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The Betas Are in the Wild!

Mar 26, 2020

Backers,

First off we want to start with hoping that all of our amazing supporters are healthy and safe as that is the most important thing in crazy times like this. We also wanted to bring back the GIFs from our previous updates to help lighten the mood. Don’t worry most of the news in the update is VERY positive.

It’s been a weird and strange couple of weeks for us over here at PAI headquarters since our last update. In this update, we will discuss where in the world your Doppler is, how the Beta is going, and how the Virus is affecting us. Make sure you read the entire update, we have some free stuff for you!


Read the entire update to get your free stuff!

COVID-19 and the Doppler

There is a high likelihood that wherever you are reading this from is experiencing effects from the current COVID-19 pandemic. While we have been dealing with some of its effects for a couple of months due to our close relationship with our factories in China, now that the virus has reached the US, things have changed considerably. We don’t want to spend too much time discussing unpleasant things, but we do have to share some quick updates.

On March 16th Santa Clara county announced a “Shelter in Place” order which forced everyone at the office to head to their respective houses and do their best to work from home for the safety of the community as a whole. We made sure that our team has Dopplers to work with at home and we are lucky that the Doppler is mostly in a software phase at the moment. If this had happened earlier in the development process, it would have been much more difficult to continue working efficiently.


Production run update

One of the things we aren’t able to do under this shelter in place order is ship out orders from our warehouse. This is obviously not ideal but it does lead us to some good, nay AMAZING news. After more red tape and bureaucracy than we ever thought possible, the first production Dopplers are in a container and loaded on a ship to PAI headquarters!



When we finally saw the picture of our Dopplers loaded onto the container

This process took so much longer than we had ever imagined, but thankfully your Doppler is finally onto the next step before reaching your nightstand.

Once the ship arrives into the port of Oakland (it’s currently scheduled to arrive on the 11th of April) our container will undergo customs clearance and then onto our office! We aren’t sure how the current state of affairs will affect the travel time and customs clearance process, but we have been told to prepare for delays as so much in the world is in flux.

Once these Dopplers finally arrive in our warehouse, we will need to re-flash the units and do a final quality check before sending them out to you. We don’t know if the shelter in place order will still be in effect when we receive the Dopplers, so we similarly don’t know if we will be able to get to work on them right when they arrive. Rest assured, as soon as it’s safe to resume normal work we will begin the flashing, QA and shipping process on your Doppler!


We are anxiously awaiting the “all clear” to go back to work!

Beta testing

Before the pandemic really hit us, we were able to get out quite a few Beta Dopplers to our Beta backers (Over 70 units). As discussed previously the units sent were only sent to backers with iOS devices only as the iOS app is currently in a better spot than the Android version (more on this later). Finally being able to ship some Dopplers, even just Beta units, has been an awesome feeling. Thanks to all the Beta backers who have provided feedback so far! In general, the feedback has been very positive and the Beta program has uncovered some software and app issues that we wouldn’t have found by ourselves.

Here are some pictures of the Dopplers sent to us by the Beta backers:





For the sake of transparency, we have had 2 Beta Dopplers that had major issues. The first one is on its way back to us for debugging as the unit seems to have a problem playing any sort of sound. The second unit had a bad external power brick and was an easy enough fix.

Most of the bugs that our testers have reported are around timezones, Wifi, and Bluetooth. Although thanks to our backer's help we have found some new issues as well as ways to improve our app and Alexa. The good news is that the hardware appears to be working well and everyone is happy with the look and feel of the Doppler. We are working on these software issues and when we fix them we will push new updates to both the app and the Doppler unit over the air.

We still are working on the Android app and are hoping to get something finished in the next week or two. Our app developer, Zemingo is based in New York and Tel Aviv which are both in a similar lockdown situation as we are out here in California and are working through it, but not as efficiently as anyone would like. Once we have an app that we are happy with and it’s safe to ship the remaining Beta units, we will do so.

We also wanted to thank all the Beta backers for their feedback (positive or negative) and kind words. After working on this project for a long time, hearing some of the very positive feedback has been amazing:

“I love my Doppler!”

“Auto-dimming is sick!”

“Good build quality. The heft of the unit is nice. The plastic used for the primary frame of the unit is great.”

“This is a great looking clock. The display is huge!”

“It looks beautiful.”

“I think it is great.”

“Fit and finish feels good, premium. No gaps or wonkiness in assembly, feels solid and doesn’t move on the desk/nightstand. I have an 18-month old who loves to grab the 5” echo show on my nightstand and this is exponentially more ‘stuck’ to the surface.”

“It's a great Alexa-enabled alarm clock.”


We know we have work to do, but please keep the feedback coming!

Manual is live

We have also been using our Beta backers to test out the online manual we have for the Doppler. This manual is now live at: manual.sandmandoppler.com - if anything seems unclear or you notice an error, please let us know! We also have been hard at work on a list of FAQs that are now live here these will be constantly updated when we add new features and such. As always if you have any questions or comments please feel free to send an email to us at support@paloaltoinnovation.com

Amazon certification

One more wrinkle for the Doppler is around Alexa certification. Amazon requires all devices that utilize their AVS (Alexa Voice Service) to pass strict security and quality certifications before being able to be sold.

We have already passed the acoustic testing from a third-party lab as noted in the previous update, but Amazon will need to do this testing again themselves along with some other functional testing. We also need to send a Doppler to a third-party security testing lab to make sure we pass Amazon’s strict security testing as well. The third-party testing lab is located in Taiwan and is still open and functioning normally, but the Amazon labs are located here in the States and are all shut down at the moment like we are. I’m working with our representatives at Amazon to figure out how to get the unit certified as quickly as possible, but this could cause another delay.

Free stuff?!?


Get your free stuff here!

To redeem this please go into your Backerkit and navigate to your add-ons section. In the add ons section you’ll see a free charging cable option and in there you can select what type of cable, color, or even a wireless charger!

You can look up your Backerkit link here if you backed us on our site or Indiegogo: https://doppler-igg.backerkit.com/ if you backed on Kickstarter use this link: https://sandman-doppler-the-worlds-best-alarm-clock.backerkit.com

Here is a quick video showing the process of adding an add-on in Backerkit:

If you’re having issues with Backerkit, please let us know what kind of free cable or wireless charger you’d like and we will add it to your account. The best way to get a hold of us is by sending an email to support@paloaltoinnovation.com

Hopefully, this update helped brighten your day during these difficult times. Very soon you’ll be able to share these difficult times with your Doppler!

Stay safe and healthy

-The sheltered in place PAI team

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