Building world-class products for the price-sensitive consumer
It is an exciting time to build for the Indian consumer.
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world with multi-fold growth in consumer spend projected over the next decade. It also remains one of the youngest nations in the planet – the new Indian consumer class is richer than its predecessor and is far more aspirational making very discerning choices on where to spend each incremental rupee. Internet connectivity, the greatest leveller of our times, flows ahead of globalization. Consumers are more aware than ever of world-class performance benchmarks in their areas of interest, and don’t want to settle for anything less in what they buy. Income levels are obviously different between India and the first-world countries, and acceptable pricing for a world-class product is driven by purchasing power parity (PPP) between these regions.
Simply put, a manufacturer needs to deliver equal or better performance than the world-class benchmark while pricing the product at 30-40% of the benchmark to have a fair shot at delighting the market. This is the tightrope that one needs to walk when designing for the Indian consumer.
At BluArmor, we have evolved a 4-step approach to tread this tightrope – a process we have evolved through three generations of cooling products that we brought to the market for two-wheeler riders.
Our over-arching vision is to deliver a car-like experience to the two-wheeler rider. India is the world’s largest two-wheeler market, and the two-wheeler has lagged the four-wheeler in terms of the intelligence on offer. Features that are relatively common-place in the entry and mid-segment cars only find place in super-premium bikes. BluArmor aims to address this anomaly through affordable technologies that equip the rider with tools that enhance their experience while riding.
Our next step in this direction is delivering connectivity to the rider - connectivity is the gateway to enhancing the rider’s experience be it through fatigue reduction, vehicle awareness or environment awareness.
BluArmor is entering this space with the C30, a product that marks a paradigm shift in the helmet communications space. The rider can now connect to their smartphone, the two-wheeler, the pillion rider, and their riding group – a total-connectivity approach that translates to a super-effective gateway with the potential to continuously boost the experience for the rider.
Our modus operandi to deliver such world-beating performance at a fraction of the cost is founded on 4 equally-important pillars.
- Differentiated technology
- Zero compromise to quality
- Partner with the very best
- Frugal engineering at every step
Differentiated Technology: Arthur C. Clarke famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
We all have fond memories of a road-trip we have taken on a car with friends and/or family – the music, the banter, that experience where travel didn’t feel like commute. C30, with its advanced technology, delivers that “magical” experience for the two-wheeler!
With TWOFLOTM that maintains data sync across the different connections while audio/voice channels are active, TERRASPOTTM that uses the phone’s GPS to provide riding-specific location services, RIDEGRIDTM that allows up to 20 riders to be connected over large distances, AUDIOWEAVETM that lets riders listen to music while participating in an intercom call with other riders and a noise suppression engine that suppresses wind-noise to deliver a great intercom experience, C30 differentiates itself in the degree of innovation that it integrates.
Zero compromise to quality: There is a saying in competitive sports that defence wins championships. Quality is equivalent to playing excellent defence. A consumer product like the C30 that integrates hardware, firmware and software encounters innumerable usage scenarios based on a combination of the following:
- user-driven button actions like
- change music tracks
- invoke assistant
- accept/reject an incoming phone-call
- phone-based interrupts such as
- WhatsApp/SMS messages
- App notifications
- user-driven phone-interrupts such as opening apps
- User could open YouTube on his/her phone to play music – an action that the user might take even while on a phone call
- OS and phone-model variations
It is not hard to conclude that an automated setup is needed to exhaustively verify these different scenarios. Enter RIDETRUSTTM - BluArmor’s fully-automated verification platform that tests the products 24/7 mapping it through every possible event sequence. With such a setup, several C30 devices are tested through the gamut of event-sequences that users might experience over the life-time of the product – an exercise that generates a lot of confidence on the product we deliver to customers.
Partner with the very best: It takes a village to build a good product! We have stayed true to this adage when it comes to choosing our partners for the C30. Each of our partners can lay a strong claim to being the best at what they do. C30 offers a fantastic listening experience for the rider thanks to its “Sound by JBL”-certified audio path. JBL is a thought leader in consumer audio, and that leadership is manifested in the fantastic audio experience of the C30. The same thought-process has been applied while selecting other partners – be it the analog ICs, the microcontroller that functions as our central intelligence, or the connectivity solutions, each of these parts is supplied by the leader in that domain. Just as we did with quality, we have taken a zero-compromise solution when it comes to selecting our partners. Only the very best will do for our customers!
Frugal Engineering: If we choose the very best of everything, how do we keep the cost down? Most of us are familiar with Just in Time (JIT) manufacturing – it’s an approach where raw material orders are aligned perfectly with production schedules to minimize inventory-holding costs. In a similar manner, a key aspect of our development is Just Enough Margin (JEM) design. The design-implementation plays a critical role here as the solution is engineered to reuse the resources-at-hand based on the different states/modes (questions such as “do we need a companion processor, or can we time-share the main processor?” are oft-repeated in this phase). With an optimal design implementation, the main contributors to our Bill of Materials (BOM) are carefully evaluated for processing power and memory capacity and our choice of component is made so we have just enough performance-margin. The other key aspect of frugal engineering is reusing existing resources – for example, C30 sources all its location and speed information from the phone removing the need for a separate GPS chip. A continuous cycle of “Do we need a separate part, or can we reuse something we already have” does wonders to the cost.
The Indian consumer’s buying habits drives manufacturers like BluArmor to set audacious goals on the performance-price curve. Our experience has shown us that it’s possible to tread this tightrope through a frugal-engineering driven approach without comprising on quality or performance.
The C30 is the embodiment of this approach.