Transcript of Video Titled “Interview with the Luraco Engineering Team (Part 2)”
Dr. Alan Weidner: [From Part 1: I just want to speak for a moment] about the customer support. You know, when we talked about Manthan, you know, fixing the chairs and whatnot, I’ve really been impressed with the customer support. I have a customer here locally that bought the chair, and it was one of your first models, and there were a few little quirks and whatnot, and software things that needed to be done …
Alan: And you guys took really good care of him, and he’s very, very happy about it. He’s a real good guy, he loves the chair, and he understands that it’s a new model, and there might be little things that have to be, you know, little quirks that have to worked out, and you guys did a great job of taking care of him, and I really appreciate that. The fact that he could speak to an engineer about the problem, the fact that you came, Manthan, you actually came to his house, didn’t you?
Manthan Sheth: Yes.
Alan: I mean, you went to his house, Hal’s house, and fixed the chair for him …
Alan: And any subsequent concerns or questions that he had, you guys were very, very prompt to respond, and I appreciate that. As a retailer, that’s a big deal to me, because if I get a customer calling me and saying – ‘Geez, you know, I can’t get a hold of these guys, my chair is broken, and nobody’s calling me back,’ or ‘They’re giving me the runaround’ – that creates great anxiety in my soul. I’m a Type-A guy, and when I hear stuff like that I just get really uptight, I have trouble sleeping, and I lose my appetite, and I hate to lose my appetite, you guys are magnificent with that, and I do want to want to compliment you on that.
Kevin Le: Yes.
Bryce Gaston: We’re very proud of our customer support, and we actually, this week, hired on two new customer support agents. In house, we have customer support agents that speak Spanish, Vietnamese, and English. That way, we can, you know, take care of our various clients. We, you know, if the problem is more than just, you know, a simple fix, you know, they’re more than happy to transfer the customer to an engineer, and the engineer, you know, will either call them back, or take the call immediately, it just depends on what we’re doing at the time. You know, we want to work with our clients, we want to, you know, make the massage chair the best that we can, and our clients use the chair a lot more than we have time to, so if they’re – you know, if they have a concern, or a problem, or if they even have a suggestion – we’re more than willing to listen to it, and possibly incorporate the change in to future software updates – or just take care of the problem, whatever it may be. You know, I mean, sometimes the chair is installed improperly, or you know, a connection comes loose, and our customer support agents are trained to take care of that, but you know, if they’re having problems, the engineer will step in and try to, you know, fix whatever the issue is. Since we designed it here, we know intimately all the inner workings of the chair, and we can kind of think through the problem, and fix it.
Alan: What a great advantage that is, I just think that is crucial, and I think it’s wonderful because I know my customers are taken care of, and that’s – for me, that’s the bottom line, so thank you for that, now you – oh, go ahead Manthan.
Manthan: On top of that, our chairs have a self-diagnostic system, so let’s say, if the chair has problems with the keypad connection, or there’s some wire which is loose inside, or something is wrong, there’s some self-diagnostic system LED lights, which will glow up, and kind of tell the status of the chair …
Manthan: So, when people call to our technical support people, they can just check the color of the LED, which is turned on, and we can directly know the problem, and we can just directly help them.
Manthan: Rather than somebody flying there, and fixing it, they know right away what’s the problem.
Kevin: Yeah, that is one of the advanced features of the iRobotics 6S, you know, the self-diagnostic system will help with troubleshooting, and you know, make the customer support or service, much easier.
Alan: Are the diagnostics enhanced in the 6S, I don’t remember reading that as one of the feature sets, or a feature improvement, but have you improved the diagnostics on that chair?
Bryce: We have. We included more sensors on to the motherboard that measure things like current, and voltage, that the original did not have, so that the chair will, you know, if something’s connected improperly, or if the motor’s jammed, it will shut that motor down, and then indicate it via the LEDs.
Alan: Wow, that …
Alan: Yeah, I didn’t know that.
Bryce: So, that way, you know, if something’s jammed, there’s less of a chance of burning the motor or stripping the gears.
Manthan: Because that might be hurting someone, so …
Bryce: Oh yes, and you know, so it, you know, shuts it down …
Bryce: And then lets you know the issue.
Bryce: We took this from our salon massage chairs, where these are used …
Bryce: You know, day in, day out, for hours on end, and it’s easier, you know, for the nail technicians, or salon owners, to look at the LEDs and call and say ‘Hey, this is my problem.’ Our customer support will, you know, can you know, mail them new control boxes, or keypads, or whatever. That way, it fixes the problem very, very easily …
Bryce: And there’s less time spent trying to diagnose a problem, and more time using the chair.
Kevin: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Kevin: Yeah, so as you know, you know, here in the US, all you know, all products and development, always you have to consider, you know, safety always comes first.
Alan: Yeah, yeah, oh yeah, you better in this environment or they’ll nail you for something.
Kevin: Right, well, that’s why we have, you know, more sensors to detect motor load, and you know, a locking kind of thing to prevent anything, you know, anything that, you know, related to stopping the entire system.
Alan: Yeah, yeah, very important.
Kevin: That’s why, you know, when we develop these massage chairs, you know, we always consider the UL standards, you know …
Alan: Yeah, talk a little bit about that. I mean, I know that was a big deal for you guys to have UL certification, just – it was fairly recent, I talked about it on my blog, but you explained it to me as far as the differences from the other types of certification – can you go in to a little detailed discussion about the importance of UL certification and what it means?
Kevin: Well, you know, UL, here in the US, UL is a safety, you know, agency. They write standards, you know, for all the other labs, you know, to use, you know. Many local, you know, government inspectors, you know, they require a UL-marking on the product before, you know, it can used for, you know, a commercial application. For example, a nail salon, you know, if the chair doesn’t have UL, then the government, the local government inspector, they will not allow the, you know, salon to use the chair, you know, and you know, it’s very, very difficult to obtain a UL certification. For example, the massage chairs, they use the UL standard that’s got, you know, 700 pages of standards, 700 pages of standards. You have to review it, and you have to work with a UL engineer, you know, to make sure that the, you know, the chair, you know, that it complies with the safety standards, mm-hmm.
Kevin: Mm-hmm, yeah, and you know, to get a safety, a UL safety listing, we have to work – for example, the whole massage chair, had to revise five, six – you know, we worked with UL for about a year, you know, to get it done.
Alan: Well, I think we had talked about some of the other certifications out there. They’re more or less just ‘Hey, just pay the money, and we’ll give you this certification.’ It’s more like just filling out a form, but this UL – which sounds a little bit more like a money grub – but for guys, this UL certification’s a big deal, this is official, this is not something you can buy, this is something you have to actually, you know, earn.
Bryce: Yes, there are certifications out there that are self-certifications that, you know, while it looks good on the product marking, it doesn’t actually mean anything, we – and then there’s other certification organizations – although they use some of the UL standards, they do not require compliance in all the standards. There’s a reason that UL standards are universally taken, and accepted, by all other certification organizations, whereas, UL does not accept certifications from other agencies.
Bryce: So, once you obtain a UL certification, it’s copy and paste essentially, in to a, you know, another certification organization …
Bryce: And that’s the reason we – we went for the toughest certification, because in our spa and our bath industry, UL is the only certification organization that is accepted, and you know, we – we comply with quarterly on-site inspections, surprise inspections, and you know, sending all of our new products out to UL at great expense, you know, for ourselves, to have them certified, tested, and hopefully approved. You know, just because you pay the money, and you send the products, does not mean the product will be approved.
Bryce: You know, in most cases, it requires two or three revisions to fix minor things that, you know, that UL requires, and bring them in to compliance, you know, because as Kevin was saying, there’s 700 pages of standards, so to get it right the first time is very, very difficult. So, we work with UL, back and forth, to get, you know, everything up to code, and everything in compliance.
Alan: And that’s why it took a year?
Bryce: Yes, sir.
Alan: So detailed, and so, so much work that goes in to it.
Alan: Well, I think that’s a pretty cool thing, and you know, it just, again – it lends credibility to your chair, and to your technology, and to the things that you’re claiming, I think it’s – I think it’s a great thing to have. Now, speaking of technology, this new, the 6S has these upgrades, and of course, we just talked briefly about the diagnostic changes that you’ve put in to the software, but also, the Bluetooth – and I also might mention that you have Spanish, Vietnamese, and English tech support, well, you also have Spanish, Vietnamese, and English voice guidance – languages in the voice guidance system on the chair, which is cool, I’ve not seen that before, but I think that’s an interesting feature to have. Maybe talk a little bit about the Bluetooth technology, you know, this is becoming all the rage now, and you guys are kind of right there at the forefront of it.
Bryce: Yes we, you know, being heavily involved in cutting-edge technologies, we like to incorporate the newest, and you know, most dynamic controls we can, and right now the, you know, Bluetooth seems to be a universal control, so therefore we wanted to take advantage of this technology to better immerse our clients in the massage chair experience. We chose to go with the Bluetooth, especially on the Android operating system, because it allows for more open control, and more easy adoption for our customers. We have, you know, made this, you know, made the Bluetooth application, you know, compatible with almost every Android phone there is back to, I believe – the oldest we’ve tested is Android 2.0, and we’ve tested all the way up to Android 4.2, we have – you know, we do know there are one or two models that do not work with our software and that’s due to security issues on the phone, but the majority of it is just to provide a better user experience, and also upgraded features.
Bryce: Once the Bluetooth is connected, you have better control over the massage chair experience, and particularly, you can split the air and roller intensities.
Alan: Yeah, and that was something I thought needed to be done, I’m glad you did that.
Bryce: Yes sir, you know, that came directly from your input. We wanted to incorporate that in to the actual keypad, but we were limited on space and the number of buttons, but with the Bluetooth, we can dynamically, you know, add controls, and change the look and feel, you know, as I was saying, with an over the air update. This kind of feeds in to what we were talking about, we’d like to eventually be able to, you know, update the whole massage chair over the air, but we’re working on that.
Bryce: In addition to the upgraded, you know, intensity levels, we’re also giving the ability to adjust the massage chair time. So, if you do not have time for a full 20 or 30 minute massage, you can set it for a 5 minute massage or any massage chair time between a minute and 30 minutes, with a 1-minute granularity, so that the user can better customize their massage chair experience to fit their, you know, their schedule.
Alan: I don’t want this point to be missed, what you’re saying is that you can create – a user can use it for 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, they can – with 1 minute increments, you can adjust the time on the chair. It’s not just 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 minutes, and I think that’s kind of cool, I’m not sure we’ve seen that before, so another interesting feature for the chair.
Bryce: Yes, and once the time is set, the chair will remember that preference until it’s physically reset.
Alan: Oh, I see.
Bryce: Another interesting feature is, if your phone, you know, you can use both your phone and the physical keypad at the exact same time, and they will echo what the other one is, you know, displaying, so that in the event your phone goes, you know, loses power or you need to take a call, you can still use your, you know, traditional keypad, without any interference or any problems.
Alan: Well, that’s great.
Bryce: The two are always working in conjunction, and this is because from the beginning we decided that we wanted to, you know, support multiple device controls, and this is just an extension of that.
Alan: Right. OK, I think that’s great, and I think we chitchatted a little bit about what the future of this is going to be with these chairs. I think everything – everybody does everything on their cell phone – I mean, they browse on the Internet, they of course, they calendar events, they phone, they text, everything is done on a cell phone now. So, I can see where we move away from the bulky remote with the long wire that you’ve got to plug in somewhere. It just, when you think about it, it seems rather archaic to have a remote like that, and I could see a day where there won’t be remotes like that anymore. It’ll all be done via Bluetooth …
Alan: Or whatever other connectivity brainstorm someone’ll come up with between now and then, but that is, I think that is the future of the function.
Bryce: Yes, and with our Bluetooth dongle, the user can even completely remove the keypad with no ill effects seen on the chair.
Bryce: So, you know, the Bluetooth connectivity can be turned on at any time during the massage.
Bryce: So, there’s no downtime for the client. We also give the ability to control multiple massage chairs with a single phone. This is great for our clients who, you know, have either multiple massage chairs, or even, you know, have them in a showroom, or even in a, you know, an office of some sort …
Bryce: Where there would be multiple massage chairs, and this provides an interference-free method of controlling them.
Alan: Yeah, I think that’s a great idea, again, nothing, something I’ve never heard of before, I think it’s a great idea. Now as far as, as far as the future goes, I mean, this 6S is pretty much the chair that you’re marketing.
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