Intercom connector iWhoisThere (iKtoTam)

Stylish design at a minimum price for case production.
Intercom connector allows seeing your visitors on a smartphone screen and opening the door to them. The technology is exclusive to Formlab. We called it iWhoisThere.

Solutions of this kind have already been released. However, their cost was 2-3 thousand dollars per item. We wanted the price to be up to 300$, and we managed to keep it. By means of design, as well.

Watch the video and see how the connector looks and functions:
From any place in the world, find out who is knocking at your door right now. You don't need to be at home: iWhoisThere connector shows your visitor on the smartphone screen, allows having a conversation, records the conversation, and downloads it to the Cloud.
With the help of a connector, you can see who is standing at your front door; you can talk to your visitors and even let them in. To activate the device, you need to connect it to the central intercom – connecting two wires, and then download the app iWhoisThere. That is it: now your smartphone receives video calls to the intercom, and you can open the door to your visitors via a smartphone.
Block diagram of the connector
Block diagram of the connector
The system records all the video calls, takes pictures of visitors, and saves video records of visits in its data cloud.

How to minimize case manufacturing expenses

Various designs for a connector case. It is not big – we can show it through comparison with an iPhone or a battery.
Versions of iWhoisThere connector cases
Versions of iWhoisThere connector cases
Do you remember we have to minimize the cost of case production?
First, we got rid of any excessive details – anything that had no practical application. Then we calculated the production cost for the cases (made of aluminum).

Molds for this kind of devices would cost around 40 thousand dollars. The production cost for a single case would be 9$ even with a lot of 5000 units.
We didn't want to pay $40 000 for a mold. On the other hand, we can make a receiver by method of aluminum extrusion instead of injection molding: we squeeze the tube, cut it into pieces and mill. The cost of a die (a form for extruders) – is about $3 500, the production price of a case is $3-4.

That is how the boxes disappeared, and a cylinder stayed. The design of the connector is based on the principle "no excess": just a wall-mount and a work mode. The ring at the top of the device is a radar transparent material for connection to wi-fi and Bluetooth modules.
Connector elements
Connector elements
In the end, the design was determined by manufacturing techniques.
Case design. Connector and its wall mount
Case design. Connector and its wall mount

Three prototypes

We made the first case prototype quite quickly and started working on the software and electronics.

The first variant of the prototype:
We decided to present this prototype at the Russian TechCrunch exhibition:
By that time, the board was not finished yet, but the connector functioned: a doorbell directed video calls, and it was possible to open the front door using iWhoisThere app.
iWhoisThere (iKtoTam) app interface for smartphones:
The second generation of a prototype:
The third generation of a prototype. At this stage, we started choosing the colors and making slight changes to the appearance of the device.
Conclusion: we managed to develop an inexpensive but elegant metal case, minimized its production cost, chose and adjusted all the electronic components, created an application, organized a data storage server, made several prototypes, each being better than its predecessor.

Unfortunately, the process of development took us longer than expected. As a result, many analogs appeared, and we decided to close the project. Nevertheless, now the Formlab team knows how to reduce case production costs. You should only consider alternative manufacturing techniques.