Indiegogo Campaign Questions:
Why is Bose testing this product and why is Bose using this approach to gather customer feedback?
Historically, like most large companies, we’ve developed and tested new products on our own. For consumer products and markets that we know well, like wireless speakers and headphones, that’s served us well for many years. However, for new-to-Bose and new-to-the-world products that we don’t know nearly as well, like Bose noise-masking sleepbuds, we think there might be a better way. We have a lot of experience dealing with noise, and we have a ton of research on how to apply that to sleep, but this is still a new space for us. So, we want to validate what we know, and find out what we don't, by inviting highly motivated lead users—from among the millions worldwide suffering from the massive problem—into our development process. We want and need your critical feedback and diverse perspective on a working prototype before we launch it to the general public. We want you to help us find any hidden flaws and enable us to better serve the unique needs of a new target customer.
Why is Bose charging customers to participate in this test?
We are participating in this test with Indiegogo through its “Enterprise” program, which enables larger companies like Bose—as well as previous partners like GE, Whirlpool, Pfizer, Mercedes Benz and Hasbro—to access Indiegogo’s vast innovation user base. We acknowledge that we don’t need the money like a typical startup does. However, quite candidly, we’re charging a discounted price for the prototype because we believe it’s the best way to find highly motivated testers. We believe that testers who pay for the prototype are likely living with a severe “noise in the bedroom” problem, they’re going to use the prototype rigorously, and they’ll provide more and better feedback to help us improve the product and user experience.
Why is Bose using Indiegogo for this test?
Once we decided to try this new approach, we explored our options for how best to quickly reach a large and diverse population of consumer “partners” to help us test our prototype. With its base of 15 million monthly user views—with most of those users having signed up because they want to be involved early in the innovation process, Indiegogo was the obvious choice.
How will Bose collect and integrate Indiegogo user feedback about the prototype into the final product?
The Indiegogo platform makes it easy to collect feedback in two ways: via comments posted directly to the campaign and via directed surveys. Our engineers (acoustics, electrical, mechanical, firmware and mobile apps), user experience designers and product marketers will pore over this customer feedback daily. They’re positively giddy about gaining such insight, and they’ll triage and prioritize this invaluable customer feedback. Some issues, like hardware flaws and software bugs, must be fixed before the final product will launch. Other issues, like experiential challenges/betterment, will be considered for improvement in the initial product. And still other issues that have major impact to, and are inconsistent with, the product vision—like music streaming—are out of scope.
Why is Bose limiting the number of units on Indiegogo?
This test is about learning. We're still in the prototype stages for this product, so we're not ready to produce significant quantities. We need to sell at least 300 units to have reasonable confidence in the results of the test. That being said, we're making a slightly larger number available to collect as much feedback as possible. With the units we're releasing, we have high confidence that we’ll be able to understand market acceptance, validate the customer experience and uncover the vast majority of any potential hardware and software flaws that the product could have. This will enable us to move confidently to production with a robust design.
How will Bose support the product prototype and for how long?
The prototype will carry our standard 1-year U.S. warranty, which includes online and phone support.
Why is the Indiegogo product only available in the United States?
We’re confident that the customer problem we’re addressing is global. However, to minimize the time to secure regulatory approvals needed to sell the prototype internationally, we’ve decided to focus for now on the U.S. We expect that the final mass-market product will be available in most or all of our traditional distribution channels worldwide.
When will the final mass-market product launch officially?
That depends on how well the prototype performs during this test, and the extent of the feedback from the Indiegogo community. We are currently targeting availability later in 2018.
Product/Technical Questions: Performance
Why does the product use noise masking rather than noise cancellation? How does noise masking differ from noise cancellation?
Sound is tiny, rapid alterations in air pressure. Noise cancellation works by adding a second sound that is out-of-phase, a mirror image, of an unwanted sound. For example, in a noise cancelling headphone, when the unwanted noise is an instantaneous peak in pressure, microphones detect this and electronics move the speaker to make more room for the air in the earcup, which lowers the pressure.
Cancellation is most effective in environments with lots of low-frequency sound (airliners, buses, etc.); in Bose Acoustic Noise Cancelling products, it’s combined with passive blocking to achieve good reduction of sound at all frequencies. However, no combination of passive and active technologies reducing sound entering your ear can make unwanted sound, particularly at voice frequencies, completely inaudible. And, when a sound is bothering you—like snoring from a bed partner keeping you awake—you want it to be inaudible. Masking can achieve this.
Masking works because of the way different sounds combine in our inner ears; if they have the right match of frequencies and one (the masking sound) is just enough louder than another (the disturbing sound), your inner ear and brain cannot detect the disturbing sound. We’ve all experienced masking; for example, at a party or restaurant that’s loud, you may see people across the room talking but you cannot make out their words because the sound filling the room completely obscures them. Cancellation creates quiet in our ear canals; masking—in the right conditions—creates quiet in our minds. One can mask unwanted sounds in the bedroom with a fan that is loud enough, but that sound can then become unpleasant on its own.
Bose noise-masking sleepbuds combine passive blocking of sleep-disturbing sounds with a choice of sounds engineered to mask what gets past the blocking by the eartips. The masking and passive blocking work together synergistically, so the masking can be listened to at a quiet level that is soothing and which fades from your attention as you drift off to sleep. You can choose the masking sound that is most pleasant and effective for you, and you set the masking level to give you just the soothing, cognitive quiet that you seek.
How is this experience better than with a bedside sound machine or earplugs?
Bedside sound machines and earplugs are currently the two best approaches to mitigating nighttime noise disturbances. However, neither are quite effective enough at blocking common nighttime noise disturbances, especially when the noise source is a snoring partner right next to your head. In addition, with earplugs, there’s an anxiety that you won’t wake up to your alarm in the morning. Bose noise-masking sleepbuds synergistically combine the underlying principles of sound machines and earplugs to give you dramatically superior noise blocking, while simultaneously giving you the confidence that you’ll still be able to wake up to your alarm in the morning.
Product/Technical Questions: Audio
Can I listen to my own music or audio books with the product?
No. Bose noise-masking sleepbuds were engineered specifically to solve the problem of unwanted noise in the bedroom. In order to achieve a form factor small enough to be comfortable for sleeping AND fit a battery that can support sound playback for an entire night, we made the conscious design decision to not stream audio constantly throughout the night. Instead, we store the sound files on each sleepbud and play them back locally, dramatically extending the audio playback time achievable in our breakthrough form factor.
What masking sounds are included? Why were those sounds selected?
We’ve included 10 pre-loaded soothing sounds with the prototype, each easily selectable via the companion Bose Sleep app. Bose engineered each audio track to maximize masking efficacy and/or facilitate relaxation. Six of these sounds are found in nature—ocean waves, waterfall, rain, stream, wind and country night. Other sounds include red noise (like white noise, but less harsh), airline cabin, dehumidifier and a “spa music”-like drone.
Can I upload my own sounds?
No. All sounds will be provided by Bose, so that we can optimize the masking and/or relaxation experience for the customer.
Product/Technical Questions: Safety
Will I be able to hear smoke alarms, a child crying, intruders, etc. while using the product?
Bose noise-masking sleepbuds are designed to mask unwanted noise and disturbances while you sleep. Because of this, they can affect your ability to hear other sounds, such as alarms, warning systems, people or pets.
To balance the levels of noise masking and awareness you want, you can set an appropriate volume level for your needs within the Bose Sleep app. The volume should be high enough to mask noises disturb your sleep, but not so high that you can’t confidently be awoken by the sounds you want to hear. If you are still concerned about your ability to hear sounds while wearing the sleepbuds, you may want to take alternative measures, such as relying on a partner, wearing only one sleepbud or scheduling the masking sound timer.
Product/Technical Questions: Battery/Charging
What if my phone battery dies overnight? Will I still hear my alarm? What if the battery on my sleepbuds dies during the night? Will my alarm still sound?
Because we believe that most users will set an alarm within the companion Bose Sleep app, we believe they’ll want to be awoken if the battery on the sleepbuds or phone gets too low during the night or the sleepbuds are disconnected from the phone for any reason, since those conditions jeopardize the ability of the alarm to sound in the morning. Therefore, the product will wake the user if any of those batteries get too low or the sleepbuds/phone are disconnected during use.
Product/Technical Questions: Other
How do I know if my smart device is compatible?
Your device (smartphone, etc) must support Bluetooth Low Energy (also called Bluetooth Smart) to work correctly with the Bose noise-masking sleepbuds. Apple devices with iOS 10 and newer are compatible, and most devices with Androids 5.0 and newer support Bluetooth Low Energy.
Will the prototype have the same performance as other Bose products that I’ve come to expect?
Yes and no. We have every intent to provide the same great experience that you have come to expect from other Bose products. However, as we are releasing the product to be available for Indiegogo testers to use much earlier in the product development process than we normally do, you should expect to find some areas for improvement, as this is the reason why we’re engaging with Indiegogo in the first place. However, rest assured that we’ll ensure your experience will be above and beyond expectations; if not, we’ll make things right.
Will there be an opportunity to upgrade to the final product?
We are fully committed to ensuring that you have fully functional Bose sleepbuds when we launch it broadly later in 2018. How we accomplish this will depend on how dramatically the product changes between the time you receive the prototype and when we release the final product – which is all based on what we learn from this test. We could learn that the hardware is solid. In that case, we could continue to provide you with software and firmware updates that would make your prototype the same as the final product. And, we’ll do that regardless, as we make improvements through your feedback. However, we could find out that we need to make hardware changes, and that’s an entirely different story. In that case, we would absolutely offer you some type of discount, trade-in or replacement option. After we ship the prototype, start receiving feedback on the experience, and get our arms around the impact to the final product, we’ll determine how to best to approach making sure you have the best product possible. We will let you know what that is through a campaign update.