At Innovation Play, our goal is to create low cost electronic devices that provide a measurable benefit, simplify your life and save you money.
Over the last several years, we have designed and developed the firmware for several prototype products. We focused primarily on wireless timing gates. These gates can be used to time a putt stroke, a 40 yard dash, or many other sports related drills. Our devices are always very low cost, low power wireless devices with rechargeable LiPo batteries. It was all about measuring an athletes performance over time, many years in most cases, with all the data being view-able via a mobile device and stored using those services.
While the sporting industry was fun and exciting, it wasn’t paying the bills so we put them on a back burner. We migrated over to devices that solve problems around the house. Sort of ‘Home Maintenance’ alerts and generally focused on HVAC issues. These devices may not pay the the bills either but it sure is fun creating these things and giving it your all to validate the market. (That’s a whole different story!)
To be efficient in all this world you have stick with common tools. We like TI low power wireless devices such as the CC2530 for ZigBee, CC2540 for BTLE, CC3000 for WiFi and the CC430 for 900Mhz. Using TI’s BLE-Stack and Z-Stack a developer can get up to speed a lot of late nights but with little $$ out the door. Our non-wireless development usually starts with a TI Launchpad or STM32L series for really low power LCD based applications. Its hard to get away from Microchip and we have an active project using their PIC18 series devices.
It’s fairly inexpensive to get a PCB made just for our initial prototypes so after validating all the hard stuff in an application using development kits, we quickly try to get as close to and actual PCB as possible. $250 for PCBs, $30 in parts, a $50 stencil, a stereo microscope,a toaster oven and your in business building really small PCBs with really small surface mount devices.
We measure our time in hours, days, maybe weeks but certainly not months, we need to be mobile and make changes when our market research drives us in a new direction. The key to doing this is leaving a good trail of bread crumbs (documentation) and if there is one things that sets a tablet apart from a PC, its having that ability to document your work real quick. I find my iPads are almost indispensable for this reason.
Twitter, LinkedIn, web pages, we use them all to make contacts in the business we are pursuing. While not our work ‘zone’, sometimes, sending emails, going to trade shows, and writing down business plans is welcome relief from bit twiddling.
Thanks for stopping by….