Narrative Clip life-logging camera hiccups again

The path from Kickstarter to customers is seldom smooth, and life-logging camera company Narrative (née Memoto) knows that better than most, announcing another hardware issue today that will delay shipping for early backers. According to a message sent to early supporters on the crowdfunding site, issues with camera quality, PCBs, and some of the casing colors means that the production rate has been lower than expected given the initial aim to begin shipping from November 1st.

"Our production rate right now is lower than anticipated" Narrative wrote in its email. "These are issues that we could have let slide, but then you wouldn't have a product in the quality we're seeking. None of the issues are a show-stopper, but together they are making the output lower until they are resolved."

According to Narrative, three main issues are causing the bottleneck, predominantly around testing and quality control. The machines producing the custom-made camera modules, for instance, are not all calibrated properly, its been discovered, which means that Narrative's automated benchmarking isn't sufficient to weed out any duds. Instead, that has to be done manually.

Meanwhile, a similar calibration issue has affected the PCB assembly hardware, which means more testing to ensure all of the components are mounted correctly. Narrative had significant issues with internal design of the Clip camera, after discovering that the original plans for components like GPS, antennas, and more would actually lead to interference.

Finally there have been problems with the casings for Clip, or at least two of the four color variants. Problems with the mix of color powder for the orange and white plastics left the resulting shells either too brittle or too subdued, which has forced Narrative to reset production of all but the black and gray versions.

The lower-than-expected production could introduce a couple of weeks delay to those who had been anticipating getting their Clip this month. For instance, a Kickstarter reward unit previously tipped for shipment in the week of November 18th are now being notified it's unlikely to ship until the week of December 9th. Orders made through Narrative's site after November 1st aren't expected to ship until the start of January 2014, at the earliest.

Taking a project from idea through to production and sales is trickier than many expect, and Narrative has encountered its fair share of issues after missing the initial launch estimate of February this year. That hasn't stopped the start-up from raising $3m in venture capital recently, which CEO Martin Källström told us last month would be used in part to develop the next product in what's expected to be a Narrative family.