Update after two years

A project log for No battery NFC air pressure sensor

Measure tire or ball pressure with your smartphone

CaptMcAllisterCaptMcAllister 09/10/2018 at 02:110 Comments

September 9, 2018:  I bet the followers are shocked to see an update on this project.  It's definitely not dead.  In fact, it's been quite busy, but I didn't really know what I should say.  I'll hit some highlights and say that you should expect some more updates in the future.

On the technical front, we've had several batches of flex circuit assemblies made at contract manufacturers, and they've been installed in footballs, car tires and bike tires.   Everyone who has used them has been very impressed with the overall accuracy and ease of use.   It's pretty easy to get people excited about the technology.

We did a pretty major overhaul on the firmware in the tag that will enable us to operate with iOS devices.  When we first started, iOS had no NFC support.  About a year later, they added NFC reads, but no NFC writes.  Our original tag architecture needed the reader to write to the tag to request a measurement.  However, for various reasons, we overhauled the firmware, and we should be able to support iOS sometime in the next couple months.

The app is mostly the same, but we now upload all the data to a web server.   This allows users to monitor their sensor's readings in an internet-connected database.  This is useful for compliance management (making sure your employees are actually checking the pressure), and fleet management (is the whole fleet of trucks, cars, footballs, rafts, etc. running well?).

From the business front, we made it into another accelerator, and made some good contacts.  I have to say that I am done with accelerators though.  There's so much emphasis on pitching and taking on investors.  For those of us who have a more complicated or risky product (e.g. not just "Uber for hairstylists"), it can be impossible to make any real headway in the actual competition.  The real benefit of the accelerators appears to be the introductions.  If I could do it all over again, I would have leveraged those a bit harder.  It can be hard when you have a real full time job though.  And that was another thing that floored me about the accelerators.  We'd look around and realize that the various startups were everyone else's full time job, where it was just a hobby or pet project for us.  We're not to the point yet where we could quit our real jobs to do this full time.

Which brings me to the final part of the update.  We are running a beta trial right now with fat tire bike riders as part of a test run of a business to consumer model where we'd sell sensors to bicyclists to monitor their pressure, starting with the fat tire bikers, who run low pressure at varying temperatures on some pretty expensive tubeless tires.  It's easy to get the sensor in, and it works well.  I think we'll learn some interesting stuff from this beta and we'll step and repeat from there.  It continues to be exciting to work on this project, and I expect it will continue to be for some time.