Hi everybody. I just wanted to give you an update on our progress over the past couple weeks. I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted one of these. I get to working on other things and I forget how long it’s been sometimes. I’ll try to make sure I’m updating you all more frequently in the future. We have a little bit of good news and a little bit of bad news to share with you this time.
The Bad News - Miscommunication
Jamee and I were passing through Pittsburg this week so we decided to drop in on Jay, our hardware developer, to see how things were coming along. The last time we’d talked, it was our understanding that he was going to get started developing the printed circuit board (PCB) for the pen using the new processor that we’d decided on, and we were just waiting for him to let us know when he was done. When we stopped by we asked how the PCB was coming along. After a brief moment of confusion, he explained that he had been waiting for us to get a benchmark reading for the new processor and to confirm that it was indeed what we needed.
Put simply, we were waiting for him and he was waiting for us. It was an unfortunate situation and I would like to personally take full responsibility for the miscommunication. Luckily, we got the issue resolved without too much lost time. As I’m writing this, Shane is working on getting those benchmark tests completed so we can send them to Jay by Monday. (See photo above)
The Good News - Accelerometer Progress + Integration with Camera
While all that was going on Shane has been working with the accelerometer and has made real, meaningful progress. If you’re not familiar with what an accelerometer is, it’s a very small chip that senses movement. (Here’s a fascinating video by “The Engineer Guy” explaining how they work.)
By continuously measuring movement (acceleration) you’re able to derive the velocity (speed + direction), and track the absolute position in space. The Read ‘n Style pen will use this information in two big ways. First, we’ll need that data to form the image. The linescan camera we’ll be using takes thousands of vertical slices of information and stacks them up side by side to form the image. The camera needs the information from the accelerometer to know exactly where to put each slice. That data also allows the Read ‘n Style pen to sense how fast it’s moving across the page, which is critical for adjusting and smoothing playback speed.
Anyway, Shane was able to get the accelerometer working, capturing the raw acceleration data and turning it into the useful information that we need. He's now moving on to blending that information with the data we're getting from the camera so we'll get really good quality images.
The Good News - Packaging Graphics Progress
We’ve been working with our designer, Becky, to create some really nice graphics for the packaging the Read ‘n Style pen will come in. She got us a rough draft a few days ago that I wanted to share with you. We’ll be meeting up with her sometime in the next few days to go over things and discuss where to go from here.
If you think this looks a little funky, don't worry. It's not really going to look like the picture. The grey areas above are not printed, but rather a stand in for a secondary process called spot UV. With spot UV, a special photosensitive gel is applied and UV light is used to cure it. The result is a glossy layer like you see in the photo above.
Other News - TCEA Convention/Expo
In other news, Jamee and I made a trip to Austin, TX this week to attend the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) Convention and Exposition. We plan to begin exhibiting at EdTech and learning disability conferences as soon as the Read ‘n Style pen is released and we thought it would be a good idea to see one first hand to get a better sense of how they are run.
While we were there we ran into Leslie Fisher, a world renowned public speaker in the education space. She contacted us a few months back wanting more information about us so she could show us off in her “Gadgets” presentation. We saw on Twitter that she would be speaking at TCEA and we told her we were there too. She invited us to her presentation and then this happened.
We learned a lot on during this trip, made some really good connections, and had some fun along the way.
All in all, I'd say we’ve made some solid progress these past few weeks, but we’ve had a few hiccups as well. Luckily the delay caused by the hiccup was pretty minor and easily fixed so we’re still pretty well on track for an April ship date.