ZapBox: "Mixed Reality" for $30

Created by Team Zappar

Interactive virtual content in the physical world: play mini-golf, visit Mars, or build an engine in 3D. Then create and share your own content. ZapBox 1.0 is no longer available for purchase, but ZapBox 2.0 is available now. Find out more and order directly from www.zappar.com/zapbox.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Shipping, Outstanding Surveys, and an Unboxing Video
over 2 years ago – Tue, May 09, 2017 at 06:39:54 PM

Hi ZapBoxers,

This post gives the latest update on production and shipping estimates and a final opportunity to check and update your shipping details.

At the end of the post we share an unboxing video to give you the first look at the final design of the full ZapBox kit. You saw it here first!

Production and Shipping Update

Our revised timetable set out in Update 18 was to have manufacturing complete by the end of April. We’re tracking a couple of weeks behind that revised date, but the great news is that the production for Kickstarter backers will be complete this week, and our shipping partner ShipNaked will collect your ZapBoxes from the factory this Friday.Yay!

It begins...
It begins...

From the factory your kits will go to one of three distribution centres depending on your shipping address - one in Germany for backers in mainland Europe, one in the UK for backers located there, and one in the US for all other backers.

ShipNaked are experts in delivering Kickstarter projects so we’re following their lead on the best way to get your ZapBoxes to you as soon as possible, whilst recognizing the budget constraints from offering inclusive worldwide shipping with the Kickstarter pledges.

The kits dispatched from the European and UK distribution centres should start to arrive with backers around the end of this month. Those shipped out of the US will take a little longer as they’ve got an ocean to cross and unfortunately air-freighting is just not an option for cost reasons (we did look into it). They should arrive at the US distribution centre 4-6 weeks after the pickup and then start arriving to domestic US addresses a week or so after that. So with a following wind we’re hopeful US backers will be getting their kits before the end of next month.

We have backers from all over the world which is a really great thing and we're delighted to have made so many new friends across the globe! We’ll keep everyone updated with the shipping process as the boxes make their way to the distribution centres and onward to their final destinations, along with providing better estimates for backers outside of the US and Europe.

Thanks so much for bearing with us and be assured we’re working with our shipping partner to get your ZapBoxes to you as soon as possible.

How to verify your shipping details

The response to our previous update showed that we should have been clearer about where to fill in or verify your shipping details, so here’s a simple explanation:

  • We’re using BackerKit to collect your shipping information through a survey.
  • You will have received an email with a link to your unique survey from BackerKit; either in February or April depending on your pledge level. You can re-click the survey link to verify or change your responses.
  • The email was sent to the email address associated with your Kickstarter account. The sender is “Team Zappar” (with a backerkit.com address) and the subject starts with “Response Needed”.
  • If you registered to Kickstarter using Facebook, the BackerKit email will have been sent to the email account associated with your Facebook account.
  • If you can’t find the email with your survey link, you can request a new link to your survey from https://zapbox.backerkit.com

Outstanding surveys

Most of you have filled in your surveys - thanks very much for that. We’ve just got 153 outstanding from the over 1800 Kickstarter backers.

We’ve sent reminder emails out for those we still need. We’ve also listed below the backers by Backer Number that we are still waiting for.

(You can find your Backer Number in the “You just backed ZapBox” email from Kickstarter, or by logging in on Kickstarter and clicking the “View Pledge” button near the top of the ZapBox Kickstarter page.)

The backers with the following backer numbers still need to complete their surveys:

32, 33, 103, 133, 168, 200, 210, 218, 270, 271, 296, 301, 305, 304, 308, 323, 344, 368, 373, 395, 404, 413, 420, 429, 475, 499 526, 529, 539, 541, 550, 574, 589, 600, 611, 647, 652, 654, 661, 692, 706, 709, 716, 730, 736, 750, 767, 863, 883, 925, 932, 939, 952, 998 1000, 1011, 1014, 1060, 1063, 1076, 1077, 1109, 1110, 1111, 1119, 1134, 1176, 1183, 1210, 1211, 1271, 1273, 1278, 1287, 1304, 1316, 1358, 1390, 1397, 1405, 1407, 1414, 1422, 1431, 1482, 1495 1524, 1529, 1535, 1538, 1545, 1563, 1589, 1597, 1605, 1619, 1635, 1679, 1694, 1699, 1708, 1747, 1785, 1792, 1813, 1818, 1839, 1841, 1863, 1868, 1871, 1895, 1899, 1909, 1914, 1924

The following backers provided payment details that didn’t work and so were not charged when Kickstarter collected your pledges. You can still fill in the BackerKit survey and provide new payment details to BackerKit if you still want to receive your rewards:

95, 128, 141, 194, 198, 204, 228, 365, 369, 375, 391, 411, 469, 488 502, 503, 607, 688, 711, 768, 798, 814, 876, 891, 994 1019, 1075, 1083, 1090, 1277, 1285, 1327, 1443, 1479 1587, 1612, 1712

If your backer number is not listed in either of the lists above then we have all your details and you do not need to do anything more. If you want to verify yourself or change any details then please follow the instructions above to find your survey link or request a new one from BackerKit.

We’ll be locking the surveys on Thursday 11th May so if you need to fill in or update shipping details please do so in the next couple of days.

Some of you added additional payments on BackerKit, either through the tip jar or by adding on the Developer Bundle if your pledge level didn’t include it. Those payments haven’t yet been charged, but we are also planning to do that on Thursday. You may want to check your card details on BackerKit are up-to-date before then.

(Zap)Unboxing Video

That’s all the boring admin stuff out of the way - time for something way more exciting!

If you want your ZapBox to be a complete surprise when it arrives then look away now. If you want a sneak peek at the final product design, then take a look at the unboxing video below...

 

We think our design team have done an amazing job in turning our functional (yet frankly ugly!) prototype used for the campaign video into a real product. Despite the $30 price point we wanted ZapBox to feel like a high-quality product and have pushed cardboard to its limits. We hope that seeing the final version makes you even more excited for its arrival!

This update is already a long one but stay tuned for another soon giving an update on the app and content side of things, as well as the new beta app release.

- Team Zappar

Remaining surveys sent!
over 2 years ago – Fri, Apr 07, 2017 at 11:21:05 PM

Hi ZapBoxers,

Just a quick note from your friends at Zappar HQ to let you know that the remaining surveys have been sent. Huzzah!

These surveys are the ones for people who backed at the $30 "ZapBox" tier. Everyone else should have already received theirs a couple of months ago - we don't need any more information from you, so fear not! :)

For those "ZapBox" tier backers who are just receiving their survey links, please fill in your shipping details ASAP so we can lock down the shipment plans. If we don’t have your details by end-of-day UK time on April 19th, your shipment will be delayed as we’ll be locking the responses and passing the information on to our fulfilment partner at that point.

We’d recommend just filling it in right now so there’s no danger of you forgetting it later on!

Oh, and check out this shot hot from the production line... exciting stuff!

- Team Zappar

Production and Delivery Update
over 2 years ago – Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 07:47:40 PM

Hi ZapBoxers!

This post gives an update on the production and delivery plan for your ZapBoxes. In short manufacturing is now underway but we are running slightly behind our original estimates. Full details of the revised schedule below.

Production update

The final designs for all elements of ZapBox (headset, controllers, pointcodes, and packaging) were completed, signed off, and delivered to our production partner Mr. Cardboard a couple of weeks ago.

We ended up making a few more design changes than expected which led to more rounds of samples than originally anticipated, but rest assured these changes are all about improving the product. We're thrilled to have finished the design stage, and really happy with the final results.

The tooling, printing and die cutting of the cardboard is well underway now and assembly is kicking off in earnest this week. Exciting times!

Delivery schedule

The current schedule we are working to has manufacturing completed and ZapBoxes shipped from the factory to distribution centres by the end of April.

The majority of the rewards in the Kickstarter campaign were listed with an estimated delivery in April, so this does represent a slight slippage of the schedule we'd originally hoped for. We're really sorry for this. The main reasons for the delay are the additional design iterations mentioned above and the work required to design the trigger for the controllers.

We're still working out the exact logistics of shipping these out to you all so we can't yet offer any more detailed guidance on exactly when to expect your ZapBox to arrive. We will post updates on this as soon as we've finalized the plan (very soon!).

Backers at the ZapBox level will be receiving their surveys soon to provide us with their shipping addresses. We’ll post another update just before pressing the button so you’ll know to look out for it.

Developer Bundle update

The Developer Bundle reward level was listed with an estimated delivery in March, based on our original plan to do the manufacturing and shipping of those rewards in a separate batch. Our current plan is instead to do all the manufacturing to fulfil the Kickstarter rewards in a single batch.

We recognise this change in plan represents more of a delay for those Developer Bundle backers, and we want to make it up to you. Here’s how:

  • As a gesture of apology we’re going to increase the number of zapcodes included in the Developer Bundle from 10 to 15.
  • We’ll also update the beta app and print-at-home materials out in the next couple of weeks that will add support for on-device map building and third-party headsets, which will bring the beta experience much closer to the final ZapBox one. We’ll post another update soon about what to expect from this next beta release.
  • Finally we’ll ensure that the individual shipments for Developer Bundle backers get priority when the ZapBoxes arrive at the distribution centres.

We’ve just done the third batch of updates to the lists of email addresses with access to the beta apps on both iOS and Android. We’ve also followed up individually with anyone who has reported problems getting access. Please leave a comment below if you’re still having issues.

The 15 zapcodes will be added to your personal ZapWorks accounts this week. If you signed up for a business trial on ZapWorks rather than as a personal user then you should also add a personal account to your ZapWorks login now. You can do that from this page.

ZapBox evangelism

ZapBox would never have happened without the amazing support of our Kickstarter backers. You guys will always have a really special place in the ZapBox story, and in our hearts! We now have over 2000 backers when including those who pre-ordered after the end of the campaign, and have been totally blown away by that level of support.

We knew from the start that a successful Kickstarter campaign would be only the beginning of the ZapBox journey. To deliver on its full potential we need to continue to spread the word and further build the community, which is why we've been out at various events showing off a prototype version of the kit, sharing our excitement and generally banging the ZapBox drum (or xylophone to be precise!).

Simon on the showcase stage at MWC.
Simon on the showcase stage at MWC.

One recent opportunity was an invitation from the organisers of Mobile World Congress to present ZapBox on the Showcase Stage. MWC is a huge show with over 100,000 attendees, so this was a great opportunity to present ZapBox to an audience eager to see innovation in mobile technology.

As well as presenting ZapBox on the Showcase Stage, Simon and Caspar were also interviewed by Mobile World Live TV and gave a live demo of some example ZapBox content.

 

Along with the public outreach efforts, we’re also actively discussing the creation of custom ZapBox experiences with our partners. Zappar’s in-house creative team builds hundreds of custom AR and VR experiences for our partners each year, and we’ve started exploring the additional possibilities offered by MR and ZapBox with them.

You may have seen from our social media channels we’ve recently taken a ZapBox prototype out to the SXSW festival, where we had a number of great conversations about bringing new content to ZapBox. We expect many partners who work with us to create ZapBox experiences will allow us to share them with the whole ZapBox user community, meaning more high-quality content for everyone.

We don’t have anything to announce on this front now, but just wanted to give an insight into the other ZapBox-related work going on here at HQ.

Our top priority remains getting your ZapBoxes into your hands as quickly as we can, and completing the initial content experiences we promised in the campaign. We’ll post another update soon showing our progress on the app and content side of things and letting ZapBox backers know when to expect their survey links to arrive.

We hope that the slight delay hasn't left you too disappointed. We're working hard to ensure that the final kits are extra awesome to compensate!

Thanks for your continued support!

- Team Zappar

Android Beta and ZapWorks Forum
over 2 years ago – Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 08:40:13 PM

Hi ZapBoxers!

This update is only really of interest to Developer Bundle backers. If that isn't you then feel free to stop reading now, and have yourselves a great weekend!

Beta Apps

The iOS Beta was released earlier in the week and if your pledge included the Developer Bundle and you answered yes to the question about iOS access then you should have received an invitation to install it via TestFlight already. If not then let us know in the comments and we'll follow up with you individually.

If you're one of the beta backers who has been waiting patiently for an Android build then we have good news for you - the Android beta build is now available in the Play Store. You will need to click on the following link to "opt-in" to becoming a tester, and after clicking that you'll see a further link to download the ZapBox beta from the store. NB: The link will only work for those people who backed at a Developer Bundle level and provided the email address for their Play Store account in the BackerKit survey.

https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.zappar.zapbox

We delayed the Android release so we could bring the experience closer to the iOS one in terms of tracking quality, at least for those devices that offer the manual camera control APIs to apps. Thanks for your patience everyone!

To bring this to you as quickly as we could there is a little more manual camera setup required on Android at the moment, but we'll be looking at managing all this automatically for the final ZapBox app. In this first beta version you'll see a couple of toolbar buttons when you launch the app into the camera view. Here's the recommended procedure for this build:

  • Point the camera towards an object that is around 1.5m away and tap the AF button. That should trigger auto-focus, and then lock the lens in that focus position. We find 1.5m or so for sharp focus works fine for both tracking the world markers and the controllers, and having it locked avoids issues due to focus hunting.
  • After the auto-focus is locked, try tapping the little "lock" icon. If your device supports manual control of ISO and exposure then this will attempt to maintain the brightness of the image, but with a shorter exposure to reduce blur (the tradeoff is the ISO will be higher so there will be more noice in the image). You'll see a message telling you either the settings were applied successfully or that you device doesn't support manual sensor control. If the settings were applied then the exposure will now be locked. If you move to a location with significantly different lighting you'll need to press the button again to return to default automatic exposure mode, and then lock it again when the light levels are correct. We'll be working on making this all automatic in future.

We're aiming to make significant improvements to tracking with blurred images as we work towards the final ZapBox release. This will help increase the speed of motion that can be tracked across all devices but will be especially important to those android devices that don't support the manual camera API. For now the best advice is to find a bright environment to use it in to nudge the auto-expsoure algorithm towards a shorter exposure time.

Most Android devices will currently output a 720p stream at 30 FPS. Android has a seperate API for high-speed capture which was intended to support recording slow-motion videos. Unfortunately the high-speed API doesn't easily support processing of those images on the CPU, although we are continuing to investigate ways around this to deliver the best experience we can on every device. We'll keep you posted on progress.

ZapWorks Forum

Now the beta app is available on both iOS and Android we're hoping to see some of you dig in and see what you can build using ZapWorks. However we also recognise that you might have questions and need some assistance as we build out the full docs for developers. You might also want to discuss ideas with other ZapBoxers, or even share what you've built already.

So it gives us great pleasure to introduce the brand-new (and thus currently empty...) ZapWorks Forum! We hope this will be a helpful resource for all users of our ZapWorks tools, but as intrepid Kickstarter types we wanted you to be the first to know. We've set up a ZapBox category and various members of Team Zappar will be monitoring things there too and helping out where we can.

https://forum.zap.works

We're looking forward to some interesting chat and all things AR/VR/MR and ZapBox and hearing your thoughts.

Have a great weekend, and see you over at the forum!

- Team Zappar

Pushing Beta Buttons!
over 2 years ago – Fri, Feb 03, 2017 at 05:35:47 PM

One of them is being pushed with a virtual flower. Because deadlines.

Hi ZapBoxers,

We mentioned in our last update that we were aiming to get some beta goodness rolling out by the end of this week and we do indeed have some lovely stuff to start sharing now.

We’ve prepared PDFs for the print at home controller and world codes and these are now uploaded to BackerKit. We’ll push that button straight after this update goes out, so anyone who has filled in their survey and is getting the Developer Bundle should receive a link to the download within the coming hours. Stand by your scissors, people!

Also in the download is a zapcode which can be scanned with the beta app (once you receive your invite) to let you experience the joy of pressing a virtual button with a virtual flower. It’s only a tiny thing but we still find it pretty satisfying. We should probably get out more.

If you want to see this beta app in action (and who wouldn’t want to watch a button being pressed by a flower?) then take a look at the “informal” video below where Simon walks you through it.

Good job he didn’t say shaft, or we’d have to film the whole thing again.

The zapcode in the download will allow you to start pressing buttons with flowers instantly, but we’ve also included the source project for ZapWorks Studio. You can import that into ZapWorks Studio and investigate how we built it, and perhaps use it as a starting point to create more weird and wild things. We can’t wait to see what you create!

Next week we’ll prepare a tutorial video walking you through the creation of this scene in ZapWorks Studio and describing in detail how to get started building content for ZapBox. We might even get around to replacing the flower with an accurate geometric model of the controller itself, which was the original plan for this demo content. Anyway, we wanted to get it out in this early form in time for the weekend as we know some of you are super keen to get stuck in!

As for the beta apps themselves we expect to get them submitted to the stores tomorrow. The android one should go through fairly quickly and we’ll then start getting the invites out straight away. The iOS version will need to go through App Store approval but fingers crossed should be available around the beginning of next week.

Have great weekends everyone!

-Team Zappar