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Update and Quick Demo

Dear Reader,

Last time I wrote I signed off by worrying that the mobile apps would take a long time.  Sure enough, app development has been a crawl.

iOS App Update

I think the iOS app is just about release-ready.  It’s lacking bells and whistles, but core functionality comes first.  Here’s a quick video.


Though the individual functions might all look somewhat familiar from previous demo videos, a whole lot has changed under the hood:

  • iOS 8 is supported
  • Firmware compatibility checks and over-the-air updates are supported
  • Connection process is smoothed out
  • Settings exposed to user in comprehensible way (for previous demo videos I was setting a lot of registers manually)
  • Many, many miscellaneous bug fixes

Shipping Snags

In the comments section of the last update, a reader (Thanks Beat!) alerted me that although you can usually get away with shipping one or two radios through USPS, shipping hundreds will likely cause packages to be returned.  International shipments would likely be a problem as well, as customs in many countries find it suspicious if a package is sending out radio packets.

The most obvious solution would be to ship the meters without the batteries installed.  But this has many downsides.  Shipping the meters disassembled is not viable because the meters are very delicate in the disassembled state.  A battery pull-tab like you find on many consumer devices is not a good option because the enclosure is almost sealed.  And I don’t want the user to have to go get a screwdriver and disassemble+reassemble their meter upon first receiving it.

The best solution I could come up with was having all the meters go in to “shipping mode” before I mail them.  The meters will not be broadcasting radio packets.  Instead, they will be hibernating, waking every few seconds to see if someone has shorted out the resistance measurement input.  If the resistance measurement input is shorted, the meter wakes the radio and behaves normally.  I’ll put a little instruction sheet in all the shipments, but  this means you will receive a working meter, no assembly required.

Bootloader Snags

In the app development process I turned up a bug in the bootloader that was based in the meter firmware.  The bootloader is the part of firmware that cannot be updated on the fly.  This is very frustrating, because the bootloader had already been loaded on a few hundred meters.  So those meters had to/have to be disassembled, reprogrammed, recalibrated, and reassembled.  *deep sigh* Such is life.

What’s next?

The iOS app needs a little bit more polish, then will be submitted to the app store.  The Android app is further behind.  I’m considering polling the crowdfunding group to see who uses iOS and who uses Android, so I can start releasing meters to iOS users first while the Android app development continues.  More on that soon. I’m really eager to get meters out the door ASAP, especially since we are approaching the Holiday Warp.

Apologies again for the delays, this Thanksgiving I am thankful for your patience.

~James

39 Responses to “Update and Quick Demo”

  1. Rich November 20, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    I for one am a hard core Android fan, but, if per chance my meter showed up before the software to use it, I figure I have waited this long… I can wait a little more.

    Besides I have plenty of friends in the apple world that would be interested in what the device can do.

    Hang In There!

  2. Seth November 21, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    Very cool, James!! I’m even MORE stoked to get my MooshiMeter now :D

  3. Tom November 21, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    James:

    I feel like I am taking a modern manufacturing course in weekly instalments.

    I feel a dilemma, I want the meter but I am enjoying the course and getting it will mean it is over.

    Thanks for helping us enjoy the journey!

    Tom

    • James November 23, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

      Thank you :)

  4. Henrik November 21, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Living in Europe I know the shipping and custom processing will take a week or two (Maybe longer now, due to Xmas). This means it would be nice if the meter is shipped some time before the application is ready, to avoid a long wait when the application is published.

    • James November 24, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

      This is something I hadn’t considered… My thinking has been very USA-centric, which is probably not great since almost a third of the orders so far are international. Thanks for bringing this up, I’ll think about it.

  5. Mateo November 21, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    Thanks for the update! I am checking the website everyday for updates and new comments. Your doing an awesome job of keeping us in the loop.

  6. Vincent Royer November 21, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    argh I feel your frustration, and am frustrated myself!

    Releasing the IOS app and shipping without an Android app is incredibly painful for Android users. It feels like this isn’t the deal we signed up for. If the product was going to be IOS only, or released first for IOS, I never would have backed it.

    Even if the first release of the app is rough and feature limited, it’s better than nothing. Once you get the app out there I think it will be much easier for you to crowd-source the rest of the development.

    I definitely would feel better if you just shipped the meters even though the apps may not be ready. At least then we’d have a physical object in our hands.

    • Michael November 22, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

      I totally agree!

    • James November 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

      Hi Mr. Royer,

      I’m wrestling with the same dilemmas. I have to play it extremely cautiously though. I was tempted after I got the bootloader working to just start shipping meters right away, since I knew I could update app code on the fly. But now I’m glad I didn’t because in developing the iOS app I found a bug that could have caused firmware uploads to fail in the field. If I had released those meters, I’d have a support nightmare on my hands.

      I want to get hardware in your hands, but as I see it, the hardware itself is useless without an app to support it. Releasing hardware before the software is ready comes at an opportunity cost. It may give a short term high to actually ship (and receive!) hardware, but I think the safer option is to ship as a package.

      Waiting sucks! I’m very sorry. All I can tell you is I’m working on it. Best,
      ~James

      • Seth November 23, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

        Hi James, is there a chance you’d ship meters to people (like me) who aren’t afraid to do bootloader updates ourselves?

        • James November 26, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

          There’s no debug header, just exposed pads, so you’d either have to solder wires directly to your meter or build a little stand like I have… I do not doubt your technical ability but I want to limit the number of special cases needing support :)

      • Hans December 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

        @Vincent:
        As an Android user I agree that it would be unfair to release the meters to iOS users first (obviously)
        Its like treating a customer different because he drives a Mercedes…

        However: I also agree with James that during the development of the apps bugs could be found (and already have) that only can be fixed locally instead of remote.

        @James:
        My tip would be to wait with shipping until BOTH apps are finished.
        – we are already waiting for a long time, so 1-2 months extra is not such a big deal.
        – with all the customs around the world its unrealistic to think we can receive it before Christmas/this year (Europe generally takes 3-4 weeks with normal post)
        – we are all treated equally, so no unfairness.
        – you guys have the time to give everybody a full working product.

  7. Drew November 21, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

    I volunteer to help beta test your IOS app. I have like 3 home projects waiting on me getting my Mooshi Meter!

  8. Greg Fordyce November 22, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    Good things come to those who wait.

    I wouldn’t bother with a poll about who uses iOS. Just start shipping as you had planned when you are ready. I think you would find many people saying iOS just to get their meter. Instead make sure you have at least a basic Android version available when you ship, even if it is a beta version downloaded from your website. I have access to both iOS and Android but will be using it mainly with Android, and I am sure many Android users will also be able to borrow an iOS device temporarily till you get Android up and running.

    Keep up all the hard work, looking forward to my meter soon.

    Greg.

    • James November 26, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

      Thanks Greg, will take under advisement

  9. Cal November 23, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    What is the lowest model/version of an IOS capable for use?

    Trade offs. Have an Android device. But No IOS.

    Might be a low cost option to find a used device from all those upgrading.

    Thanks for your efforts. :-) …Cal

    • James November 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

      The iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and iPod 5 (seen in video) are the lowest Apple devices with BLE. I’ve been developing for iOS 8 but I think the app should run in iOS 7 – I haven’t been able to test that though, I don’t have any iOS 7 devices around and it’s remarkably hard to downgrade an Apple device.
      Thanks!

  10. Dave November 24, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Is the burst duration configurable? Eventually that would be a cool feature. The idea would be to sample 5 minutes at a high sample rate, and then download the burst to the phone/pc for analysis.

    Very cool tool, very excited about getting mine, no rush :)

    • James November 24, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

      Right now the burst is configurable up to 512 samples. That’s as many as can be stored in RAM at a time right now. I have some ideas to free up some more space, but that’s an optimization for later. However if you have a microSD card, you can log longer bursts and download them later. There might be some gaps in the record there if you want to use the higher sample rate (like 8kHz) because there is only one microcontroller that must read from the ADC and write to the SD card.

      Thank you Dave!

  11. Jim Twitchell November 24, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I would recommend doing the survey of crowdfunders now and then directing your app development efforts based on the results of that.

    … and take some time off this week and enjoy Thanksgioving!

    • Karl November 24, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

      Seconded…step away for at least a day or two!

      Everything will be clearer when you come back…

  12. Martin Samuelsson November 25, 2014 at 4:59 am #

    Will you send a meter to Apple well before starting their app review process?

    http://wimoto.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/inching-forward/

    (Some commenters there say that’s BS, but I wouldn’t put anything beyond Apple.)

    (Not that I really care, as I’m waiting for the Android app, and Google apparently isn’t as picky in their review process. :) )

    • AMS November 25, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

      Also you can install an apk without going through the store on Android. If it’s signed by the same dev key then store updates will work even if you installed it otherwise.

      • James November 26, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

        I actually did not know this. I’m going to read up on this more.

  13. Beat November 25, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    Cool solution you found there!

    Would be really nice to be able to switch OFF the radio and meter per App too (and switch on again by shortcircuiting). I’m considering developing some BT and BLE apps and having the meter always sending isn’t that an exciting thought.

    Please consider adding the OFF function to the App.

    Btw, does the LED really need to blink while radio is OFF ? sounds so strange! wonder what a customs officier would think of a blinking device, even with radio off. Think the device should really be sleeping completely, and only wake up once in 10 seconds to check for that wake-up short-circuit.

    For the ios (and Android) App, as dual meter, it looks really nice, although a bit nerveous, and probably hard to read. Proably a small “max hold” display, and an 1-second-updating “average” main display (removing insignificant digits – just as much as needed information is better) would better for most static measurements. Also the scales in horizontal mode should imho be much better readable (large zero and top of scale numbers).

    Keep the great work going. Don’t get caught by users pressure and Christmas or end of year delays. There will be a next year after those. ;-)

    • James November 26, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

      As always, good ideas Beat. Thank you. Adding the ability to re-enter “hibernate mode” is actually really easy since the firmware is already written, so I went ahead and did it.

      Strictly speaking, the LED does not have to blink. But it provides really great peace of mind when packing these meters up as sort of a last minute QA check. If it becomes a problem it’s not hard to change, but I want to keep it in there for now.

      I think your suggestions for the visual layout are good as well, but I think I will categorize them as tweaks for an update rather than something I will invest time in right now.

      Definitely feeling the pressure. I hate being late! Your kind words are much appreciated :)

      • John Griggs December 1, 2014 at 11:14 am #

        I seconnd the request to be able to re-enter hibernation mode, so that the radio can be turned off for travel, etc.

        Regards,
        John

  14. Tom November 26, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Keep in mind that Android has 84.7% market share… (Q2 2014 source IDC) while iOS is 11.7%… So you are just probably killing this wanderfull product !

    • James November 26, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

      I think “killing” is a strong word, but those are great numbers to keep in mind, you’re right. The iOS app is ahead because it started sooner – this project started in early 2013, Android support for BLE was really terrible then and Apple’s CoreBluetooth library was much more mature. Also since this was a self-funded project, the fact that I had an iPhone was also relevant.

    • airprakken November 27, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

      Those are international numbers. In the US, Android is approx 62% and IOS approx 33%.

    • Bob November 29, 2014 at 10:30 am #

      Please keep in mind that while Samsung and Apple are the smart phone market leaders with many Android based phones out there. The actual traffic seen on data use on phones is almost 50/50, with IOS over 52%. ( lots of androids being used for cell calls and game app use only )
      I think you need to continue on with your current path for the release of the product and make sure your attempts on product assurance feels right. As an fellow product development guy, I know what happens when you not allowed ( under pressure to release ) to fully test all aspects of a product. I’ve bought into the product knowing what a product development / life cycle includes.
      I’m glad to wait for both the hardware and apps till you feel good about the integration testing.
      Keep the faith.

  15. Josh November 26, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    I may have missed this answer somewhere along the line, but are there any plans to open up the api to devices outside of the android or ios family. I personally don’t own a single device with either of those OSs and would love to us this in a number of various projects. I would love to be able to use this with Windows Phone, Windows Tablet, RaspberryPi or other Linux systems with appropriate BT hardware.

    • James November 26, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

      The API will be opened, but it’s still being tweaked as bugs become apparent in the dev process. I’ll post on the blog when it’s fully specced :)

      • James November 26, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

        Oh – as an example – I released a very early version to our friends at Tessel, they did a blog post about it here: http://blog.technical.io/post/79168037163/ble-module-mooshimeter

        The API has evolved substantially, but I thought you might like an example.

        • Josh November 28, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

          Thanks for link. I will read it over and look forward to the final version.

  16. airprakken November 27, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    I use only Android but believe starting first with the IOS app was a good idea. Apple is very difficult to work with at times so there is more uncertainty there. That’s part of why I don’t use iDevices. Per the earlier comment, it is easy to install an Android APK outside the store. Android devices just need a single check down in the settings to allow that. Then you can simply email everybody a link to it on your website for initial installation or update. I use an aviation app that does that with no problems. Please do not wait for the app to be in the Android Play Store before release.

  17. john December 2, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Keep up the Great work your are doing James and thank you for the progression of updates…I too am anxious to have one in my hands but understand the App Development and manufacturing frustrations…keep at it you are doing great job..

  18. Lou December 9, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    James, As much as I’d like the meter soon, please take your time to get the quality right before shipping. After almost 40 years in product development I can tell you with a certainty that the cost (people, time, etc) to both the producer and consumer goes up exponentially the later in the process the quality issues are detected and resolved. I appreciate the thoughtful transparency you offer us on your blog; too many vendors remain silent or hide issues from their customers.

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