The Light Phone Blog is a curated overview of our design process and progress as we bring Light to life. The Light Phone is a slim, credit card-sized cell phone that is designed to be used as little as possible. It is your phone away from phone.

               Cell phones are great, but we only know one side of the story.   We know about the new models that come out every year, we know about their features, the apps, the millions of things we can get lost in our phone doing. But when it comes to the production, manufacturing processes are generally kept under wraps for obvious reasons. We are consumers and if we knew more about the other side of the story we might choose to consume less.   With the Light Phone we don't just want to make a phone that helps you take a break. We also want to show you how this piece of technology is made. What does the manufacturing process look like? How many people are involved? What's their story? Why do we make the decisions we make as a company? We believe that if everyone has a better understanding of how technology is made, and what the true costs are, we might make better decisions regarding our consumption.                       



                       Two questions we were frequently asked throughout the campaign were "Why does it cost so much for just a phone?" and "Is it going to be fair trade?" This has taught us that there is a huge disconnect between our perception and the reality of manufacturing. To bring a piece of technology like a phone to life, there are tens of thousands of people involved around the world. It is an enormous undertaking to say the least. There is no way a phone should ever cost $10 as people have suggested to us. Alternatively, as a team of two it would be impossible for us to completely change the whole supply chain and guarantee a fair trade phone within a year, or even a few years, as nice as that sounds to us.   We think we can add value to this conversation by showing the true nature of the manufacturing process at our scale. We want to provide consumers with an understanding of what is involved in bringing new models to market every year at such an impossibly competitive price. To manufacture a ‘fair trade’ smart phone would mean that we as consumers would need to be willing to pay what we can only imagine would cost more than a house for a smart phone. We believe by making this information available we might have a deeper appreciation for the technology we already have, and begin to think twice as we continue to consume more so quickly.                             



                           Prior to Kickstarter         We engaged with a few Chinese manufacturers very early on. There are many manufacturing companies in Asia that are capable of producing mobile products but the process of finding ‘the one’ is not so easy, especially for a team of two people.   In fact, it became apparent that this may be the first time that two individuals have set out to bring a phone to market. We could sense right away there was a lot of hesitation and doubt from manufacturers, and this makes sense. For a factory to work with us, they are essentially "investing" their resources in our product. There is a huge opportunity cost in working on any product, and start ups (or "makers" as they are referred to in China) are seen as a risk because they don't have the same proven demand as more traditional corporations who are working on products within established markets. Since we were working on opening a new market with a new product, we knew we needed to prove demand to our potential manufacturing partners.   Our goal was to partner up with a manufacturer who has experience with sourcing, assembling, testing and distributing mobile devices to markets overseas. It was extremely helpful to get feedback at such an early stage directly from manufacturers who were able to tell us what was feasible at a high level. We knew this would need to be a long-term relationship and it that would be crucial to meet in person to find the right fit for Light.                            












                        Trip to China to Meet Partners         The Chinese market for mobile devices is booming. South China, specifically ShenZhen, is currently the place to be if you want to make a hardware product. The supply chain for electronic devices is very mature. You can basically find everything you need in a matter of days. Through our networks and advisors we were able to put together a list of phone manufacturers in the region and then flew over to meet in person.   Although we received interest from manufacturers during our Kickstarter campaign, before landing in China we were worried that the factories might not understand the ideas behind our product enough to support us over the long-term.   Over three weeks we spoke with over a dozen companies. To our surprise, almost everyone was intrigued by the Light Phone, and understood its premise. They fully resonated with the idea of feeling overly connected. There were signs painted on the ground all over Hong Kong asking pedestrians to look up from their phones because it had become such a safety hazard. One friend we met during a meeting told us that his life was becoming ruined by emails and text messages and he could see using the Light Phone as a way to help him get some of his family life back. He told us he "needed it now!" It was unreal to see how widespread this problem had become.                               






                              Some of the manufacturers we spoke with wanted to partner up but didn’t have the specific experience in making mobile phones that we were looking for. Many companies had to say no just because our idea was not aligned closely enough with their current roadmap for them to allocate the resources we needed. One of the executives at a factory actually sent us a personal message to express his appreciation of the Light Phone after his company ultimately decided they would not be able to partner with us.                            


















                        Taiwan    We flew to Taiwan to meet with a team from Foxconn. We met with them every day for a full week. We felt that this team actually believed in the mission we are trying to accomplish. They have factories located in both Taiwan and China.    We started immediately, and have been working with their team around the clock on a daily basis to evaluate our design and ensure that our phone is built to meet international requirements for both carrier and government regulations. These are the same evaluations we've asked of all our potential partners. They have been able to troubleshoot potential hurdles that other manufacturers were not. We look forward to working with this team over the next couple of months. The project has picked up serious momentum.                                 















                         The Light Phone Timeline Update    The phones will still ship June 2016 as originally planned. Below is a modified version of our production milestones based on the new software and hardware development. We are planning to have our first prototype ready by end of November and our second prototypes ready by February of next year. We are expecting to have much more frequent updates now that everything is moving full speed.        



        We've been working on overcoming challenges we've had with finding the best display, the proper battery, and making sure the phone passes all regulations internationally. Like any manufacturing project, there are of course things we could not have predicted ahead of time, and we will be sharing our challenges and resolutions for these specific aspects of the phone in the coming weeks. Overall we are very optimistic.   We look forward to shipping your Light Phones this coming June.           
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     We are excited to share some big news around the software behind the Light Phone. The phone itself is quite simple, but the cloud software that we've acquired to support the phone is where the innovative technology exists.    We found a great team from Seattle that have built an impressive platform that is perfect for the Light App. After getting to really know each other, we've decided to join forces. Light has acquired their patent pending I.P. and brought the founders, John Wantz and Kyle Schei on board the Light team to help us deliver the best possible product experience for the Light Phone.                          

				  FORWARDING Never miss an important call  



				  SMART LIMITS Limit who can reach you  


                                        This cloud software is going to be the "brains" behind the Light Phone. It will make using a Light Phone in conjunction with your other phone seamless.   Built in partnership with AT&T, the software is enterprise tested. It will allow for Light to scale it's software needs globally. The Light App will be able to work across operating systems.   Here are some high level animations that explain how the app, cloud, and phone work together:                    



              Typically, when you get a phone call from your mom, it goes to the carrier's tower, which then recognizes the number and sends the call to your phone.                     



              Control your settings through the Light App. Things like who gets forwarded to your Light Phone, your 10 Speed dials, or maybe even tweet to the world that you're taking a break. Those settings sync with the Light Cloud from your smartphone.                     



              Turn on call forwarding, telling the carrier's tower to forward any calls to the Light Cloud, and grab your Light Phone. A deep breath, you are free.                    



              As you can see, when mom calls, the tower forwards the call to the Light Cloud. It's processed according to your settings and if approved it will get forwarded to your Light Phone. In addition to just allowing the call to forward, we can do cool things like a Light ringback tone for the callers.                          



              You can choose who to let through to your Light Phone. When someone calls and they don't have access to reach you, say maybe your boss, the cloud will recognize this and allow them to leave a message for you on your smart phone. You will see these notifications when you return to your phone.                       



              Outgoing calls also go through the cloud so that the Light Phone always uses your existing number.              



              When someone receives a call from your Light Phone it will show on their caller ID automatically as your current number.                       



     Our first trip to Seattle in late June                  This is just the beginning. We are really excited to be working with John and Kyle. This is going to save us a huge amount of time in trying to develop the software from scratch, as we originally planned. They have great insights around the telecommunications space and will be helping make sure we can successfully deliver on time. These features are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of functions we can add to the Light Phone. We will be sharing more of these, as well as the design process (User Interface) for the Light App as we work on that together over the next few months.    The proven support of our Kickstarter backers and on going pre-orders helped make this acquisition possible by giving confidence to future partners. Thank you once again for believing in us.                               
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                                   The Kickstarter campaign went better than we ever could have imagined. We received a positive response from such a diverse group of backers, and learned so much from just putting it out into the world. We have supporters from 71 different countries, and those are just the addresses we know.      The first round of rewards were the shirts and prints, available only to our campaign backers. There was a total of 1,650 shirts printed and the print is edition of 100.                    



























     Thanks to Adam at A2A for the prints           
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      making our campaign video           









      letterpressed cards by the excellent Mama's Sauce           



      snail mail        



























      newsprints for the neighborhood           









      We introduced a stretch goal: the Light Phone in Night.           



                The Kickstarter campaign was successfully funded with over double our goal. The entire experience was unbelievable and we cannot wait to ship everyone their phones.           



        At the end of the campaign we threw an event in Brooklyn. Livestream kindly offered us their space to share a presentation and following that we moved across the street for a rooftop party at Sugarlift. The gallery showed some of Joe's stuff, including four new photographs released for the event. Music vibes by Ocean Light Zone and booze compliments of Other Half.                     
























                 Thank you to everyone who shared this special night with us!                   



              We cannot believe the response we have received to our Kickstarter. There have been backers from all around the world and the press is sharing our ideas internationally. We highlighted some of our favorite on our press page.                  
	 visit our press page 
         A very special thank you to all of our backers!           
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                          We have stripped away everything but the phone itself, the only essential connection the user needs. These are the prototypes we've been exploring with our extremely limited resources.                      



















































               These design prototypes are just various 3d prints and molds of the phone. They're solid blocks with holes and buttons so that we could experiment with shapes, placement, and paints. We wanted to live with the object and bring it with us everywhere.                    






























               Our first raw, but functional prototypes of the Light Phone. We were limited to standard parts, so these prototypes don't have a consistent lighting or dot matrix screen. They are fixed on 2:22 pm, and the software is on the phone itself is not yet developed. They do however make phone calls! These rough prototypes are about 8mm thick, twice as thick as the Light Phone will be.                             
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                  We are not inventing new technology. We’re simplifying existing tech and giving it a new story. We wanted to encourage people to disconnect by giving them a conscious choice to do so. The phone as an object makes that experience special in a way that an app never could.                               









                          We didn't want to make the user feel guilty or bad about using a smart phone, but rather to celebrate those beautiful moments in life where you don't need a smart phone, the times that are actually better with out one. These moments are best when you're fully present. The imagery we use is just that; it's us chasing those tiny sensations of awe that are the world around us.   The feeling of appreciating the world and people around you.         



     We collaborated with Small Stuff Studio on our logo mark                             






                         Connectivity is addicting, we realize this. To truly find a balance will require new addictions so to speak, activities that bring out genuine passion. It can be anything, as long as it gets you excited. We are not trying to tell you what to do with your time, we are just providing a tool; a blank canvas; an invitation to take a break. Disconnecting is step one, but what you do next, well that's the exciting part.                                                     We've had the pleasure of working with our amazing friends on pretty much everything and it has been a wonderful experience. We had no budget for this short video. It was a long winter in NYC so Joe flew out to LA and spent the weekend crashing on couches and running around shooting with friends. Back in NYC we continued going out with friends as Spring started blooming. It was a great excuse to spend a few days exploring together and we couldn't have made the video with out their help.        



     The music is an instrumental version of our friend Gabriel Garzón Montano's song "Naeja".         
	 More of Gabe's Music 

























































                            In general, every step of the way we've been fortunate enough to have their help, and we think working with friends is an important part of the process.  A special thanks to those that have collaborated with us. Giovanna Stallings-Blanche, Austin Kearns, Santiago Carrasquilla, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Drew Wolke, Howard Lee, Jordan Merz, Phil and little Grace Ladjanski, Frank Wang, Graham Hiemstra, Sebit Min, Malia Schaarf, Joe Marianek & Dinah Fried.                          

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               We learned from our testing that the phone needed to be as invisible as possible. The value proposition we discovered was in disconnecting from your smartphone, not in our phone itself. We asked ourselves, "what is it that we carry around with us everyday?"                         



               We all carry credit cards and I.D.s. If the phone is the size of a credit card there will always be somewhere for us to put it without it feeling too much like an additional accessory, whether that is a wallet, purse or a pocket. The size also feels really great to hold in your hands.                    



               We went over to Canal Plastics and had them cut us out a few cards. These were basically white plastic blocks. We were able to live with the shapes and give some to our friends as well.                    



               We ended up falling in love with these blank plastic shapes. It was literally nothing, but it felt so good, there was something about the blank white that was so nice. How we could incorporate that into the design of the phone?                     



               So we took a photo and brought it to photoshop. What if it lit up through the blank casing? We surprised ourselves with how real it looked, it was like a magical little moment. Conceptually it made a lot of sense too. If this device is trying to get us away from our screens, then the fact that it doesn't have a screen and would be blank most of the time is perfect.                    



               It also made a lot of sense from a hardware perspective. The LED lights would be efficient and the touch sensor would allow us to make the phone as thin as we wanted.                             



               The Light Phone is a stand alone GSM cell phone. The reason that we made it a separate phone is that unlike say a Bluetooth headset you will not be limited to any range from your smart phone. Call forwarding will work as long as you have cell service. The Light Phone will also continue to work if your smart phone dies, making it a great back up to bring with you everyday.                             



               We stripped the interface down to it's core essentials. There are no menus to get lost in, you can only check the time or place a call. There is no contact book, we've limited you to 10 speed dials which can be accessed via the keypad #s. We also do not show notifications, so you will not know that you have a missed call or message until you return to your smart phone. We have become so used to checking our phones as a nervous habit and Light wants to help you break that. There will never be anything for you to check with the Light Phone. It is about being present; to finally stop thinking about what might be happening on your phone.                             


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                        Why is it that we don't disconnect?  The answer is simple: the internet lives in our phones.              



                       This wasn't always the case. Looking back to AIM, we used to have 'away' messages and we used to sign off. It didn't follow us. We're now capable of bringing the internet everywhere, because of the fact that it lives in our phone. And it wouldn't make sense to go out without a phone.   Our smart phones are computers that can make phone calls, but you don't always need a computer.                                  



               It's a hole. Answering a simple message leads to 20 minutes of scrolling; almost unconsciously. We knew that the solution had to involve leaving the smart phone completely.                       



                                   This is a sketch of our original concept. The idea was that your smart phone would become a "smart answering machine". It stays at home and forwards only the most important phone calls. All of the other notifications would stay at home waiting for you to return. The solution was a phone away from phone.                                  



               We wanted to test our hypothesis: that people would enjoy disconnecting from their smart phones, as quickly as possible.  We used flip phones and simple call forwarding to simulate how we imagined the experience working. Once we made an "ON" and "OFF" contact on the user's smart phone, calling "ON" would turn on call forwarding. We also gave the users a hand written list of their speed dials. This wasn't the ideal solution, but it was the quickest way to test our key feature.         



        During our testing we noticed a few key insights. For one, most users only used 3 or 4 of their speed dial contacts. Almost all users described an initial sense of anxiety, the act of not having their smart phone on them affected them more than they imagined it would. There were many phrases used to describe this, from "phone separation anxiety" to "F.O.M.O." to "feeling an air about myself, I felt physically different". This feeling, though uncomfortable, always managed to turn into a huge relief.                          Another interesting thing we noticed was that no one used the flip phone. What that told us was that the value lied not in the object itself, but rather in the lack of smart phone, the act of disconnecting. We would take this learning and apply it to how we went about designing the phone, constantly editing and simplifying to the most core essential features. Ultimately we designed a phone that was meant to be used as little as possible.                    



       </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"                                Marty Cooper, the man who invented the first cell phone in 1973, has been a huge inspiration to us as well. We came across this video while exploring the Light Phone and it really got us excited. The cell phone had brought up a very genius idea, the idea that for the first time ever a phone number would represent a person, and not a place like an office or home. It was a very human centered idea. It's obvious that the smart phone has completely drifted away from the value proposition of a cell phone and we were excited to bring some of that humanity back into the world of technology.                          
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                           30 Weeks was a huge dive into the world of tech startups. Through the program we were becoming very aware of what products were being built and where things were headed. We also were meeting with founders and investors and learning on a deeper level how and why these changes were occurring.           



        We would have discussions about the Apple Watch and all of these new products and apps that were coming out with the claim that they would 'give us back our time,' and 'give us back our lives.'              



        We just couldn't believe any of it. These products didn't respect the user or their time. Being more connected couldn't actually be what we needed to become happier.                    



                       We quickly realized that the last thing we thought the world needed was another app.  If we spent our days always connected, always staring at screens, well, then that would be how we spent the rest of our lives.                          



                       There are countless articles, viral videos, essays, and memes about our "over connected lives." It was a bit mind-blowing to see how much coverage the problem was actually receiving. It was a bigger problem than we had even imagined. Sherry Turkle has been studying the connection between people and computers for many years now out of MIT, and has written some seriously eye-opening books.  Alone Together  is great, she is truly an expert.                                  </iframe>" data-provider-name=""                            "They don't only change what we do, they change who we are." Sherry goes on to explain how our little devices are having serious psychological effects on us, affecting both our relationships with others as well as our relationships with ourselves.        



        Humans have always understood the importance of staying in the moment. The internet is not the only cause of the problem, but what scared us is how quickly we've gotten to where we are today. We were sold on all of the benefits of new tech - being able to FaceTime with family is amazing- but that is only the tip of how we actually use our devices.                         



                       The problems with our tech-life balance have spread across the board. From the side effects of radiation and ruining our neck and eyes, to changes in etiquette and socialization. Tungsten light from our screens is preventing our nervous systems from allowing us to properly rest. Looking in each other's eyes makes us uncomfortable. Reaching for our phones has become a nervous habit. We'll say we don't have enough time to do the things we aspire to, but yet can spend hours a day scrolling.           



        'Retention' is a metric that startups love to use. It analyzes how many hours each user spends on an app each day. The reason this is so important is because many of these products have an advertising based revenue model. We're seeing products built because people will use them, but not because people need them. This is not a human centered approach to building or designing products.        



     James Cooper was one of our resident advisors in the incubator, he comes from Betaworks. He shared this great piece that he wrote with us.       
	 I don't want a bigger phone. I want a smaller phone. 
            Some other articles we were reading:        



	 Navigating stuckness  
      by Jonathan Harris        



	 Why I just Asked My students to put their laptops away 
      by Clay Shirky        



	 If Design's No Longer the differentiator, what is? 
      by John Maeda        
	 How Google changed your brain 
      by Daniel M. Wegner and Adrian F. Ward         
	 Small Change 
      by Malcom Gladwell        
	 Unplugging without FOMO 
      by Laura M. Holson        
	 Want to be happier? Stay in the moment. 
      by Matt Killingsworth                           
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               Google and Hyper Island launched the inaugural 30 Weeks incubator in September 2014. The program was an experiment aimed at transforming designers into technology founders through mentorship and guidance from their network of design, tech, business and venture capital friends.                    



                    There were 17 designers from different design backgrounds. Everyone had dropped everything and began working out of a studio space in downtown Manhattan. It was here that we met and began building the Light Phone.                    



                        desk away from desk                     



                            Joe comes from a design background; he likes to make things and play with cameras. Kaiwei has a product design and development background, and has been working on cell phones for 10 years.                                           





















                                          Joe presenting Light at Google, NYC                "When I joined 30 Weeks I wasn't sure what it was that I wanted to build, but I quickly realized the last thing I thought the world needed was another app."                     



     An interview that Kai did with I.I.T.                "I was tired of building products that I had no passion for...Most of them were driven by technology and didn’t solve any problem because they weren’t designed for users. Then I heard about human-centered design and I knew that was exactly what I needed. It’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life."       Thank you to Robert Wong and the 30 Weeks staff for making this possible. Cheers to all of the awesome friends we shared the experience with and to the incredibly inspiring guests that came and shared their time with us.                             
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