The XTND Board is a lightweight and intelligent electric vehicle that redefines urban transportation.
Latest Updates from Our Project:
Into the Next Phase
3 months ago
– Fri, Feb 22, 2019 at 06:57:09 PM
Overall, the whole team is super excited about the progress we have made over the last few months. Our development team went back to China at the end of November to work in close cooperation with our manufacturing partners and suppliers of the key components. The first goal was to confirm a clear understanding of all details, requirements and goals. It was quite difficult at times, but the development moved incredibly fast when we were there.
Besides that, everything went pretty smoothly even despite a few misunderstandings. Although we had prepared an extensive Product Requirements Document with all our finished designs, ideas and concepts, nothing beats being in China and discussing the project in person. Together with our manufacturing partners, we managed to solve a lot of technical issues that we hadn’t been able to solve ourselves.
After returning from China, we continued the development in remote cooperation on a daily basis. We were often impressed with our partners who replied to our questions or made changes to the designs even when it was late at night in China. We exchanged data back and forth many times, so there were countless iterations. Many ideas that came from the manufacturer’s team showed their experience with mass production.
We moved onto the next pre-production phase called engineering validation at the end of the year. Currently, we are setting initial production processes and we tried very hard to get the first pre-production sample before the Chinese New Year. In the end, we could have had it produced before the holiday, but we knew it would not be perfect, and since the sample costs as much as a decent used car, we didn’t want to rush it. We were not happy about it, but we didn’t want to compromise the quality for the sake of our self-imposed deadline.
This holiday gave us some extra time and now that all the details are settled, we can’t wait to get our hands on it. The CAD drawings we have now are vastly different from what we had before our visit to China, but don’t worry, the board still looks the same on the outside. It is the inner structure, location of the sensors and electronic components, battery lid opening and locking mechanism, lights inside the bumpers and other stuff under the hood where the biggest progress has been made.
We changed the sensor locations in order to prevent them from being damaged during use and also to ensure good quality of the collected data, so now the software has to be modified accordingly.
We focused on the design of our pre-production electronics. Most of the time was spent on function analysis, schematic design and designing the PCB layout. These electronics have already been used to write the firmware, but this time we know what parts will be used for mass production and we made sure they still would be produced in years to follow. In the meantime, software development will continue adding the new features to the board.
However, we are not designing and manufacturing all the parts in China. We still kept the development of the ESC and brain in Europe. The main reason is that there isn’t anyone in China who would be able to match the quality of the ESC we currently have, nor any electrical or firmware engineers with whom we would be able to communicate and cooperate as smoothly as with our partners in Europe.
We are still making some minor changes to the design of individual components. During the last visit in China, we worked closely with our motor supplier on changing the design of the rear motorized wheels to meet our requirements, which turned out to be a bit more challenging than we expected. However, the supplier's engineering team is now working on the final design of an easily manufacturable and safe motor without any visible bolts.
Simultaneously, we were developing a completely new remote control in terms of refining the system used for measuring the amount of throttle so that we can make the remote as precise as possible. We also implemented the wireless charging feature, plus one surprise that we will reveal in the next update. In the past months, the remote went through many changes and it looks nothing like our original prototypes. It is better in every way and we are sure you are going to love it.
During our last visit in China, we chose a new charger supplier. We had to find another manufacturer for our charger because the original one was not able to meet our requirements regarding the quality of the components. We found a bigger company that is manufacturing every single part of the charger themselves and overall left us with a much better impression.
We provided the supplier with our magnetic charging connectors to let their engineers test them and see if they will recommend them for our use as they didn’t have any previous experience with these connectors. After testing, the connectors proved reliable and therefore we have a green light here.
All the factories were closed for 2 weeks in February because of the Chinese New Year. We had to wait until it ended, but now we are back again in close cooperation with our Chinese partners. We believe that the first pre-production sample will be ready in March as planned in the project roadmap.
As always we are very happy for your support and we are looking forward to the next update in which we're going to share our progress.
On Partnerships and More
6 months ago
– Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 07:01:13 PM
This is going to be a fairly long update, but we encourage you to go through it because all of it is important. A few things first before we get to the manufacturing news, our trip to China and other key issues.
First and foremost, we have gone quiet and we’re really sorry about that. We’ve been intensely negotiating with our manufacturing partner, which we will talk about in this update, and we had to wait for some crucial pieces of information first in order to avoid communicating something that wasn’t 100% confirmed. More on that below.
This also applies to another quite complex thing, which is the shipping fees. A lot of you have already asked about the customs and shipping fees especially for Europe with regards to our decision to move production to China. We think it’s only fair for us to bear any additional expenses caused by this so you don’t have to worry about it, and this applies worldwide for all the backers, not just for Europe.
Another thing we want to get out of the way is T-shirts. Does everyone have theirs? And more importantly, do you like them? Do they fit? We want to know! If you haven’t got yours, please check in with us. Some of them have already been returned to us due to incorrect addresses as well as some that haven’t been claimed. We’ve been in touch with most of you about that, but feel free to reach out if yours hasn’t come yet.
We have a new strategic manufacturing partner
The biggest task in the couple last months has been our trip to China and our mission to find the right strategic manufacturing partner. During our stay, we visited a number of factories that varied not only in terms of size, but also quality of production, processes and right types of partnerships. A few of the most significant factors for us have been financial stability, strong R&D background and production process management.
After 2 months and careful consideration of all the possibilities, we finally made a choice, which was about a month ago. The company we chose has vast experience with electromobility as well as our key components, including their manufacturing and assembly. Moreover, the company has a seasoned development team that is at our disposal. They have well-established basic processes not only for assembly, but also post-assembly, such as QC (Quality Control) and global shipping, which will be suitable for our purposes.
We are glad to say we get along well with the company management both on the personal and professional level. We share the same vision of smart electric vehicles and the passion for new technologies. Establishing this new strategic manufacturing partnership is a very significant company milestone that brought us yet another step closer to delivering our first batch of boards.
We have secured more key partnerships
Just as important as finding the strategic manufacturing partner has been securing suppliers for the most crucial and the most expensive components of the board.
Another key partnership we have established is with a company that will manufacture motors for our boards. The motor samples they custom made for us, which we then tested, achieved excellent results and are by far the most efficient and powerful motors we’ve had in our hands. They also meet our requirements in terms of design, which is another advantage.
The next partnership is with a company that specializes in the production of batteries and is among the leaders on the market. One of their biggest advantages is that we can use their R&D team that will help us with the final design and optimization of our battery pack, which they will then manufacture to suit our needs.
A few next steps forward
In terms of product development, we primarily focused on testing motor samples we acquired from our new supplier after coming back from China. After series of tests we are finally able to say we’re seriously happy with the results.
Based on what we learned in China, we adjusted the board’s design where we changed the rear wheels to fit the new motors as well as the trucks. We also changed the accessories, namely the batteries based on a design of the internal structure we acquired from the supplier, and a remote that was improved in terms of its visual aspects, ergonomics and less LED diodes used for communicating information. We made a model of the remote, based on which we slightly adjusted the shape of the controlling component. We also focused on details related to accessories, such as color, logo placement and texts of certifications.
Updated delivery dates
Our new manufacturing partner just sent us a timeline. It is not what we were hoping for and we are discussing potential improvements to save time, but we don’t want to underestimate it as we have done in the past and would rather count with the estimate at hand, so here it goes. It’s June next year. However, given their vast experience, we are confident that this estimate is close to accurate and that this is it, no more delays. Even if it’s not great, we’re still happy with the fast progress we’ve been making ever since we opted for China.
One of the reasons it’s pushed to June is the fact that we cannot make it before the end of January as we hoped and there will be the whole month of February that is devoted to celebrations of the Chinese New Year, which means all the manufacturing facilities are closed. We weren’t aware of this fun fact until our visit. We’re very much aware that you won’t be happy with this piece of news, but we hope that you will be able to see all the progress from this point on and be as excited as we are about it.
A few explanations and a small favor to ask you as our backers
We have a massive delay and it’s not ideal, we all are well aware of that. We cannot express how sorry we are about the fact you haven’t got your boards to ride yet. We learned that the journey from creating an innovative product to getting it into mass production is beyond any difficulty we ever imagined. But we assure you that every team member gives their 150% to get the boards to you as soon as possible.
Our board combines a lot of complex mechanical and electronic designs along with advanced software, which adds up to a seriously complicated product. An important factor adding to our delay is our lack of experience with mass production as well as, unfortunately, unknowing ideas about what phase our product was in. From the end of Kickstarter, we also had to face many serious obstacles we objectively couldn’t prevent. We went through hell and it hasn’t been easy to keep going underneath all this. Most people in our place would have already waved a white flag, issued an apology and closed shop altogether.
Most people don’t realize that a budget necessary to develop and produce a hardware product such as ours is at least $2M. The Kickstarter campaign was a condition from our investors to validate our project - it was never really about the Kickstarter money because getting the product into mass production for that amount is impossible.
As for changes on the product, it’s always slightly different to the prototype. It’s mainly because we didn’t focus primarily on manufacturability in the prototyping phase, but we later learned in the DFM phase (Design For Manufacturing) that some of the components were extremely difficult or expensive to manufacture. Every change we made, though, makes the board better in terms of functionality and safety.
A lot of people also criticized our decision to move production to China. It’s the best decision we ever made and we’re only sorry for not making it sooner. China offers vast manufacturing experience, automation and scaling of production, high quality and incredibly speeding the whole process up. Not to forget, reasonable prices.
We know a lot of people think badly of products being made in China, but the fact is China is far ahead of the rest of the world in terms of technology and manufacturing. It all comes down to what you want manufactured. If you want a premium product such as Apple, DJI or GoPro, which are all manufactured there as well, that’s what you’ll get. If you want a cheap, low-quality product to keep the price at minimum, you’ll get a cheap, low-quality product.
We spent 2 months choosing the right manufacturing partner and now we have a strong, experienced one that produces premium products, knows the ins and outs of production processes and has already been producing thousands of products each year, which means we will be able to deliver a product in high quality we promised, which wouldn’t be possible in Europe.
At the end of the day, we’d like to point out that Kickstarter is not an online store and when it comes to hardware products in particular, they are presented in their pre-production phase. We’re not the first or the last with a wildly incorrect estimated delivery date. And considering Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform, we’re all in this together, for better or worse. We just want to ask you to keep that in mind. We’re sorry about what we’ve kept seeing in the comments for a long time and we’d like to point out that all it does is make things worse, for us as well as for you. Having to constantly face not only waves of criticism, but also threats of lawsuits and even abuse is taking up a lot of our time we’d rather invest into delivering the boards sooner.
Frankly, it also demotivates the whole team, we have anxiety about what and how to communicate because it oftentimes feels like anything we do or say triggers another wave of backlash. Speaking of the team, which is fairly small due to our lack of resources, we don’t really have anyone in particular to handle the customer care area. One of our colleagues has been taking care of that, but technically it’s not her job. In any case, given the abuse from several backers that we’ve been dealing with and that we cannot share because it also involves what we find in private messages, emails and even on our personal social media, we can’t really blame anyone for not wanting to do it.
Nevertheless, over the last couple of months, we have made incredible progress and despite having a small team and a significantly smaller budget than necessary, despite the never-ending anxiety, we are happy that we keep overcoming the obstacles, which says something about our resilience and strength as a team. But we also want to say we are very grateful for any support we get and we are determined to deliver what we promised.
We are back in China and we are working hard together with the development team of our new manufacturing partner. Hopefully, we will bring more specific updates on how the production itself is going. It is likely to be after Christmas, though.
As always, we are infinitely grateful for your support. Although it hasn’t been an easy journey, we believe that together, we can make this happen. And we will.
We’ve come a long way, literally
8 months ago
– Tue, Sep 25, 2018 at 12:07:40 AM
We hope you all had a nice summer. We certainly had a busy one, which means we have thrilling news and updates to share with you. We’re sorry to have kept you waiting, but the whole team has been run off their feet more than usual, which we will get to shortly.
Manufacturing process is on the right path
Originally, as you may know, we planned on developing, manufacturing and assembling everything locally in Europe where we had our whole R&D facilities. That, however, proved unreasonably troublesome. We did all we could to stick to that plan, but we kept encountering all kinds of problems in terms of incompetence of the manufacturers, which held us back for weeks at a time. As we already mentioned a couple of times previously, it’s next to impossible to find key production component manufacturers that would meet our requirements.
Which is why we made a decision to manufacture and assemble the boards in China where we found several top-level manufacturers with whom we established strategic partnerships. It has been a huge step ahead that offered us solutions that will have a positive impact on the quality and functionality of the product. We have strong faith in our new manufacturing partners mostly because they really know what they are doing, not to mention their insane work ethic that resonates with our own. Moreover, it means that we will finally have the content we have been wanting to share with you and we can’t wait to give you updates straight from there.
In fact, the reason we have been busier than usual is that most of the XTND team has just flown there two days ago to meet with our manufacturers in person and make sure everything is running smoothly. All this is mediated by our new Head of Production, who makes sure the production process is in the most capable hands. In the next couple of weeks we will be focusing on production molds, tooling jigs and sourcing of individual components.
We made a significant progress in several key areas over the last few months. Among them was improving and finalizing all the CAD models. We got held back a bit here because some mechanical solutions weren’t working the way we wanted or proved impossible to make.
As for the sensors, the hardware part is finished and now we’re working intensely on programing the complete software stack and on debugging individual smart features. There has also been a major progress in motor regulation where we managed to tune out acceleration and braking for a truly smooth ride.
Many of you are rightly asking when the boards will be delivered and whether there will be another delay. We would like to wait to see what the trip to China unfolds first and then give you an update on that.
The prototype in the flesh
Guys, we tried. We know it’s not done in a kickass way and that you probably won’t like what we shot, but we did what we could to the best of our abilities, time and equipment so please take it easy on us. Also, don’t be alarmed. This is only the works-like prototype we use mainly for testing and it is not the final version. It won’t take long before we have nicer pre-production prototypes from China that we will be able to show you in greater detail. We nevertheless wanted to share it with you so here it is.
T-shirts are coming soon
How soon? They will be on their way at the end of this week! It took us a bit longer because we wanted to do it with an extra care that we hope you will appreciate. We also had to manage our time and budget carefully with all the preparations for the trip. Moreover, it wasn’t such a bad thing after all since it also gave you time to update and complete your addresses. In any case, we just can’t wait for you to get them in your post and to see how you like them!
Anyway, thank you all for sticking with us. We really appreciate all your support and feedback you’ve been giving us and we’re really excited to share with you what progress we’re making.
Greetings from Shenzhen!
Insight Into the Art of the Edge
10 months ago
– Mon, Aug 06, 2018 at 07:05:40 PM
Today, we would like to divert a bit from our usual updates and give this a form of a blog post, which will be the first of a series, in order to talk about what we came to take for granted but might not be as obvious to the outside eye.
We will take you behind the scenes of the XTND Board and dive into the theory of its design. The signature look of our board is one of the features that make our brand unique, but not many people realize what science lies behind every inch it of.
To say that designing an innovative product is a complex and challenging mission would be an understatement. Simply focusing on tech specs is not enough. There is an art to combining all the details that most of the time are not even perceptible into one compact unit. This unit must meet not only the functional but also the esthetical criteria in order to provide an absolutely seamless user experience.
Today, we’d like to talk about one specific detail that often goes unnoticed but is crucial for making the user experience as enjoyable as possible.
Over the course of the day, there are plenty of times we have to handle or carry the board in our hands. This quite often proves to be, plainly speaking, a pain in the neck mainly due to the absence of a handle, the not exactly space-saving measurements of most boards, bad ergonomics and even sharp edges that cut into our hands. All these things make carrying the board an awful experience.
It’s clear: designing a solution that will improve the user experience of holding the board without using a handle.
Our aim was to achieve a clean and elegant design that would complement the usefulness of the product itself. When we worked on the board’s design, we were keeping in mind the 10 principles of good design defined by a German industrial designer, Dieter Rams, at the beginning of the 80s. When we were designing all the shapes, angles and measurements, we were trying to adhere to the principle that says good design makes a product useful.
The shape of the deck was the essential step when designing the board because it is its biggest part and makes the XTND Board what it is. We went through dozens of different designs and assessed the strengths and weak spots in the user experience they offered both in terms of riding and handling.
One iteration after another, we gradually came up with the design that we know and love today. The signature feature of the XTND Board is its rounded edges that are found everywhere on the board. The benefits of this are many. For instance, the rounded edges on the side of the board make holding the board more comfortable because it prevents the edges from cutting into your hand. At the same time, it achieves the thin look of the deck.
Designing a thin deck that would hide all the electronics including the batteries inside was a great challenge, though. Even more so after we opted for the type of batteries that is significantly bigger in size.
The design of the bottom part where the deck has to be thicker because of the battery pack is done in a similar fashion without any sharp edges. The broadening of the bottom disappears smoothly, which makes it nearly invisible from most angles and it doesn’t disrupt the overall design.
The width of the board also narrows in its middle so that even an inexperienced rider intuitively knows where to put their feet. Moreover, it makes carrying the board easy even without a handle.
From the top view, the board transitions smoothly from the narrow areas at the ends of the board into the area for the rider’s feet.
However, the shape of the deck is not by far everything there is to it.
The shape of the trucks have been designed from scratch as well because regular components used on longboards didn’t meet our requirements and we had to come up with a new solution.
The shape of the trucks is also completely different to other products. They reflect the rounded and elegant design of the deck while also making it comfortable for you to carry the board in your hand. We don’t think that a mall grab is such a big transgression when it comes to electric boards after all.
What also relates to holding the board by the trucks is its length, which we adjusted so that you don’t have to drag the board on the ground while you still have the comfort and stability of a longboard. The deck is thicker in the area of the trucks, creating an elevation on both front and rear end, which prevents wheelbite and improves the board’s ability to tackle uneven terrain.
These thicker areas also contain the smart sensors that collect data about your riding. The elevation adds to the signature design elements and its sharp cut contrasts with the rounded shape. The baseplate is embedded into the deck, which underlines the elegant look of the trucks as well as the deck, achieving unity of the whole.
We hope you enjoyed this insight into the board’s design. We have a few more posts on different topics and features prepared for you, but if there is anything else that would arouse your curiosity, do let us know! In the next update, which will be a regular one, we’d like to show you the new remote as well as the latest design of the board in flesh through shots of our latest prototype.
In the meantime, many thanks for your awesome support!
Revised Design of the XTND Board
10 months ago
– Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 11:14:14 PM
You might have noticed we’ve been revising the board’s design, as we mentioned in Update #20. The design has gone through several changes since then, which has been necessary primarily due to changes of internal components. Let’s take a look at the details.
As we mentioned, one of the main reasons for the changes is the battery technology. It made a slight difference in the thickness of the board, which is a small price to pay for better and safer batteries. Moreover, the thickness is different only in the center of the board and not on the sides, which makes it nearly unnoticeable. The new battery pack also has better lifespan and increases output of the motors. And, naturally, it is easily swappable.
We’ve also considered a shorter version of the board, but we agreed it would divert too much from the product you chose to back, though quite a few of you liked it better and riding it in real life was awesome. Nevertheless, the main advantage of a shorter board is that it is more comfortable and easier to carry, but we’re pleased to say we managed this even with the original design and without a significant change in its length. A person of an average height now won’t have to drag the board on the ground when holding it by the trucks. The length of the board is 862 mm (as opposed to the original 900 mm) and the width is 237 mm at its widest point.
Moreover, we readjusted trucks to accommodate weight sensors in order to improve the quality of collecting and processing data, and several parts around the rear trucks were made a bit wider for the sake of durability. We also changed the attachment of the bumpers to make sure they won’t get damaged or detached from the board even with rougher handling.
Since our aim is to make the XTND Board as easy to maintain as possible, the two wheels with motors are now completely covered, which keeps them from getting wet and prevents the dirt from getting in, thus prolonging their lifespan. In order to match all the wheels, we adjusted the front wheels as well so now they have twice as much polyurethane, which will make riding significantly more comfortable.
Now, more testing is ahead of us. We’re putting every bit of the board through all kinds of load tests, with a primary focus on motors, to make sure everything is functional and safe. In the upcoming weeks, we will also work on stabilizing BOM (Bill of Materials) and preparing CAD documentation for the suppliers. This is an essential step for the factory pre-check DFM (Design for Manufacturing) review. It will help us specify cost estimates and manufacturing plans so that we can progress quickly, eliminate risks and save money in case we make changes after the production starts.
That’s all for the design today. How do you like the look of it? We really appreciate all the feedback on the previous design suggestion and we’d be more than happy if you could tell us what you think even this time.
Thank you for your amazing support, we really appreciate it.