We've learned so much over the past 2+ years of testing various prototypes and beta units of OaSense. With each iteration came important refinements to either functionality, cost reduction/manufacturability, or aesthetics (a topic which admittedly I'm no expert in...I wore elastic-banded pants and used a roller backpack all through high school!).
Thankfully, we're nearing the final stage of this process as we move away from our beta units (launched just prior to our Kickstarter campaign) and toward our first batch of production units. The differences between those two iterations may seem minor, but we’re hopeful that they will have a huge impact on the price, usability, and reliability of OaSense for our future customers. I'll outline the major differences below, in no particular order:
- Thanks to the tremendous feedback from you all during our Kickstarter campaign, we realized that pricing needed to be lower in order to make OaSense accessible to the masses. Although we’re never ones to sacrifice quality for price, by swapping the CNC-machined aluminum components (lower half of the shower) for injection-molded stand-ins, we can vastly reduce our COGS and in turn get retail pricing down to about $99 USD from our (discounted) Kickstarter price of $175. For those of you who wanted the aluminum bling, there may be an opportunity to purchase metal OaSense units at an additional cost in the future.
- Although the sensor functionality was already highly tuned and very adjustable in our beta model, there were a few quirks that really bugged us. Three in particular that will be fixed in production units are:
- When the OaSense runs out of battery (typically after one year of use), the shower will now automatically revert to “manual mode” and behave as any typical shower would. This means that replacing batteries will never be an emergency task – your shower will always work, one way or another!
- We wanted to make the process of toggling between “sense mode” and “manual mode” as simple as possible, and I think we’ve finally nailed it. A single push of a button will switch the shower mode and confirmation will be given with a few blinks of the built in LED status indicator. For example, a child who is too short for the “sense mode” can press the button to switch into “manual mode” and proceed to take a shower without any problems. Similarly, “manual mode” can be helpful if luddite guests come to visit or if a head cold mandates that some water be wasted in order to properly steam the sinuses.
- Improved waterproofing of electronics will improve product reliability. Our beta units worked great in general, but a couple suffered from water damage which of course is not acceptable. We got to the root cause (a wire routing path was putting too much strain on the silicone sealant) and fixed it.
We’re charging ahead to bring these changes to life and it’s our hope that the process will finally be complete by summer 2017. As always, we thank you for your patience, support, and interest in saving water with OaSense!