This update is going to be a little different from our previous editions and comes with an apology for not issuing one sooner. The reason for the belated update is that we were still resolving some final firmware challenges. Each week of the past month, we were hoping to provide you with some good news but, despite a lot of hard work and additional capacity, finishing the firmware took us much longer than originally anticipated. Frustratingly, everything else required for rollout and fulfillment is in place. With that said, we finally have a release candidate version of our firmware that is now going into a comprehensive testing stage. To help visualize both our progress thus far and our current status, we’ve created a comprehensive overview; it details the firmware challenge, our major accomplishments to date, and provides a closer look behind the scenes with the opportunity to meet some of the people working on your Bird Buddies.
Before you watch and read the overview, we feel it is important to provide context on the firmware (the software that runs on the device) challenges and what this means for the fulfillment timeline.
Because of the difficulties in sourcing components due to the widely reported chip shortage, we had to design the hardware so that it was able to accept different components depending on what we would actually be able to source in time for production. This meant we couldn’t really focus on integrating some of the key building blocks of firmware until quite late in the year. Once the component selection was finalized and successfully sourced, we set an aggressive target date for building out the firmware with the available chipsets.
However, as is often the case with complex product development, we ran into some unforeseen challenges that complicated an already heavy workload. We were clearly overly optimistic about the timeline and we sincerely apologize for not communicating the shifts in the timeline more diligently.
In light of these challenges, both our team and the partner we are working with brought in additional engineering resources to help drive the project to completion. Since then we have been making consistent progress on this critical part of the product.
To provide some more detail: the challenges arose during the final integration phase between our two ICs (chips) on the device, the cloud and the app. Individual firmware features had been developed, tested and working on their own earlier. However, when these features were combined, they were not all able to run smoothly at the same time due to hardware constrained resources (memory, for example). The fact that we have two ICs working together also complicated some of the integration efforts. Firmware refactoring is currently going on for all features so they can co-exist and function seamlessly.
The good news is that we’ve finally resolved all the issues with the firmware and are moving into a robust testing phase; the testing will be carried out on a statistically significant sample size of devices to rule out any obscure issues and edge cases. It’s likely we’ll make some improvements or additional fixes during this stage but we've been testing individual features throughout this process so we don’t expect any other major difficulties.
We’ll start manufacturing and shipping units to our distribution center as soon as we complete this stage which we expect to take up to a month. We will, however, take at least another month to field test and polish the end to end experience with the final production units and production firmware. With all this work and time invested so far, we simply can’t risk rushing the final stage and miss a potential trivial bug in the app, on the server or anywhere else in our infrastructure that would make for a broken Bird Buddy user experience. With that in mind and with our deepest apologies for disappointing you again, we now expect to start fulfilling our backers’ orders this spring. Likely the bulk of fulfillment is going to be happening from May on and all orders should be fulfilled by the start of summer. For more insight into the schedule and explanation of the individual pieces please check out the overview video we’ve prepared.
To accompany the overview, we have created a short video, presented by our CEO Franci, that features Žiga (leading the product team) and Kyle (leading the hardware effort) as well and provides more detail on the firmware issue and our next step.
Ultimately, we are frustrated and disappointed that we’ve not been able to fulfill the orders as intended. We do not take the impact these delays have had on you lightly; still, we are incredibly proud of the achievements we have made and we continue to work passionately in creating the world's largest bird monitoring network. This would not have been possible without your support and trust in us.
With best wishes,The Bird Buddy Team