Creative engineering to build the right product.

Mindtribe is an engineering consultancy. We play a strategic role to create products that customers love and that drive business success.

Recent Blog Posts

02.06.15
Introducing Flea, Mindtribe’s Fast and Familiar Bluetooth Smart Path
by Brian Cherbak

The Internet of Things is upon us. CES projectile vomited connected devices like a five year old on a road trip through the mountains. From a consumer’s point of view it means that your plants get the right amount of water and your belt tells you that you’re fat. From our point of view at Mindtribe it means we’re quickly becoming pros at Bluetooth Smart, formerly Bluetooth Low Energy.

We’re in the business of quickly building high quality products, so anything we can do ahead of time to be prepared for product requirements will get us closer to the first works-like prototype, the first fully integrated prototype, and ultimately production. So we’ve been doing some homework in the field of Bluetooth Smart, talking to vendors about the latest chipsets and finding evaluation modules to prototype and test with.

One of our favorite development kits is the LightBlue Bean by Punch Through.

 » Read more about: Introducing Flea, Mindtribe’s Fast and Familiar Bluetooth Smart Path  »

01.19.15
Getting Grounded: A Thermocouple Rite of Passage
by Kevin Mori

In today’s consumer product design world, thermal design is often the dark sheep of engineering.  The spider webbed phone screen – or even the waterlogged laptop on critical life support in a bag of rice – is a familiar sight in our tech-acclimated society.  But the blank screen with an error message, “iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it”?  Sacrebleu!

 

Testing thermal limits just doesn’t sound as glamorous as pushing processor speed or stretching screen size. And yet it’s perhaps the greatest limit to faster computers, quick-charging electric cars, and affordable LED lighting. I’ll save my defense for another post, but I urge you to become a better-informed thermal citizen by paying a little more attention to what’s hot (or not) in your surroundings. Nurture your inner engineer and grab a thermometer, or even a thermocouple.

Ah, the humble,

 » Read more about: Getting Grounded: A Thermocouple Rite of Passage  »

01.05.15
Chip Antennas
by Alison Thurber

As I start the new year and with it new projects both professional and personal, I’m reminded of how we here at Mindtribe don’t stop engineering when we leave the office.  We are engineers not only by education and profession, but also by nature.  We innovate, we create, we tinker, we build, and most importantly we learn.  In my new year’s landscape I see an enticing list of projects revolving around wireless devices and in particular Bluetooth.  My personal project as I leave the holidays behind is to make a Bluetooth controlled light for the wheels of my bike.  Sure, I could have bought a bike light or even decided to make a simple wired one, but what fun would that be?  I’ve decided to use a chip antenna and I’ve spent some time refreshing my knowledge on them.  So, in case anyone else out there wants to take a stab at a compact wireless design,

 » Read more about: Chip Antennas  »

12.22.14
Mindtribe Holiday Suggestions 2014
by Tom Hsiu

As our service to those of our dear readers who either are themselves technology, science, or DIY enthusiasts, or know a loved one who is, we present our second annual Mindtribe Suggestions for Holiday Gifts or Activities.  We’ll try not to repeat anything from our 2013 Suggestions. This is a collection of neat things tried or seen by individual Mindtribers which we hope will provide you with inspiration.

 

Play a real life Escape from the Room Game

We love puzzles, mysteries and adventure.  Escape from the Room games are real life challenges staged in specially set up rooms in which you participate as part of a team.  You have to find and decipher clues staged in the room which lead you to the ultimate solution of how to “escape the room.” Originally from Japan, these are part scavenger hunt, part Mensa test,

 » Read more about: Mindtribe Holiday Suggestions 2014  »

12.09.14
Prototype to Product: The Important Details of Launching Good Hardware
by Andrew Dupree

About a year ago, a couple of friends and I toyed with the idea of doing a hardware startup. We had a decent idea (I think) and a good deal of hardware prototyping experience. The three of us figured we could make a go of it. We put together an Arduino-based prototype, got some user feedback, applied to a few incubators… and that was about it. At the end of the day my friends had interesting PhDs to get back to, and I had just accepted a job offer from a great company called Mindtribe. So we shelved the startup dream.

The question remains – could we have launched a good product? Ultimately, we’ll never know. But after working at Mindtribe for a few months, I can say that there are roughly 873 important facets of making a real product that I had never considered as a fledgling hardware hacker.

 » Read more about: Prototype to Product: The Important Details of Launching Good Hardware  »

11.24.14
Thoughts on Apple’s WatchKit
by Greg Muscolino

Apple announced WatchKit last week, and with it has come a torrent of information about the Apple Watch platform. I’ve been poring over the documentation and playing with the Xcode 6.2 and iOS 8.2 betas ever since, learning as much as I can. It’s especially important for us at Mindtribe to be mindful of how new technologies impact our capabilities and the kinds of products that we and our clients can create for users. It’s with that mindset that I’ve been considering WatchKit, and have come to a few conclusions:

  • Apple Watch is going to be heavily dependent on apps adopting modern iOS8 technologies. If you as an app maker aren’t supporting them yet, you should probably start now.
  • The WatchKit APIs are representative of how resource constrained the Apple Watch will be. It’s important to understand what the WatchKit technologies are,

 » Read more about: Thoughts on Apple’s WatchKit  »

11.06.14
When Engineers Hack
by Brian Cherbak

I hear the word “hack” a lot these days. The concept of “life hacks” has gone so out of control that people are opening beer bottles with bananas—crazy!

IDEO Labs engineer Mark Harrison wrote an article last spring about his four all-time favorite workarounds, and we loved reading it here at Mindtribe. For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the article was his use of the word “workarounds”. Why didn’t he call them hacks? Why didn’t he just call them “clever engineering solutions”? It’s got me thinking about the work we do as engineers: is engineering just hacking? Is hacking a subset of engineering?

 » Read more about: When Engineers Hack  »

10.14.14
The Landscape of Manufacturing Options
by Sam Kang

When working with Mindtribe, clients frequently ask us how to handle manufacturing for their products. Mindtribe does not own or operate any factories, so we partner with manufacturers to physically build the products we design. Manufacturing is its own specialty with a significant body of knowledge surrounding it, so one blog post cannot do justice to all the options available. However, we have done a substantial amount of work on connected devices and consumer electronics, and within that industry the landscape of manufacturers is described in some common ways. The goal of this post is to orient you to that landscape as a first step in determining a manufacturing strategy.

 » Read more about: The Landscape of Manufacturing Options  »

09.26.14
Preparation for an Uncertain Future
by Mark Shughart

As a company, Mindtribe strives to work on a large number of interesting projects. Structurally, many of these projects require similar paths, which is where our methods help to drive success. Technically, our engineers need to have a wide technical base to be able to support the creativity of our clients. This drive for a diversity of technical understanding leads us to spend our time between projects exploring the unfamiliar areas of our fields so that we are able to offer the best solutions to our customers’ problems.

Beyond Michelle’s wonderful post on the varied aspects of 3D printing, other members of the team have also prepared themselves for the future by experimenting with unfamiliar technologies. As sensors become smaller and computation requires less power, devices will become more and more reliant on wireless communication. Many devices today use a Bluetooth connection to allow the computational and communication capabilities of our phones to unlock the power of the sensors.

 » Read more about: Preparation for an Uncertain Future  »

09.15.14
Quick and Small Exponential Scaling on the MSP430
by Timothy Van Ruitenbeek

For a recent project, I wanted to build a variable-brightness LED lamp, using an MSP430 to convert the linear slide potentiometer input into a PWM signal to drive the LED. Unfortunately, directly scaling the 10-bit ADC value to a 16-bit PWM duty cycle does not result in a linear apparent brightness response due to the eye’s (approximately) logarithmic response.

There are several ways to accomplish this conversion in an embedded system, with different trade-offs:

  • Use floating point math and powf() from math.h
  • Use a 1024-element lookup table of pre-computed values
  • Use a smaller lookup table with interpolation
  • Use an approximation that trades accuracy for speed & size

 » Read more about: Quick and Small Exponential Scaling on the MSP430  »

08.29.14
Why Ink Is the Best Stylus Out There
by Michelle Warner

Ok, so, not going to lie, I’m a little biased on this topic. I’m one of the engineers at Mindtribe who has poured a little bit of my heart and soul into Adobe’s new Ink and Slide. But biases aside, working on this project has given me a lot of experience working with the hardware and the chance to evaluate it for myself. Although I would not consider myself an artist, I do enjoy the occasional doodle, and while working on quality assurance and testing standards for Ink, I evaluated stylus performance by actually doing some drawing. From this experience I’ve gathered my top 5 reasons why Ink is the best stylus out there.

 » Read more about: Why Ink Is the Best Stylus Out There  »

08.14.14
Energy Harvesting: A Snapshot in Time
by Elisa Duggan

It is important for Mindtribe to keep up-to-date on the maturity of technologies. For electronics, one field that is seeing a lot of innovation is energy harvesting. While some options require high NRE’s, there are several products that are readily available for prototyping.

Solar is the most common but requires custom or at least customized panels and large volumes. So we see things like Citizen watches with solar recharging. We’re likely to see more of this as photovoltaic innovations make it possible to harvest energy from even overcast days and indoor lighting. Developing a relationship with a specific supplier will allow you to obtain a very targeted product.

 » Read more about: Energy Harvesting: A Snapshot in Time  »

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