CuPID - Customisable Personal Information Display
Last month Bayly teamed up with the Melbourne branch of international tech company Tigerspike to produce a “Customisable Personal Information Display”. Code name: CuPID.
The birth of an idea
Tigerspike approached Bayly early on in the year with the idea for CuPID. One of their programmers, Michael, was tired of arriving at the tram stop near their office only to find that there was a long wait until the next service. Time that could have been better spent working in the office or on a Friday night extra time at their after work drinks or social activities.
Tigerspike work with PTV on various projects and services for the Victorian public transport network, which gave Michael an idea: Why not use PTV’s public data on a device that he could customise to his specific service and stop number, so that he could know when the next tram was due to arrive from his desk? This data would be as accurate as the Tram Tracker app or the displays at the stops themselves without the need to navigate through his phone or walk down to the stop.
The CuPID was born.
The first prototype Tigerspike brought to Bayly was a 3D printed cube with a simple dot matrix screen and off-the-shelf electronic boards and drivers. Michael programmed it to connect to the wifi and configured it using his computer. It did its job and even caught the eye of PTV execs when they were meeting at Tigerspike one day. “What a great way to support local innovation and Melbourne businesses,” thought PTV, and the process started to find some funding, to help Tigerspike kick off the CuPID project. Some of the team at PTV even requested their own cubes that Michael made up for them to trial on their desks back at their office.
Meeting a deadline? We can do it!
As it can be with external funding, it took time to get the right agreements in place. Tigerspike went away to find the funds for this new and exciting product design project, and just a month away from a big launch opportunity the funding finally came through. The ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) World Congress was to be held in Melbourne this year and PTV had a stand ready to host the first CuPID prototypes. When Tigerspike came back to Bayly asking if we could meet the 4 week deadline, we did some quick time calculations and said “Let’s do it!”
Getting it done on time and to budget
The first step was a more detailed project plan to ensure that we would meet the deadline as we knew it would be down to the wire. We knew that it would take at least a week to manufacture and assemble the prototypes, so with that delivery date in place the brainstorming and concept development stages were started. Multiple concepts for the cases came out of the process which were quickly evaluated by the Bayly team. We worked closely with Tigerspike to ensure that the final designs selected for prototyping would suit their brief and that PTV would be excited to show them at their stand at the ITS World Congress. The electronics design was being developed alongside the cases and our Electronics Engineer collaborated with the programming and development team at Tigerspike so that all elements of the design would come together in time. We used off-the-shelf parts for our electronics build including a 9x16 LED matrix display allowing us to show numbers up to 199, a USP8266 processor with full WiFi and DNS support and 2 additional RGB LEDs as indicators of the type of service displayed (train, tram or bus). These were all assembled and programmed in house.
The little things that can derail a project
In order to keep to the deadline we worked quickly to bring the concepts into 3D CAD, and a few tweaks later we sent the CAD of the two chosen designs to our prototyping friends in China. We have a few select companies that we work with for prototyping and through our experience working with them we have a good idea of each company’s strengths. We spoke to a prototyper experienced in plastic CNC work and painting, and they came back with a quote and leadtime. It was then that we realised that the Chinese National Holiday was smack bang in the middle of when we needed these prototypes to be built! Usually this is not a problem but the delivery date of the cases, painted and ready to assemble, was the Friday before the Congress. Production and shipping was to be delayed due to the holiday and there wasn’t much we could do about it.
Contingency, contingency, contingency
We had committed to the deadline and we hate nothing more than letting down our clients and our team so we made a back-up plan. In case the painted cases didn’t arrive on time we ordered multiple prototypes unpainted so that they could be sent earlier. This meant that we had time to fit the electronics that were being assembled in Melbourne and iron out any problems before the Congress. We would then be able to transfer the electronics as soon as the painted cases came in.
Delivery and a successful congress
The unpainted cases came in at the last minute and we even ended up picking them up from the airport to ensure that we had them in time to fit and test our electronics. The painted cases were delayed but we had 2 working unpainted concepts for Monday, the first day of the Congress, and the painted cases were delivered on the Monday so that we could launch them Tuesday. Phew! We got there.
The CuPID had a great congress with interest from all over the ITS network. PTV set up a touchscreen map in a table to show their live tracking system. One click on the selected stop and service type and the CuPID started counting down. The trams could be seen approaching on the map and the CuPID accurately displayed the time until the service arrived.
Due to the success at the ITS World Congress and support from PTV we are now working towards the volume manufacture of the CuPID. This involves design for manufacture of the electronics and the plastic housings as well as the design of the packaging that will ensure it looks great on shelf.
We will be sure to report back when the CuPID is available for purchase as we love new innovations in IoT and can’t wait to show you all the final product.