Updated: Feb 21
We've designed and developed FIVE prototypes of the LitterPod™ before we considered starting taking pre-orders. We've invested over £250k in R&D. Almost unheard of from a privately owned startup business like us!
Our design journey has been amazing. Each prototype we've created has been a natural evolution of the one before it. We have always known that before taking any pre-orders from customers, we MUST have a fully manufacturable product ready to go. As of December 2019 we're ready to manufacture!
The most recent prototypes are both fully working models, one of which is used as a reference point by our manufacturers, the other is used EVERY SINGLE DAY by Kuba & Leia. Let's look at our design journey.
Here's where we started:
Back in 2017 we created a series of test rigs. We explored the principle of a metal rake passing through a curved based tray, allowing us to 'lift' clumped litter and dispose into a separate waste compartment.
Our first prototype worked on 360 degree principle. The rake turned full circle. But it was problematic in that some waste would get stuck to the rake and also the drop angle in the relation to the waste compartment meant that the waste didn't always fall into the waste compartment. So we knew we need to look at a better mechanical solution.
This third prototype represented the most important mechanical development. We designed a channel system that changes the angle of the rake as it ploughs through the litter and also creates an almost vertical drop above the waste compartment.
Importantly it meant that the rake could be come bi-directional rather than having to complete a full 360 degree circle. This allowed us to make the LitterPod™ smaller, drastically reducing its height and overall footprint.
This was our first show-ready prototype. We introduced a simple and intuitive three button display and developed a range of rake and ploughs that we've tested with many different clumping litters. We also refined the aesthetic, blending matt and gloss finishes to give it texture and depth. It's a stunning highly detailed product when you see it in the flesh. Pictures don't do it justice!
At this stage we also started designing the 'plough' as an integrated part to the rake. Initially we thought these would be two separate parts, but by integrating them we made it a lot easier to do the full empty change. This prototype was taken to major cat shows in Finland where we receive valuable feedback from fellow cat lovers.
As taken to the National Pet Show in November 2019, this is a full operational prototype. Today it is still used by Kuba & Leia at home every day. It's also there favourite litter tray!
This final version applies our ongoing R&D into weight sensor technology and is 100% safe. The four weight sensors work in tandem with a front motion sensor meaning that the LitterPod™ will never run a cycle if a cat is in or near it.
We have also invested significantly into creating electronic fail safes. This means the LitterPod is in a perpetual state of self-diagnosis, where it checks that all sensors are operational before it can be used.
This final prototype stays with our manufacturing partners in China. Our team and quality assurance broker meet regularly. It is used as a main reference point as we go through the tooling, injection moulding, metal works and electronics process.
As you can see the LitterPod™ has been through a professional design process. We've invested carefully to work through all design hurdles. Most importantly developing a robust, reliable, simple to use and well-engineered product.
You won't know it to look at it, but the rake system is incredibly robust and a completely unique piece of engineering.
Underpinning our design thinking the fact we always wanted the LitterPod™ to be a product for cats. It needed to feel like a normal litter tray. This meant keeping the entrance height low and also keeping the overall footprint of the product as small as possible.
Also - house cats - are creatures of habit. So for many a new learned behaviour of having to climb up into a new tray or get into a domed environment mean many cats may reject using it. As a point of interest Kuba and Leia hardly ever use any of the other litter trays now - the LitterPod™ is always their go-to toilet. So clearly it's got their seal of approval!
Our philosophy has always been that if it's good enough for Kuba and Leia, it's good enough for our fellow cat loving fuurriends!
"Testament to their focus on quality, the Kuba & Leia team have rejected a previously purchased steel planned for tooling. They moved to a higher quality steel to ensure only the best quality and finishing to the plastic parts. While this has caused a delay to the schedule and increased costs, it's great to work with a business who won't compromise on quality." David Merrikin, Red House Global
The LitterPod has been designed by some of the finest engineering, design and electronics minds in the UK, Europe and China. We've never cut corners and never will. We're massively excited about being at a point where we can now manufacturer and get them into the hands of fellow cat lovers.
We hope to welcome you on board soon!
Kuba & Leia's Owner.