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Author Topic: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?  (Read 14006 times)

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Offline Talard

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2014, 07:15:27 pm »
Lars,

Just to be clear, i woulden't say your communication was bad, cause it's not the case! Updates are regular, and thx to the forum, we know we can always expect an answer when we post somthing!
I thanks you too for honest i'd ask before.

Now, i enderstand GatorEye and AARON talk about focus on HA part than Rooter one. I'm not specialized in devlopper matter but in network. That is perhaps the reason i think, bring a product with good HA part and/or an good rooter part is wainting for backers. It is really interesting to associate this two world that will fusion in the futur. As i already say in a post, bring a product that can use HA with computing network is really interesting (but it's not the point here). So I'm waiting as much as HA, as rooter on the Almond+ in order to do network security/managment and enter in HA world in practice for a good price! 95$ is really cheap for this type of product and i think HA have to be accessible for everyone.

I wait for the Almond+ and will continue to read the forum often in order to exchange with Securifi and the community. When i found your project i'd know the diffrence with buy a product witch is already finalised.
I want help to improve this product but for me it won't be in developping matters!

We keep in touch! :-D

Offline Patrick Wilson

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2014, 08:31:05 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.

The goal of the Almond+ is to provide a high end product that supports both high-end Router functions and Home Automation features in a single package.   We have been working very hard at creating a product that meets both of these goals.   (If you review all our Kickstarter updates,  you'll see some of challenges encountered along the way.

Some of our backers have been frustrated with some of the delays in getting our new Almond+ product into production,  but I'm pretty sure everyone will be happy with the final product.  Our final Almond+ product will far exceed the original specifications we published in our initial Kickstarter offering.  I'm sure you'll be impressed with the final product. 

I'll defer to Lars to address your comments about the potential for an "Almond v2" product.  (I'm not involved in future product development). 

 

Patrick Wilson
Victoria, BC Canada

Offline AARON

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2014, 09:00:13 pm »
Patrick,
It is nice to see you and Lars interacting with the community. And I'm positive you, and team, are working on what you believe is better than the original spec - I'm sure it is. The gap is not the goal, or even the delays so much... but when you add the delays to the lack of information about what the product will actually be when it is delivered, it does not instill confidence - it actually depletes it.

I suspect most backers (and potential buyers) could care less about "high-end Router functions". Today we get can buy many high-quality routers for pennies (like $20-50) and put on DDWRT, Tomato, Merlin, etc. I use a 4 year old Belkin 802.11n router with Tomato installed that gives me far more than 99% of people need or want. I've also purchased a $120 Netgear R6300 to test... besides a bit more range it is no better than the $20 (current price) Belkin+Tomato. Seriously, with respect, if you are focusing on the router you are wasting time.

I and others have posted several times exactly what information would constitute helpful communications... it seems your team is unable or unwilling to provide it. I'll stop asking for it as it seems all you and team can say is ... "its going to be great" ... which only makes things worse.

Offline GatorEye

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2014, 09:13:39 pm »
The goal of the Almond+ is to provide a high end product that supports both high-end Router functions and Home Automation features in a single package.   We have been working very hard at creating a product that meets both of these goals.

Some of our backers have been frustrated with some of the delays in getting our new Almond+ product into production,  but I'm pretty sure everyone will be happy with the final product.  Our final Almond+ product will far exceed the original specifications we published in our initial Kickstarter offering.  I'm sure you'll be impressed with the final product. 

I don't think anyone is buying your product primarily as a high end router. Seriously. Make a device that will make it easy to do home automation. 99.9% of people don't care about high end router functions and if they do...do as I said and make an Almond v2 that is just a high end router.

I'm not frustrated with the delay per se. I understand and agree with why they were done. I'm frustrated that:

  • I think that the dev units should be out well before the final units shipped.
  • That that router functions seem to be pretty well flushed out, but the HA features aren't.
  • The HA API isn't public by now so the devs like myself could be working with it and giving feedback on it.

Basically I'm trying to figure out why I spent so much for the developer backing level if I'm not going to get to see an early prototype well before anyone else sees it and gets to work with the API before it goes public.  Is the API only going to be limited to developer level backers?

I'm anxious to support you, but try to see things from my point of view given I backed you at the most expensive level. AT LEAST give devs access to the API you have at this point. After all you did promise early access to the SDK so I don't think it's too much to ask at a minimum to expose the SDK in the dev forums and get your developers in there to answer questions about it. The HA API should have been well flushed out before the hardware changes you made so I don't see why the extensive delay in releasing them.

I think we're all anxious to help make this a great product, but at this point, we don't have anything to work with.

LGNilsson

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2014, 09:51:47 pm »
Where to start...

We're a router company and the largest share of our Kickstarter backers seem to have pitched in because they wanted an affordable 802.11ac router, which was exactly what the original Almond+ hardware would've offered at that point in time, as at $99 back in early 2013, it was a great deal as a router, let alone as a router with home automation features tacked on.

That said, we can't deliver a half baked product and I will be discussing all your concerns with our software team today and see what we can do to improve what we already have in time for the mass production units shipping.

With regards to the dev units, we only ever said we'd deliver them 2-3 months ahead of the remaining units and although it looks like we'll fall slightly short on this promise, I can only apologize here about that and hope we can make up for lost time. Again, I need to get the software team involved with regards to the API and get at least the SDK out to you guys ASAP.

It's not a matter of the router functions being flushed out, in fact, we had both Z-Wave and ZigBee working way before we had Wi-Fi working, due to the issues we've had with our chipset partners.
We have an LCD UI up and running that allows for easy association and deassociation of sensors, something I think a lot of you will appreciate once you get your units, as it makes it a breeze to add and remove sensors. We also have an LCD UI that works with a wide range of sensors and devices, but it's not "pretty" at this point in time. On top of that we have working iOS and Android apps (with the Android one needing a bit more spit and polish in terms of looks) as well as a web UI that works on just about any platform that supports a modern web browser. In fact, I was demoing our setup at CES using the web app and you can see a picture of it in this article from Anandtech http://www.anandtech.com/show/7700/securifis-almond-platform-update-integrates-cortina-soc-with-qca-radios

The SDK will be limited to the developer backers for what I would guess will be the first six months or so, but again, I have to apologize here, as I don't have the full details on hand, but I know we're planning on opening it up to anyone interested in the future. You do get two Almond+ routers as well as a set of four sensors for your additional investment, plus actually SDK support from our software team, something that I don't think we're planning on giving non developer backers that wants to use the SDK in the future. That said, let me get this clarified and I'll get back to you with the full details.

I'll also discuss getting the SDK uploaded ASAP, as this is something I've been pushing for, but I'm not in charge of this, but at least now I have some very valid reasoning as to why this should already have been done. I feel like I'm only making excuses as to why things haven't been done here, but please believe me when I say that I'm very much pushing for a lot of things to happen, but as I'm not in charge of the product development, it's hard sometimes to convince the software team where they should be spending their resources.

I'm glad to hear that you guys are still keen on getting started with the Almond+ though and I'll discuss how we can improve things on our side from here on in, as we clearly have slipped up in some areas. I'm also going to request that there's a dedicated member of the software team that checks in regularly in the forums to discuss things like this with you guys in the developer forums, as again, this was something that was meant to have been done some time ago, but haven't happened.

I'll be reporting back in this thread later today (local time) to let you know how the meeting went.
 

Offline GatorEye

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2014, 10:12:50 pm »
Lars thanks for the feedback. I guess as a developer level backer I'd like to be seeing all the unfinished and unpolished stuff. After all that's really what I was paying for - to get in the mud and play and provide feedback while it's still dirty.  I don't care what's unfinished or doesn't look good. I don't EXPECT it to be finished or polished. I guess you could argue that's alpha vs. beta but I don't think anyone cares.  We want our hands on something...anything. That's pretty much the point.

Again - I have NO problem pushing it back to get the hardware right. I'm just saying by now you should have enough of the functionality and API done to get the dev backers a look at it. If you aren't to that point yet, I don't see how you'll be shipping a finished product anytime soon.  And again, if nothing else, get one of your devs in the forums so we can start hammering him with questions.  That will keep the barbarians from storming the gate. ;D


LGNilsson

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2014, 12:11:53 am »
It's all understood and as I said, I've scheduled a meeting for this afternoon (again local time) to discuss this with our software team. I wish I was enough of a programmer to help out, but I'm afraid it's something I realized quite quickly that I'd never be great at, even though I did study it at one point in my life.

The hardware is actually mostly done by now and so is all of the basic HA stuff, but we still have some work done on the Wi-Fi side of things which should be done in the next couple of days. From here on in, we'll start adding features and this is when we need to make sure that you guys have received the promised hardware, SDK etc. as well as start interacting with out software team.
I'll be here to help out with what I can, but there's a limit to my abilities.

LGNilsson

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2014, 06:09:08 am »
Ok, so here's what was discussed.

1. SDK - We're using our own SDK constantly for the product development, however, the reason we haven't released it yet comes down to two things 1. the SDK is continually being changed as we develop the product and 2. it's not documented properly as yet. As for the 14th of February I've been told that we should have a version for our developer level backers and it'll be exclusive to them for a yet to be determined period of time. The developer level backers will also get access to our software team at this point in time. I'm sorry this is very late, but this is the current situation.

2. API - We have an internal API based on LUA, it was never meant for public consumption, but that's now being looked at as something that will be released, but it'll require some extra work and we'd rather hold off doing this until we've shipped all the units to our backers. It's also lacking documentation and this is a project that will take some time to finish off, but as it's clearly wanted, I'll push for this to be done.

3. Most of you have hopefully seen our web app by now and although this is currently relying on our cloud service, but as we've promised, there will be a local version of the web app and this is something that none of our competitors can claim to offer today with the exception of the Vera guys. With the SDK you will technically be able to build your own local cloud setup and that should as far as I understood correctly, be able to work with the local web app.

I don't think this is what you guys wanted to hear, but we're working on getting things done and I hope you can see from this that we're listening to feedback.

I missed the part about not wasting our time on making a good router and that 99.9% of people don't care about this, but this is simply not true. In fact, most of the backers that have wanted a refund so far (this is still a very very small amount of backers btw) have all said they don't need their Almond+ any more, because they've gotten a new router already. Add to this that we've made some pretty good integration between the router part and the home automation part and there's a reason to use the Almond+ as a router. Admittedly it'll also work just fine in range extender or access point mode with the home automation features.

Did you guys see the short video from CES that I posted on Kickstarter? It does show a little bit more with regards to where we were a couple of weeks ago.

Offline GatorEye

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2014, 06:53:03 am »
Ok, so here's what was discussed.

1. SDK - We're using our own SDK constantly for the product development, however, the reason we haven't released it yet comes down to two things 1. the SDK is continually being changed as we develop the product and 2. it's not documented properly as yet. As for the 14th of February I've been told that we should have a version for our developer level backers and it'll be exclusive to them for a yet to be determined period of time. The developer level backers will also get access to our software team at this point in time. I'm sorry this is very late, but this is the current situation.

2. API - We have an internal API based on LUA, it was never meant for public consumption, but that's now being looked at as something that will be released, but it'll require some extra work and we'd rather hold off doing this until we've shipped all the units to our backers. It's also lacking documentation and this is a project that will take some time to finish off, but as it's clearly wanted, I'll push for this to be done.

3. Most of you have hopefully seen our web app by now and although this is currently relying on our cloud service, but as we've promised, there will be a local version of the web app and this is something that none of our competitors can claim to offer today with the exception of the Vera guys. With the SDK you will technically be able to build your own local cloud setup and that should as far as I understood correctly, be able to work with the local web app.

I don't think this is what you guys wanted to hear, but we're working on getting things done and I hope you can see from this that we're listening to feedback.

Did you guys see the short video from CES that I posted on Kickstarter? It does show a little bit more with regards to where we were a couple of weeks ago.

It seems that the stuff for developers is late coming but at least now you've given us some hope so I'm ok with that. I'd rather know than not know. I personally doubt I'd do anything with the C++ API and at least it will give me a month or so to learn LUA. :)

Item #3 is the entire reason I bought the Almond+ (no cloud requirement) so for me that's kind of the tipping point. I won't be doing anything with it until I can do everything locally in my own cloud. THAT is your selling point to HA enthusiasts.

Everything looked good in the video you posted. What was the model of that Sylvania Osram bulb? Was it WiFi/Zigbee?  Of all the bulbs of that sort is that the one you'd recommend? I've been wanting to purchase something (starting in my kitchen) but have been waiting to see what the Almond+ would work with and what actually looks good and works good. Granted it seems someone is coming out with some new bulb all the time. But since they are so expensive, I want to make the right choice the first time.

Thanks for continuing the open lines of communication. It's a big bonus you have that in your favor and will also give you an edge!

Offline eldaria

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2014, 07:35:20 am »
Hmm, I backed this project not so much for the Router features, but rather for the "HA baked into a powerful router at an affordable price" package deal thing.
If I wanted a powerful router only, then I have plenty of leftover hardware lying around that I could build a Linux router out of, If I wanted only HA I could go with one of the existing platforms, probably I would have gone with Fibaro's system. But I really like the Almond+ due to the compact design, touch screen and all in one packaging.

Today my home is routed with an Apple Time Capsule, so easy to use, not so much to configure. I wished I could configure VPN and other more advanced features, but it is not really the most important thing for me.
My plan is that when the Almond+ arrives, I'm going to put a rather big sum of money into buying devices to hook onto it and start automating my apartment. So for me the HA feature of this device is my main reason for getting it.

I picked the developer level to get early access to the test hardware and software, I like to tinker and hack. I like to test stuff and experiment. I'm no software developer as such, I do not know C++ very well, I can navigate my way around Python, various scripting languages and such, but nothing advanced. I mean it also includes the final unit in the pledge level so I never expected the developer version of the hardware to be a final product, especially not on the software/firmware side of things. I even pledged extra for an extra final unit as I did not expect the early developer version to be a reliable final product.

I actually even thought that Developer level would be earlier access than Beta level, but I know that it was listed as being same shipping time.
It makes more sense than what you now stated, that Developers have to wait longer than Beta? This to me is the wrong way around. To me, Beta testers would be testing what developers create.

Anyway, I'm a bit sad we missed the x-mas mark of things, I would have liked to show of my new stuff to the family. And I could have gotten the sensors and stuff from santa. ;-) But anyway I'm still very much looking forward to receiving my devices.

Offline AARON

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2014, 11:59:59 am »
2. API - We have an internal API based on LUA
DEFINITELY NEEDED...
Several coders from the Vera community backed A+. This will allow Vera coders to have an easier migration to coding for A+
Is there any windows/linux based emulator people can run to build/test code before the device is available?


3. Most of you have hopefully seen our web app by now and although this is currently relying on our cloud service, but as we've promised, there will be a local version of the web app and this is something that none of our competitors can claim to offer today with the exception of the Vera guys. With the SDK you will technically be able to build your own local cloud setup and that should as far as I understood correctly, be able to work with the local web app.
Yup, also a requirement for more savvy DIYers. I know many, including myself, that will not buy a subscription service and/or be dependent on an internet connection/service to be available. As we all know, they go down even the big boys... Amazon, MSFT, etc.

I missed the part about not wasting our time on making a good router and that 99.9% of people don't care about this, but this is simply not true. In fact, most of the backers that have wanted a refund so far (this is still a very very small amount of backers btw) have all said they don't need their Almond+ any more, because they've gotten a new router already. Add to this that we've made some pretty good integration between the router part and the home automation part and there's a reason to use the Almond+ as a router. Admittedly it'll also work just fine in range extender or access point mode with the home automation features.

You somewhat validated my point here. The value proposition you had (past tense) for good quality bargain priced AC router is dead - for the reasons I already stated, thus you are seeing the majority of people asking for refunds stating exactly that. NOW, today and going forward... A+ value proposition is 99% based on Home Automation.  Having a built-in router is nice for some but for savvy techs actually a detractor. Most techies know yo should separate functions for mission critical devices. If they are combined, when I do maintenance on one (firmware, reboot, etc) I now have an outage for both... and if something goes wrong (device bricks, physically dies, etc) I'm screwed.  Convergence sounds great, in theory, but when things go wrong you quickly hate yourself for it.


LGNilsson

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2014, 09:52:37 pm »
Actually, if you go and look at the latest Kickstarter update, you'll see that most of the comments are about router performance and not HA, so I guess your assessment here is incorrect.
That said, yes, the HA features are a value proposition and that was always the idea with the Almond+.

I know our software team is working on a means to not only just back up your router settings, just as any other router out there, but also the sensor settings, so in case your Almond+ was to fail, it should be possible to restore all the settings, including any connected sensors. I hope this will be done before we ship the final units, but it's a little bit tricky to do due to how the sensors are associated. This should at least help with your concerns that you have a more integrated device and in case something fails, you'll have more of a hassle to get things back up and running again.

It would be interested to know how many Vera coders we have, although from my understanding after having talked to our software team, due to the very different hardware and software architecture, it won't be a straightforward recompile to make Vera apps work on the Almond+. I guess the biggest issue is that the Vera is MIPS based, we're ARM Cortex-A9 based and the two are quite different to write software for.

Offline AARON

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #27 on: January 21, 2014, 01:17:53 am »
I know our software team is working on a means to not only just back up your router settings, just as any other router out there, but also the sensor settings, so in case your Almond+ was to fail, it should be possible to restore all the settings, including any connected sensors. I hope this will be done before we ship the final units, but it's a little bit tricky to do due to how the sensors are associated. This should at least help with your concerns that you have a more integrated device and in case something fails, you'll have more of a hassle to get things back up and running again.
Backup/restore is commonplace with any system. If it does not have this, it does not meet minimum standards that anyone I know would accept.This does not address the two issues I mentioned...
1) maintenance requires taking both HA & Wifi offline.
2) a dead Almond+ is really 2 dead devices (1 router + 1 HA) ... today, everyone has 2 separate devices, if one goes down, the other still runs. Thus, if my router dies, my Vera is up - and  my HA & security system is still running. If my Vera dies, my Wifi is still up. In an Almond+ only world, they both die at the same time if the hardware dies.

I'm not saying it will happen. But the odds of 2 separate devices failing at the same time is very low vs 1 device. Maybe you can design an active-passive cluster of Almond+ devices - now that would be a router feature no one has brought to the home market ;-)

btw... will the router have the ability to fail-over the internet connection? Say to a 4G MiFi/hotspot?  Again, that is a high-end feature most routers don't have and would put Almond+ in a different league than most (not all, some do have that).  I'm still trying to figure out what high-end routing features will make Almond+ different than any other router?   My apologies if I missed this on an update somewhere.

It would be interested to know how many Vera coders we have, although from my understanding after having talked to our software team, due to the very different hardware and software architecture, it won't be a straightforward recompile to make Vera apps work on the Almond+. I guess the biggest issue is that the Vera is MIPS based, we're ARM Cortex-A9 based and the two are quite different to write software for.

... This is only an issue for C++ and exactly why LUA should be the main focus for apps for A+. There will always be a need for some porting for code from one platform to another but LUA is much easier for a non-professional to deal with than C++.  And, everything for Vera is in LUA and Java.


LGNilsson

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2014, 02:05:47 am »
Well, besides the Vera, show me a single HA controller today that you can backup all the sensors of.
We also have a very fast replacement service where we ship out the replacement unit before asking for the old unit back and as we have an in-house support team, replacements are expedited very quickly.
Yes, failures do happen, but if your router fails, you'll most likely not have access to your HA devices anyhow, at least not once again, unless you're using a Vera.

Yes, we can use a MiFi device (WWAN on the current Almond) and we'll have support for 3G dongles for internet access, although at the moment I don't think we've implemented active failover.

For LUA, I've already let our CEO know what you guys are saying, but ultimately it's up to him and our software team to work this out.

Offline AARON

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Re: REAL ETA on shipping to early backers... and what are we getting!?
« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2014, 11:16:17 am »
Yes, we can use a MiFi device (WWAN on the current Almond) and we'll have support for 3G dongles for internet access, although at the moment I don't think we've implemented active failover.

... 4G Mifi active fail over is a big PLUS for me. This raises the value prop greatly for me. Even better would be to be able to have it Active/Active so we could load balance or even pre-determine what traffic uses which link first. For instance: traffic to XYZ domain uses this link or all FTP uses that link, etc

 

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