at all)

I understand how these things get developed... really I do. Things slip, but it is clear your team bit off way more than you could chew. You should have kept it simple (one country, one color, no BS). You should have focused on product, not logistics.  I have no clue what you've been doing all this time? Your base is OpenWRT and looked to be running back in June - 7 months doing what?

I'm close to losing complete faith in this product being viable for Home Automation (beyond just limited/basic home control) anytime soon after launch, and potentially it may be too late to be competitive in the market anyway... vs the likes of Revolv, Smarthings, Staples Hub, Lowes Iris, and several others that have a huge head start. I don't see how you will win developers, let alone a large enough user community?

You'd need to have an amazing value proposition, ease of community development (requiring C++ means you don't) and marketing campaign to make up lost ground... all of which I also don't have faith you can do or have the expertise to do given your recent track record.

I did not throw $100 a this just to complain - I wanted it to success. Heck, I still do. But your lack of any real communication until very recently, the lack of any detailed feature list, and the clear lack of ease of development for the user community is all unbelievably disappointing.  You should have talked to and listened to your investors.- brought them into the process from Day 1.


LGNilsson

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2014, 11:26:51 am »
We did provide this info back in May in update #12 and added more details in update #18 and #20 on Kickstarter.
The estimated delivery date can not be updated, as it's part of the campaign that is now locked.

Colours and country has nothing to do with the delays, that's merely a shipping/logistics issue, sorry if I wasn't clear on this, what I meant was that we might not get all units out by the end of this quarter due to this, as we're only so many people in the Taiwan office due to the main part of our team being in our Indian office and doing software development (as well as support and a few other things). As such, this is a huge task for us to handle and something we have to work out in a smart way. We'll most likely hire extra staff to help with the shipment though, so this shouldn't be a concern at this point in time.

OpenWRT was running, but we had a bare system back then without the NutsOS additions, no Wi-Fi, no home automation, no LCD support, pretty much nothing was in place, so our software team has had a huge task in front of them to integrate all of this and make it work. No, we won't be shipping a useless product, it'll be a fully functional router with all the features you'd come to expect from us, but yes, we might not have all the home automation features there on day one, but this is also why we're working on getting out the beta units as soon as possible so we can get the feedback we need from those backers. We have plans for what we need to get done and most of that should be in place by the time you get your unit. However, will it be what you want/expected/need? I don't know, as I don't know what kind of setup you want to build or already have in place.

Have you tried Revolv? I have and they're in a far worse place than we are, I'd suggest reading a few reviews from actual users of it, but just such a simple thing like the inability to deassociate sensors is just crazy. Lowe's Iris as I already mentioned is far from a good product and you have to pay them $10 a month to get full functionality. SmartThings isn't bad, but they lack support for more than half of the sensors I tried to use with their hub, i.e. anything with ZigBee that wasn't made by them. Staples Connect I haven't had a chance to try, so I can't say too much, but I spoke to a guy that works for Vera at CES and he said it was pretty awful. Do we want to end up in this segment? No, not at all, that would be a nightmare and we really want to avoid that. What you read was meant mainly for the beta/dev guys and I'm sorry if that wasn't clear, but admittedly I don't believe will be able to deliver everything we've promised on day one. That said, we will have a product that at least will have fully working basics, which is more than I can say about some of our competitors and I'm honestly not out to try to throw dirt at them, as I have no reason to do so, but they have at least as much, if not more work to do than we have.

The SDK is based on C++, but it's not meant for everyone. As I'm not based with the software team, I don't have a 100% insight on what they're working on, but I know there will be a friendly way of creating scenes, schedules and events. It's not something we can skip, as it would make for a very poor home automation product and considering that this is something we'll be focusing more on from here on in as a company, if we fail with the Almond+, we're pretty much done for.

I'd be interested in knowing who you think are our competitors, as although the Almond+ won't retail for $99, it'll still be a competitive product in the market, as the home automation part will be literally "free" since all the devices you mentioned, requires a router to work and many of them aren't exactly cheap and/or require a monthly plan to work properly. Are we going to have a flawless, perfect product on day one? Most likely not, but it'll be easier to use than any competing product I've used to date.

We've been providing regular updates on Kickstarter, the forum has been live for a few months and we're always available via email, so I'm not sure how you can say we don't communicate. I'm sitting here on a Sunday night replying to your questions as I think it's important that we keep things as clear and straight with our backers as possible. That said, we did make a promise we couldn't deliver on due to a wide range of issues that we had to solve with our chipset partners and that took far longer than we anticipated and it's something we've learnt from for the future. Was it a mistake to change the platform five months in to the Kickstarter project? Maybe, but at least the Almond+ will be a product I'll be happy to use and one I hope you guys will also be happy to use, rather than something that wouldn't meet your expectations at all and that would've had a lot of limitations due to the choice of hardware components.

I do have to say that I think you're being a bit unfair, as we have informed all of our backers about what would take place, we simply underestimated the time it would take us to have a fully working solution based on the new platform. We even offered a refund back in May and we continue to offer refunds to anyone that asks for one. Yes, refunds aren't the same as delivering on a promised product and we truly are sorry about the delays, it's equally frustrating on our side though, so please, be patient and we'll get there very soon. 

I'm not sure if this will put your mind at ease or cause even more frustration, but I'm as eager as our backers to get my hands on the final product. In fact, I joined the company in April, so I had no involvement in the actual Kickstarter process, but I'd seen the product and it was partially why I applied for a position with Securifi as I believed it was an interesting and sound product. Yes, I get to test things in the office, but I don't have a unit at home yet and I'm not even going to have one ahead of the beta backers. They'll be the people we'll be working with to hopefully make the Almond+ more into the product you want and expect, regardless of our current plans, as we'll be listen on the feedback from those guys until the day we go into mass production and beyond.

I can only apologize again for the delays, but I do honestly believe it'll be worth the wait.

Offline GatorEye

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2014, 12:06:34 pm »
A few comments from a developer point of view. It's hard to read someone's feeling in a post, so my comments are coming from a point of disappointment instead of anger.

As a developer backer I thought I would have had a beta unit long before now with the SDK ready to go. You comment that the retail units should be coming within a month or so of the dev units doesn't make sense to me. Why should I have spent that much money to get a beta unit when the production run is going to be right on the heels of it?

I would have thought the beta units with a fully developed API would have been in the hands of developer and beta level backers a while ago with many months of testing and developing to help flush out the bugs and add minor enhancements before the final release. Instead it appears little to any of the HA features are done (which is why people are buying this in the first place). The robust HA features should have been done by now. Enhancing the router features to me seems pointless. If I want a router, I'd buy the Almond (or something else). Well actually I won't because I already have a router, as do most people. 

It just sounds like little to no thought or progress has been made on the HA hub and no release of the API makes me really nervous. I was expecting a fully feature functional HA hub in the dev unit but it seems like you are far from that.

Not only that but a C++ API is about the least user friendly language you could have selected from the myriad of languages out there today.  Although I guess it was made because you are dealing with the low level hardware, but a higher level abstraction would have been nice. You tangentially address that with a "friendly" way to create services, etc. but as a developer, I'd like to know what that is.

As a developer level backer, I'd expect your developers to be present in the developer forums by now with API examples and answering pretty much any question I have. What is the "friendly" way of creating services and schedules. Again I thought that was the purpose of spending the money to be a developer level backer - that I'd have access to your developers well before the final units ship.

I hope the product will advance rapidly once it gets in the wild, but honestly I'm disappointed at this point. Of course, I could change my opinion once I get my hands on it.

I will say you have been excellent in your communication on kickstarter and here in the forums and I commend you for that. That is your best chance at attracting and keeping a loyal following. Other kickstarter projects could clearly learn from you in that regard. Honesty (even if it's something we don't want to hear) is better than lying or saying nothing at all, so that's why I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that this product will make it.  Your communication has for the most part been excellent. The problem is, I want to hear the same level from the developers.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:10:04 pm by GatorEye »

Offline AARON

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2014, 12:10:39 pm »
Lars (and GatorEye),
Notice I have not ask for a refund. I'm disappointed, not at all angry - just passionate maybe :)

I agree with GatorEye's comments.

I do want this to succeed and I still want to be part of that. I have a ton of HA experience, and a good amt of product development/marketing/etc - I never expected Almond+ to be a market lead from launch. Both the router and HA space it tough, lots of competition. I don't see much value of having yet another router in the market (you've seen Cisco recently divest) - too many big names, and very good product already filling that space.

There is a ton of value to have a great HA solution. I own/use Vera3 and ISY-944i (plus used many other apps like mControl, Homeseer, etc for years). Nothing yet is perfect, of course. I believe this space is just starting to take off and first comers (even lack-luster performance from the likes of Revolv, Iris, etc) show there is a great DIY demand. But those guys don't get it yet - but they have first comer advantage, and a lot of marketing/press to help gain acceptance. Today, Vera is as close as we can get to 'perfect' DIY HA solution (device + software) today - Homeseer is probably the best PC app.  I'd like to see A+ one up them... the key to this is to engage your community to assist (Vera's major gap is not doing this).  There are great developers and hack-coders (myself included) willing to make a good product much better.  We will need more that an SDK with C++ interface... we need thins that are much easier to use, like Python, LUA, etc.

When I talk about giving us more info/detail this is what I speak of... what interfaces will we have to code to, what HA features/functions will be ready at launch and then the roadmaps shortly there-after, will there be a way for user code to get published to the masses (like Vera's free app store), etc ... this way we can prepare to fill gaps with community based code.

If these things have been thought out... tell us.  If they have not, engage us to help you design what needs to be in place to make this not just successful... but game changing.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 12:13:23 pm by AARON »

Offline GatorEye

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2014, 12:43:51 pm »
I echo AARON. It really sounds like you've let people push the router features.  If you want a place at the table, you need to tout and enhance the HA features and give it a robust easy to use API. Again - you want an advanced router, make an Almond v2. This shouldn't be the product for that.

I use Homeseer myself. The one I'd watch out for is Fibaro. They are just starting to enter the US market as they seem established overseas since they are based in Poland and they have a lot of really interesting sensors - slick marketing, and from what I've seen, a pretty good API that uses LUA.

Frankly you will get swept away or under the carpet if you can't make this easy for developers and non-developers to enhance. Unfortunately I don't see anything that leads me to believe that...yet.

 

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