The development of Knops: how we did it

24 Nov '2017 Knops

Effort, hard work and precision.

The development of an entirely new product takes a lot of effort, hard work, and precision. Our technology is brand new. “There is no standard. No big deal, it just means we need to set the standard ourselves.”

“We developed a new technology with our product. That makes development harder because it has never been done before. Changing one aspect means we have to check how this impacts the other aspects,” our designer Richard explains. “In order to make sure that things really work, you need some check with reality. You need experimentation to check if the models are correct. Well, they almost never are and the experiment itself is often flawed, but that’s all part of the engineering process.”

“There is no standard. No big deal, it just means we need to set the standard ourselves.”

Everyone’s different.

“Every ear is different, people have a lot of differences. Men and women have different ear shapes,” our ‘Tech Nerd’ Arjen says. “We did a lot of testing on potential users, people wearing the prototypes for longer periods of time with different kind of sizes, different genders, age groups,” Richard says. “We fine-tuned each of the audiences.”

“In the beginning of the development, we already noticed that Knops was not aligned with the ear in some cases. It was tilted. That’s an aesthetically unpleasing thing that I don’t want, as a designer”, Richard continues. “We had to change the ergonomics for that. You could call it the designer ergonomics because it was not bothering the comfort, but the aesthetics. So in the end, we came up with this universal shape that will fit almost everybody.”

Arjen: “Instead of just trying this, trying that, and so on – we got a basic shape that we took from multiple ears. We started making variations on that shape: making it thinner, making it bigger, changing angles. I’m personally very happy with how the fit is now.”

“The thing is to choose the right materials, the right finishing, so it all looks nice and sturdy.”

The perfect thing in your head is not perfect.

Prototyping is a very important step in the development. Nowadays we have 3D-printing, that’s amazing because we can quickly repeat the process. “That means you can not only make a product and produce it sooner, but you can also improve the quality a lot”, Arjen says. “‘Oh, this doesn’t work, let’s try this. It might be better if the angle is different here, can we re-round the shape there?’ It’s a lot more dynamic than just statically figuring out the perfect thing in your head, which turns out not to be perfect.”

With high-quality products like Knops, fit and finish is very important. “The ring we use is gonna be perfectly machined, the same machine finish that high-quality watches have”, Richard says. “It’s not something cheap like a belt buckle from a clothing store. The thing is to choose the right materials, the right finishing, so it all looks nice and sturdy.”

There’s a lot to consider if you’re talking about the feeling you want. “What kind of materials are we going to use? How strong is the material? How durable will it be? What influence does the sunlight have? Can you drop Knops on the ground? Will it get scratches easily?”

“Of course, it’s also about how the acoustics are going to work. We can’t allow that there’s any air leakage, because this would impact the sound quality. But that’s something we completely nailed down perfectly. And we’re proud of that. The feel of the product is important as well. When you want to change the Knop, it has to be smooth.” Knops has to feel good.