June 3, 2016: Wow, a lot of things have been going on in the past month. First, we were selected as finalists in the MassChallenge startup accelerator program in Boston. This accelerator provides office space, mentorship, in-kind support, and the ability to compete for zero-equity funding at the end of the program. We're very honored to have been selected, and the judge's feedback has given us a slightly new focus. The feedback was extremely positive. I think they're as excited to have us in the program as we are. The only thing we have to figure out is how we're going to get to Boston, since we're in Minneapolis.
The second big thing is that we have collaborated with a partner in China to put prototype sensors into bike tires and footballs. We expect to have these back in hand in the next few weeks. It is pretty difficult to seal the large holes you need to make in an inflatable in order to get the sensor installed inside. By installing them before the tire or ball is vulcanized, we will never have to worry about sealing these huge holes.
Next, we paid the Android developer fee and we're working on getting an app up on the store. Right now we have it installing to our phones from the sandbox, but nobody else can see it yet. We hope to change that in the not too distant future.
We have to make more sensors. There have been some patient customers on Tindie that are waiting for us to make a new batch. This will probably happen in June. Those sensors will work with the app that will be on the store at that time.
Finally, we're planning to shift our near term focus a bit and focus on balls instead of tires. The MassChallenge judges were excited about our work partially because it aligns very well with the whole deflategate thing going on. Since they're in Boston, I'm sure they've heard even more than we have about the Patriots and Tom Brady as it pertains to air pressure. They were excited that we could measure the air pressure in a football without having to use a leaky air gauge and stick a needle into the football. So we plan to shift temporarily to balls from tires. We will come back to tires after we get a good ball design.
Next, we found the MS5637 from Measurement Specialties. It's a sensor that is purely digital, fully calibrated, and capable of measuring up to 29 psi in its extended pressure mode. Given that the highest pressure ever recorded on earth was 15.24 psi absolute (108,380 Pa at 261 meters), that means they should be able to measure to about 13.76 psi in a ball in general. The NFL only allows pressures up to 13.5 psi, so we just squeak by. Other balls (soccer, volleyball, basketball) are all pressurized to lower values. We have completed a new layout with this pressure sensor and we plan to order rigid boards and get them back by the end of June. Then we plan to order them in flexible material from Itead or another vendor and we'll ship *those* sensors to China for inclusion in football bladders. We'll get those back and lace them up in leather football shells, pressurize, and we're on our way to production.
We don't yet know how we're going to try to market this. We were thinking of doing a Kickstarter again, since we were successful with the BooSTick, but there may be a better way. Hopefully MassChallenge can help us in that area.