Getting to test our devices
As the next stage of testing is approaching we are looking for avid testers on foil and épée. You can take part in 2 main ways: by signing up or by preordering. (For more info, see at the bottom).
How is the testing planned?
Due to COVID there are still many uncertainties around development: First, most of the fencing venues are forced to be closed so it’s hard to test in real-life conditions. Second packages are very often delayed, for some parts we needed to wait nearly 2 months to arrive. Moreover shortages occur much more often and sometimes even basic parts can be missing. Third, in case someone in the family or friends got symptoms associated with the virus we also need to take measures. And it is not really an option to do hardware development remotely.
These factors make planning significantly more complicated. However we do as much as possible to keep the development on track. So we a more detailed addition (below) to the public roadmap leading to product release. For understanding the roadmap let's get some background knowledge on testing stages. We can split testing into 2 major parts: alpha and beta-testing.
We test mostly in-house. It usually goes like this: we build something, get into fencing gear, try it out, fail miserably then start over. The goal is to get a proof of concept. We get through a wide range of ideas and possible features. (We have a small desk dedicated to our trials what we call the Calibur museum. In a future post we will get through some of them.) When we do this part enough times and start to feel the need to share the experience we go out to local fencing venues. This phase is the
We can also split it into 2 steps: narrow and broad beta-testing. In narrow beta-testing we get to local venues and test some specific part of the device, like connection or certain types of situations during bouts. We have 2 goals while doing this: get the concept accurate and stable enough. As soon as we cross the threshold we set up we can start broad beta-testing. In this phase we send out devices to all our partners to use them as they would during normal fencing. The goal is to have broad usage feedback and to collect data.
As you can imagine the broad testing is the most resource hungry part of the testing and since there are 3 disciplines in fencing we would need to do it 3 times.
Good thing that we set up a model that takes much of that burden off of this phase. Since the product will constantly adapt to the data it gets, in some way if you will buy the device you will be a broad beta tester and help all the other fencers to have a better product. Thanks for your great work!
Testing roadmap for the latest version of the device
On the bigger scale we conducted beta testing on 3 versions already. Last time in November a broad beta on 100+ devices for épée. That went well and since then we've rebuilt the system from the ground up to be better suited for 3 weapons. We plan product release in April so the devices will be very close to the actual products in this run. If things go as planned we will need to adjust only the software after that. The red lines just before product release represent the final broad beta-test.
How can you participate?
First, sign up below. Second, hop on a video call with us. We try to have the most diverse set of testers so we will send out video call invitations so we can get through the details. Third, receive your package and fence. The base requirements are to use each device at least 5+ hours/week and to be able to take weekly/bi-weekly feedback calls for around 4-8 weeks.
Another way for participating can be if you preorder a set and request a testing device. In that case you will receive a test set before and later your final set as well. So anyone in the first batch of preorder can request test devices. Preorder will start this month.
The third way is to receive one in a give away. We will give away for the most active members of the community and to university clubs etc. The give aways will be announced by e-mail, to receive it just sign up below.
So, please sign up if you didn't already and help us getting out the word by sharing this article.