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Author Topic: How close are we to shipment date?  (Read 8666 times)

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Offline AARON

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #30 on: May 04, 2014, 01:59:40 am »
As you may or may not know, embedded Linux distributions sadly don't follow the standard Linux roadmap and what we were given with the development kit was a working version of OpenWRT, albeit far from finished for a retail product. We've had to work with Cortina and QCA to get Wi-Fi working properly on the platform and we've worked with ASMedia to get their drivers onto the platform.
These are things that are normally already part of the package when you get a reference design for a product like this, but as Cortina doesn't offer a complete solution with Wi-Fi etc. this wasn't part of their standard development platform.

On top of this we've created our own user interface, local sensor/device control and SDK among many other things. We've updated several applications that came as part of OpenWRT as well, as some of those were not suitable for our needs, or as in the case of OpenSSL, there was a "small" bug...
The HA part has also required a lot of additional work as the current platform is quite different in terms of its peripheral interfaces and we've had to do a lot of changes here, as well as for the LCD UI, including writing some new drivers from scratch for the touch screen. Keep in mind that we had to redo the entire LCD UI, as we went from a 320x240 display to a 480x320 display. We're still making improvements with regards to how some things work here to try to make the user experience as good as possible.

Yes, the ARM processor is a lot more powerful, but it has very little to do with the development process, as the software is being developed on PC's, not on the router itself. What it has allowed us to do is to build a router that will be a lot more capable in comparison to the original Almond+. For example, it'll be very possible to replace a home NAS with it, as the USB 3.0 performance is exceptionally good, but more on that soon.

Keep in mind that we're still a comparatively small company, but as an example, when we switched to OpenWRT, our UI developer had never coded for Lua/LuCI in his life before and it took him a mere three weeks to create the initial version of of NutsOS. That said, we've refined it and improved since then and it still need some additional spit and polish, but it has nothing in common with the standard OpenWRT UI.

I know you guys are getting frustrated, but believe me when I say that so are we. In hindsight maybe we should've done things differently and we could've had the Almond+ with you earlier, but I'm not sure it would've been as a unique product as what we have today. Yes 802.11ac routers a commonplace today, but the Almond+ is not a run of the mill router. If you just want a router, then the Almond+ is most likely going to be overkill for your needs, but for all of those of you that are interested in getting a unique product that can do so much more than just shuffle data between your devices and the internet, the Almond+ is something that none of our competitors can offer. We're only scratching the surface of the home automation side of things and we're here to work with you guys to make this a great product. In fact, I believe our work has only started once we've shipped the Kickstarter units, as that is when we'll be getting proper feedback and requests from everyone.

Lars,
questions and comment on a few of your points...

'unique product'
- can you elaborate on what will make this device different than anything else?  I'm asking, beyond the combining of a router with an HA controller?

'very possible to replace a home NAS'
- What makes Almond+ stand out and make me want to kick my Synology to the curb?
- Many, many routers do this, at a very basic level, today or even better, so does a $20 Pogo Plug or RasberryPi. Netgear/ASUS's most recent AC routers serve USB3 drives fine and pretty quickly. They are absolutely not going to replace a Synology, QNAP, etc

I'm concerned about ongoing development being slow and potentially overwhelming for Securifi
- you made it clear you entered unknown waters with the chosen hardware platform. This is a bit concerning itself. As you seem to have already seen, you are in the water by yourself - no help from friends that have already swam there. Unlike using a reference design as a base where there is tons of community knowledge.
- Touchscreen is unnecessary and should have never been in the product. But since it is, you will be and already are, spending cycles to support a feature that few will use, has limited use for those that will, and time could be better spent on coding more important things.


I've seen no community outreach to help design the HA parts/app
- you have spoken about how it will be great but you are so far behind on everything and we've seen nothing on the HA at all. You are not even asking for input on the workflow design, feature set, etc.  How many HA systems have you guys designed? How many have you used? What apps do you like or have inspired you? What do you think it core to making an HA system work properly, easily, and be robust and extensible? Etc, etc, etc.


Many people gush on how "great your communication is" ... though your communication is 99% = 'we ran into another problem and another delay'
... nearly nothing about what you are supposed to be delivering in functionality. 

Wifi Routers are old hat and unless you are qualcomm (you are not), nothing you build is going to be better than what already exists. If you are as good as ASUS & Netgear's best I've be happily amazed.  The only thing I'm holding on for is you have a sliver of chance to make a great HA platform BUT I've seen absolutely no evidence you have any clue how to do that - because you are not sharing anything or asking for assistance. I'd LOVE for you to prove me wrong. Really I would. 

Stop typing the same old song and start showing us you have vision, brains, anything.

I know I'm a harsh critic - you have not provide ANY reason for me not to be.  Developing products is hard. But the biggest problem I find people have is they are not wise enough to know what they don't know... and go find out before they make the product. Seems you might be in this category also.



LGNilsson

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #31 on: May 04, 2014, 07:25:47 am »
Well, you're free to ask, but considering your tone, I'm not feeling very inclined to answer your questions.

You many think that certain features don't belong, but considering you haven't used the Almond+ yet (yes, that's our fault as we haven't delivered it yet) you clearly don't have the hands on experience to make claims as to what should or shouldn't be included.

If you're not happy with where the project is going, you have the right to ask for a refund, which seems to be what you're asking for here, or am I reading it wrong? Everything you've asked appears to be complaints, so clearly we're not meeting your expectations and maybe a refund is as such the right way for you to go.

Offline AARON

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #32 on: May 04, 2014, 10:29:51 am »
Lars,
The reason I'm not happy about "where the project is going" is because you have provided zero information about the HA platform.

I have not asked for a refund because I backed this project for an HA platform ($20 routers work great, the world does not "need" another router even if it is better). AND I pray A+ can best Revolv, Vera, Smartthings, and others. Your community has zero information on the HA platform, thus no idea what you are building, your concept/ideas/etc.

We don't know...
1. Why you believe A+ has the best platform direction for HA  (concept, methodology, etc - not a hardware related question)
2. What do you like in other popular platforms you've seen?  (Homeseer, Control4, Vera, Revolv, Smarttings, ISY, Indigo, HCA, CQC, Cortexa, etc)
3. What don't you like in the popular platforms?
   - how are you addressing those problems?
4. What HA experience your team has - personally or professionally?
   - Maybe a ton? Maybe your designer worked for Crestron, Control4, or ? 

We simply have no info and thus no way to build confidence.

Build our confidence, Open the dialog... start a thread answering the above questions and starting Q&A, idea sharing, etc... if you don't this will be an answer within itself.

Offline eldaria

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #33 on: May 04, 2014, 12:14:39 pm »
Hello Aaron.

I backed the Almond+ Mainly for the HA part.
And to me just the fact that it supports multiple standards is what made me pledge.
While I agree that I wish there were more information on the HA parts, mostly how we will control the logic in a smart home, i'm patient and wait for the developers to have something ready.

But even if Securifi for some odd reason fails to deliver on the HA side, well the platform has a SDK so it will not only be Securifi's systems we will see. It will be open to anyone with some skills to create something. And since everyone have different taste there will likely be different systems. This router will be very hacker friendly, and I truly believe that we will have a bunch of the people who are longing for a replacement of Linksys WRT54G for their hacking needs, and now they get HA also.

Some of the information you request is also reserved for the Beta and Developer levels, and some of the discussions that you look for has been taken place in those parts of the forum.

But even if i'm not associated with Securifi in any other way than pledging for the developer tier on Kickstarter and helping out with the forum and the wiki I can try to answer some of your questions.

Quote from: AARON
'unique product'
- can you elaborate on what will make this device different than anything else?  I'm asking, beyond the combining of a router with an HA controller?

How many of other systems has support for ZigBee, Zwave, Wifi at the same time? And with some hacking you can even add on USB, RS232 or other systems for your HA desires. In the same device you have a quite powerful Router with a feature set and hardware specifications that goes beyond most routers in the same price range. And then also tell me how many of those devices come with an SDK and a platform that promotes you to create your own software for the device?

Quote
'very possible to replace a home NAS'
- What makes Almond+ stand out and make me want to kick my Synology to the curb?
- Many, many routers do this, at a very basic level, today or even better, so does a $20 Pogo Plug or RasberryPi. Netgear/ASUS's most recent AC routers serve USB3 drives fine and pretty quickly. They are absolutely not going to replace a Synology, QNAP, etc

Sure, there are a lot of things out there that can act as a NAS now, most somewhat modern routers have some kind of NAS functionality. Personally I will likely not be using this function as I have a full fledged home server with ZFS.
But from what I have seen the Almond+ has amazing throughput on the USB3, something I have seen complaints about in other products. But think a bit further, since the Almond+ allows for third party software, we could see new things like personal clouds, backup systems, or things I can't even think of right now.

Quote
I'm concerned about ongoing development being slow and potentially overwhelming for Securifi
- you made it clear you entered unknown waters with the chosen hardware platform. This is a bit concerning itself. As you seem to have already seen, you are in the water by yourself - no help from friends that have already swam there. Unlike using a reference design as a base where there is tons of community knowledge.
- Touchscreen is unnecessary and should have never been in the product. But since it is, you will be and already are, spending cycles to support a feature that few will use, has limited use for those that will, and time could be better spent on coding more important things.

I will leave it to Securifi to decide if they want to answer regarding the developing of the platform so I will only comment on the touchscreen.
If it is unnecessary or not is subjective, you find it unnecessary, I find it not so useful (yet) and I wished that it had been big enough to act as a picture frame. But I also understand that the cost would be much higher. But since I plan to place the router somewhat central, I might use it as a extra control for setting the home automation features.
I read that others wanted it for quickly setting the Wifi off or on, or have a weather app, etc, etc. So some do find it useful, and it is kind of a signature feature for Securifi.

Quote
I've seen no community outreach to help design the HA parts/app
- you have spoken about how it will be great but you are so far behind on everything and we've seen nothing on the HA at all. You are not even asking for input on the workflow design, feature set, etc.  How many HA systems have you guys designed? How many have you used? What apps do you like or have inspired you? What do you think it core to making an HA system work properly, easily, and be robust and extensible? Etc, etc, etc.

Again you are not a developer or a beta tester so you only see a small amount of the forum, there are sections completely dedicated to home automation, testing of sensors, development, etc.
I for my part have given plenty of input on my wishes and suggestions for Home Automation, others have tested hundreds of different sensors, and Securifi is testing internally also.
And from what I understood they have specific people assigned to just working on the HA parts.

Quote
Many people gush on how "great your communication is" ... though your communication is 99% = 'we ran into another problem and another delay'
... nearly nothing about what you are supposed to be delivering in functionality. 

Wifi Routers are old hat and unless you are qualcomm (you are not), nothing you build is going to be better than what already exists. If you are as good as ASUS & Netgear's best I've be happily amazed.  The only thing I'm holding on for is you have a sliver of chance to make a great HA platform BUT I've seen absolutely no evidence you have any clue how to do that - because you are not sharing anything or asking for assistance. I'd LOVE for you to prove me wrong. Really I would. 

Stop typing the same old song and start showing us you have vision, brains, anything.

I know I'm a harsh critic - you have not provide ANY reason for me not to be.  Developing products is hard. But the biggest problem I find people have is they are not wise enough to know what they don't know... and go find out before they make the product. Seems you might be in this category also.

This is where you dropped the ball, and the tone went down the drain, I think you are border-lining on being a troll. Too many unwarranted CAPITALS, rhetoric and false statements.
You are expecting information that you could probably have asked in the developer forum had you access to it, yes Securifi has had a few delays, but there has been plenty of other information also, and saying that 99% is about delays is just silly.

Comparing to ASUS or Netgear who have massive budgets, and huge R&D departments is also not really fair. Even though I think Almond+ will be a way better platform than anything they have produced, being small Securifi is also forced to try harder and is much more responsive to support questions. And they do not have to prove anything to anyone outside the Beta and Developers until the product is done.

I don't see what right you have to be a critic when you have not even tried and used the product, I think that is reason enough.

Securifi also has competitors, there is even a blatant ripoff copy of the design out there, so Securifi also has to be careful not to give out to much of the details on what the final product will have in terms of UI or features.

I also believe the product to become better and better long after it is released, when the community get's going.

Offline AARON

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #34 on: May 04, 2014, 12:39:20 pm »
eldaria
I appreciate you stepping up to give some information. At this point, it is more that Securifi has said - thus, key to my discontent.

While on one hand I understand some of the discussion being limited to the developer community. The complete lack of information is concerning... please understand the view from this side of the wall.
You have a vantage point not visible from where I stand since you are a developer.  I did not worry about anything until a few months ago... when I'm seeing nothing of substance for HA being posted (feature discussion, screenshots, methodology, etc) and hardware is being delayed 6+ months, it starts to make some of us think maybe there is nothing happening on the HA front. Marketing & PR 101 teaches at least leak some information and open a community dialog... there are many benefits to this. This would help Securifi more than they know, not just with me.

None the less. I'm not in the know, and I'm waiting to see if Lars & Team decides to open the curtain a bit to allow non-developers to be involved at this point. I think we deserve the respect of having input given the product is so late to market. And they might even benefit from wisdom of the masses. While I love developers, they don't always make the best designers - end users usually do.

LGNilsson

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Re: How close are we to shipment date?
« Reply #35 on: May 05, 2014, 12:01:38 am »
Just out of curiosity, do you read any of the updates we post on Kickstarter? We've posted quite a few videos showing off various features and although they haven't been super detailed, it's not as if we're trying to hide anything.

I'll freely admit that we're not home automation experts, which brings with it advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that we don't have any "baggage" i.e. no bad habits when it comes to creating a platform. We're trying to bring something to market that's easy to use and requires less prior knowledge than current solutions in the market.

I've been using a Vera Lite at home for some 9+ months by now and I've found it very frustrating to use. Yes, it has a lot of really powerful features and hundreds of add-ons, of which I've used exactly one. It has a UI that looks 15 years old at best and the mobile app is really lacking. That said, it has a place in the market for those users that want to tinker with anything and everything. We're not going to be at that point for quite some time, regardless of developer community or not.

I've also tried SmartThings, their software was terrible at launch, but it's slowly getting better. My main concern here is that they seem to be slow at adding support for devices and there's virtually no support for anything ZigBee related except the few sensors they make. Yes, they've managed to build an ok developer community and they've had third parties add support for various IP based devices. Speaking of delays, they have as yet to ship to all their Kickstarter backers...

We also have a Revolv in the office which has a terrible mobile app, more radio's than you can shake a stick at, yet barely anything is working. Oh and it only works with iOS at the moment. For $299, it's a rip-off imho.

We also have a few other devices like the Belkin Wemo, Philips Hue and what not.

However, our focus is on ZigBee and Z-Wave with the Almond+ as we believe making these standards easy to use, will really make them appeal to consumers. You rate the LCD UI, but thanks to it, it takes about 5 seconds to add a sensors, not taking into account the time it takes for the Almond+ to detect what features the sensor has, as this can vary from sensor to sensor. You can also instantly rename and add a location for your sensors as they're added and the LCD UI gives you basic control over the sensors so you can test that they work as you add them. One features that we've added in recent firmware builds is local sensor control from within the web UI of the Almond+ and the only other devices that has something similar are the Vera's. That said, if you want to use mobile apps, you have to sign up to our cloud service, but we offer both Android, iOS and again web based control support here.

The automation part is still being worked on and the plan is to get this ready as soon as possible and then get feedback from our backers so we can tweak and tune things to make it better. So far we haven't shared anything  about this, since due to various reasons, this is later than we'd hoped for and not in a share-able state, but we hope to have this ready for our beta/dev backers in a few weeks time. You'll be able to be part of the community to help push this in whatever direction our customers want it to go, within limits. I'm sure it'll have plenty flaws when we launch it and I'm sure it won't appeal to everyone, but then again, it's impossible to please everyone and that's why there are so many different solutions out there.

I'm not sure if this has helped answer any of your real concerns here, but we're in this for the long term and we know we have a lot of work in front of us once we've shipped the Almond+ to all of our backers.


 

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