My Interview with the Luraco (iRobotics 6S) Engineers – Part 3

November 22, 2013
 By Dr. Alan Weidner
November 22, 2013
 By Dr. Alan Weidner

My Interview with the Luraco (iRobotics 6S) Engineers – Part 3

Transcript of Video Titled “Interview with the Luraco Engineering Team (Part 3)”

iRobotics 6S Chocolate Brown

iRobotics 6S Chocolate Brown

Dr. Alan Weidner: [From Part 2: Now, as far as, as far as the future goes, I mean, this iRobotics 6S is pretty much the chair that you’re marketing] out there. Do you have any plans for another model, are you – I mean, I know that you guys are constantly doing research and development, and are there other – and again, I understand you may not be able to tell me certain things, and I totally get that. and respect that, but are there any plans for another model, or other features, or anything like that in the future?

Kevin Le: Yes, and you know, we are very active and very aggressive in the research and development, so you know, our team, actually currently, is working on, you know, a new model, uh huh, that will be advanced, and more comprehensive features will be included, uh huh.

Alan: Great.

Kevin: So, well, sometime soon, yeah, you’ll see something, you know.

Bryce Gaston: Yeah, we’re actively developing a new chair. We do not have a release date set, but you know, it’ll be many months off. There’s still some, you know, some things we’re working on, both mechanical and software …

Alan: Right.

Bryce: But we wanted to incorporate the latest advances in the massage chair industry …

Kevin: Yeah.

Bryce: As well as set the bar a little higher for the user interface.

Kevin: Mm-hmm.

Bryce: We, you know, we want to make this very immersive as well as very easy to operate. So, it’s going to be, you know, it’s going to be very, very advanced when it hits the market.

Kevin: Yeah, mm-hmm.

Alan: Awesome.

Kevin: So, the research and development for new products, it keeps going.

Alan: Good yeah, and keep me posted, would you, I love hearing the new stuff, it’s always exciting to see what’s coming out. Some companies have a tendency to come out with models that are very, very similar to a previous model, it’s just a minor tweak or something, or a different body, and sometimes it confuses the consumer a little bit. It’s nice to have something that’s fresh, and with – you know, quite different, and with new features and something, you know, unique that makes it – that sets it apart from the previous model, so I think we all appreciate that, and we’re looking forward to see what you’ve got coming out.

Bryce: While we can’t tell you exactly what the new massage chair’s going to have, we can tell you it’s not just a tweak or a revision of a preexisting chair, this will be a completely different chair that the market has never seen.

Kevin: Mm-hmm.

Alan: Awesome. Well, I’m already excited to hear about it, so you know, and just let me know – let me know when you’ve got something for me I can share with people – let me know, and I’ll put the word out for you.

Bryce: We will do that.

Alan: I just had a thought, you know, you guys began in the massage chair industry doing salon chairs, and the salon business is a busy business. I mean, here in Salt Lake, you know, my wife goes to get her nails done, and that place is jammed packed, nonstop, and they’re all sitting on chairs …

Kevin: Mm-hmm.

Alan: And I would think, and maybe you could guide the conversation on this, but I would think that by starting in that industry, you have been able to work out a lot of issues that might – a lot of durability issues, and reliability issues – that might come to surface a lot quicker in a nail salon than they would in a person’s home, and I would think that that would work to your advantage to be able to figure out what things need to be done to make sure these chairs last a long, long time.

Bryce: Yes.

Kevin: Mm-hmm.

Bryce: We, you know, for instance, we have gotten away from direct drives on the back massage, because over time, we’ve noticed the shaft that drives the car up and down with the massage chair heads will warp, and this warping leads to noise and vibration …

Alan: Mm-hmm.

Bryce: And eventually the, you know, self destruction of the chair, so we’ve gone to belt drives, which have more play in the system, so it can take these vibrations, and these movements, without destroying the chair.

Alan: What kind of a drive was it before the belts?

Kevin: A direct.

Bryce: The traditional drive for the massage chair and salon chair industry was a direct drive, kind of like you would see in a car …

Alan: Oh, I see, OK …

Bryce: Where you have a motor connected to a shaft via gear.

Alan: And so, you’re saying the belt gives you a little bit more flexibility, a little bit more play …

Bryce: Yeah.

Alan: So it doesn’t, it may not wear out as easily?

Bryce: Yes …

Manthan Sheth: Mm-hmm.

Bryce: And I mean, that’s just one example some of the technology that we’ve taken from the salon, in to the home. We’ve also looked at, you know, the self diagnostics, which – and the modular design – which in the event there is an issue, it’s easy to replace parts, and insert new parts. That way, you do not have, you know, a mass of wires, you have easy color-coded connectors that plug in only one way, so that, you know, technicians or even customers, can easily service, you know, the massage chair, with very, you know, minimal instruction.

Alan: Right.

Bryce: We’re very devoted to a modular, easy to, you know, service design. That way, the end customer gets the, you know, the most enjoyment out of the chair, with the least amount of down time because, as we all know, everything breaks down eventually, and we want to, you know, extend the life of the chair by making it easy to service, upgrade, and maintain.

Alan: Didn’t you also recently upgrade the frames to metal?

Bryce: Yes, yes.

Alan: You showed me that, and maybe go over that just a little bit, the details of that.

Bryce: Yes, we had some, we had a plastic malformation issue that was causing some noise in some of our chairs …

Alan: Mm-hmm.

Bryce: And Kevin and Manthan were in China, and visited our vendor, fixed the issue, and you know, this will, you know, ensure that the chair moves freer, and has a longer life. It was, you know, it was a little bump in the plastic, very, very small, and almost imperceptible, but when it’s moving back and forth, it wears unevenly, and it was causing an issue, so we fixed it.

Alan: Cool.

Bryce: We’ve also, you know, been, you know, changing the lubricants inside, so it moves freer, longer, so kind of like it would on your car, the more viscous the fluid, the more, you know, the easier everything moves.

Alan: Yeah. Well, I think it’s neat to see you constantly making little improvements like that. I mean, the little things like that are imperceptible to us may be a huge deal to you guys, and if it’s a huge deal to you, someday it’s going to be a huge deal for the owner of the chair, because it will result in a break down, or whatever the problem might be. So, I think that’s pretty cool that you guys are that vigilant with taking care of the chairs, and the fact that you have as much control as you do over making those changes.

Kevin: Mm-hmm.

Manthan: Yes.

Alan: Again, when I think about, you know, I’m just – that little pick and place machine – I just cant stop thinking about that machine. I know, Manthan, I think you said that sometimes you go in there, and you just kind of watch it, because it’s, it’s like …

Manthan: Yeah, I just like watching it, it’s so mesmerizing, and …

Alan: It is, it was amazing, but you basically took this board, and with this machine, it would pick up little components that I couldn’t even see, they were so small, pick them up, and place them exactly where they were supposed to go, in the creation of this motherboard. I just thought it was unbelievable, but I thought it was neat how you guys make all that right there, right there. I mean I saw it, I saw the lead paint, I saw that lady putting on other components, and the machines, and I was pretty dang impressed, I really enjoyed that experience, and I’ll have that on the video that I took. It’s pretty, it’s just raw video, you know, it was just kind of stop and go as we went, but I think it’ll give people a really good feeling for the fact that you guys do, do a huge amount of the chair’s production, right there in Arlington in Dallas, so I think that’s fantastic.

Bryce: We actually just got another machine in yesterday, and got it calibrated, so that it automatically dispenses the paste on to the PCBs …

Alan: Well, that makes sense.

Bryce: The paste is what puts, you know, makes the little components stick to the board, and then when we bake it, it turns to kind of a silver-ish, you know, metal, and this will not only increase the speed at which we can produce the, you know, the parts, it also increases the reliability and the repeatability of the process.

Alan: Yeah.

Bryce: We’re trying to, you know, automate as much of it as we can. That way, we take some of the human element, and the human error out of the system …

Alan: Yeah.

Bryce: So that our end clients have a repeatable, and a very strong product.

Alan: Awesome, yeah, and that came through to me when I was there, that attitude, and that approach, came through loud and clear when I was there. Now …

Kevin: Man …

Alan: Oh, go ahead, Kevin.

Kevin: Manthan took a video of this new machine, maybe he can email it to you.

Manthan: I can email it to you.

Kevin: Uh huh.

Bryce: Yeah.

Alan: A video of what, the new machine?

Manthan: The new machine.

Kevin: Uh huh.

Alan: OK, yeah. Send it on over, I think that stuff’s so cool, I liked it. I hope that my video representation of it is worthy of, you know, what it is that we saw, I thought it was pretty, pretty doggone cool.

Manthan: We liked it.

Bryce: Yeah, we looked at your video, and we really liked it. We, you know, we are always happy to give tours of our facility, and we’re happy you took the time to come see us.

Alan: Well, it was great, and you guys were very, very kind and gracious, and I appreciated that, and gave me a lot of time of your day, and it was fun. Are there any topics that I haven’t asked about that you’d like to bring to our attention, anything that we haven’t covered?

Manthan: The one thing I can think about is each and every chair is tested and certified before it leaves our facility, and each chair comes with a testing report signed by one of our main technicians who assembled it. So, that way, it takes out the final level of, you know, testing, and human error, out of the context, and I think that each chair that’s been tested, kind of makes it more reliable.

Bryce: Yeah, we test and certify each one of our chairs here in our facility in the US, so that, you know, when the customer receives the chair, we have a greater, or we have a higher expectation the chair will work flawlessly for many years to come. You know, whereas, you know, another chair that may just be shipped to the US, and then distributed here, you know, it could, you know, there’s a chance it could be damaged during shipping, or it could’ve just been, you know, misassembled at the original factory.

Alan: Well, and I want to just add to that, and that is impressive, but you don’t just test it once, you guys test it, like you test the boards when they’re first made …

Manthan: Yes.

Alan: Because I remember you hooked them up to the computer, and you could see ‘Pass,’ ‘Pass,’ ‘Fail,’ ‘Fail,’ and I discussed this on my blog entry after I visited you, and then of course, there was that testing of the chair, in its entirety, and it’s an entire assembly, where it was being tested again. So, it’s not, it wasn’t just tested once, it’s been tested at least a couple of times, and that’s pretty impressive, and that’s before it leaves your warehouse, or your plant, in Texas. I think that’s, that is a great feature, Manthan, I’m glad you brought that up.

Manthan: Each chair has its own serial number, each motherboard PCB has its own serial number, so in case if there’s an issue in the field, and something fails, we can bring it back, punch in the serial number, and check all the test reports for that, and kind of determine where the issue was, and try to fix it.

Alan: And maybe find out why it happened, and what it was that caused that failure …

Manthan: Right.

Alan: If it happened between your warehouse and their home, what is it that happened that made that fail occur.

Manthan: Right, right.

Alan: Also, the – oh, what was it, I was going to have another point that I remembered from the trip, oh, the fact that you have, you put in a – in every chair, you put in a sheet that says ‘This chair was inspected by, you know, such-and-such a person.’ The analogy that came to my mind was when I get something, like from a, like if buy some clothes online or something, and I get the package, you know, I’ll open it up, and it’ll say ‘This box was lovingly packed by Mary.’

Manthan: Yes.

Alan: Or whoever, and of course, it’s not that flippant, but with you guys, you know, there’s an actual – it’s like a certification of ‘This chair was inspected by so-and-so, and it left our factory working, in good working order,’ – I think that’s kind of cool too, and there’s a level of accountability that that addresses in your company, and I like that.

Kevin: Mm-hmm.

Bryce: Yes, and as Manthan said, every single one of the reports is stored on our server for an indefinite period of time. That way, you know, if a chair ever fails, you know, we can see who tested it, pull all the test reports and figure out why it failed, or if, you know, if this is something like a systemic issue we need to address quickly.

Alan: Yeah. Well, I think, I think it’s great, so that’s pretty cool stuff. Well, you guys, thanks so much. I can’t think of anything else to ask you, I mean, we’ve been on the line here for about 45 minutes now, and I hope we’ve covered everything, and in fact, I would like to be able to do this again in the future.

Manthan: Mm-hmm.

Alan: If you have new breakthroughs, or new things that are coming out, and you want to have a chitchat about it, just let me know, and we will set one of these up, and talk some more. It was really great talking to you guys, and getting to know you last week, and I had a wonderful time there. It was just – I’m kind of a massage chair geek, I guess – I just really love the industry, I love the products, I love learning about the inside scoops, and I just had a blast over at your place, I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to post the video for everybody else to see. Again, it’s pretty raw, you know, there’s no, not much editing, except for an intro, and a little intro music, and some credits at the end, everything else I’m just leaving as is, so people can see it as we filmed it.

Manthan: Right.

Alan: Thanks for being here today, it was really great to get to know you, and thanks for making such a wonderful product.

Manthan: Oh, thank you as well.

Kevin: Thank you as well.

Bryce: Thank you very much, and we invite you to come out whenever you’d like, and like we said, once we finalize some more details of the new products coming out, we will be sure and let you know.

Alan: Let me know, and then we’ll maybe do some Indian food next time, Manthan.

Manthan: Oh, sure.

Alan: In the meantime, stay away from those copperheads, would you, I told my kids about that, and I don’t know if any of them want to move down there now. I watched a show about the javelina, there’s a show on, one of the reality shows, about these hunters, these hog hunters.

Manthan: Mm-hmm.

Alan: Oh my gosh, those things are vicious, those javelinas, I don’t how you guys do it, it’s amazing. Anyway, neither here nor there, but it was great visiting with you, and I look forward to seeing you again, or talking to you again.

All: Alright, thanks very much, you have a good day. Bye bye.

Alan: OK, you too.


Click on the following link to watch this Luraco (iRobotics) interview on our YouTube channel.

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