About this project
STRETCH GOAL REACHED: Since we got already to $30,000 (faster than me writing the stretch goal message) we will send a nice "bluebuddy sticker" to every backer :-)
DiveNav is a technology company providing solutions to the Scuba industry.
We have already created leading products - such as our eDiving Scuba Diving simulator and our divePAL planner - and services - such as Dive Computer Training. Now we are bringing an even more interesting device to the market: bluebuddy - the must-have dive accessory for the connected diver.
bluebuddy is a wireless data logger that allows a scuba diver to easily - and quickly - import dive logs into a smartphone and share them with friends: attach bluebuddy to your BCD, go diving, retrieve the log using your smartphone, post the log on social sites.
bluebuddy uses the new Bluetooth 4.0 low energy technology (BLE), has an integrated battery that will last several years and has a depth rating of 40m / 140ft
For the Tech Divers that go beyond the recreational limits we have created techBuddy; its housing was designed in collaboration with Deep Sea Supply (a California company specialized in creating injection molding products for scuba divers) and uses a manufacturing process that offers a depth rating of 130m / 400ft.
bluebuddy and techBuddy can be used with any smartphone that supports BLE and they come with a free App for the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and new iPad.
We expect to have an App for Android devices as soon as Google releases proper APIs supporting BLE.
bluebuddy is a wireless data logger that includes a microcontroller, memory, a pressure and temperature sensor and a water activation sensor: just clip bluebuddy to your BCD and when you jump in the water bluebuddy will activate by itself. If you want to activate bluebuddy while at the surface (to retrieve a log) just touch the 2 contacts with a wet finger.
When you descend below depth X and stay there longer than a time Y, bluebuddy will start logging your dive. Both X and Y are programmable via the My bluebuddy App.
During the dive, at every interval T, bluebuddy will store time, pressure and temperature. T is programmable via the My bluebuddy App. When using a sample interval of 10 seconds, you can use bluebuddy for almost 300 hours before you have to retrieve its logs. That's a lot of diving!
When you surface, and stay at the surface longer than a time interval Z, bluebuddy determines that the dive is completed. Z is programmable via the My bluebuddy App.
bluebuddy contains a 1,000 mA/h battery that should last for several years (we estimate an autonomy of ~5 years for a typical recreational diver doing < 50 dives per year).
The My bluebuddy App is an integral part of the product. Not only the App will allow you to retrieve the logs from the device, but it also include a complete logbook, access to thousands of dive sites locations, a dive Analyzer and a dive Planner.
The dive Logger will allow you to associate several information to a dive profile such as:
- Title (to briefly describe the dive)
- Icon and images
- Dive site (you can either create your own, or use one of the thousands of dive sites already available in our divePAL database)
- Gear (tank, weights, BCD, exposure protection)
- Detailed description of the dive.
You can also use the dive logger to save your dive logs "in the cloud", and/or share it with your friends via email, Twitter, Facebook and divePAL.
The dive Analyzer shows graphically:
- Depth profile
- Temperature profile
- Nitrogen Loading (by compartment)
- Average Depth
- Ascent Rate
- Dive Time Remaining,
- CNS clock (if you dive Nitrox)
- Equivalent Air Depth
- Estimated Pressure Group
- Tank Pressure profile
- Gas Time Remaining.
To produce the various graphs, user must enter dive location (so the App can determine elevation and water type), Gas mix and Tank information (size, pressures at the beginning and end of the dive).
At the end of a dive you could use the dive Planner to plan your next dive.
You will be able to plan your next dive in 2 ways: trial and error, or find the Surface Interval.
In the trial and error mode, you just enter a Surface Interval, plot the multi-level profile of what your next will look like, enter gas data and dive site info. The planner will run a simulation taking in consideration your previous dives and the data you just entered, and will show relevant data (NDL, CNS, EPG, EP) reached during the simulated dive. If you don't like the results, just change your input (SI, Gas mix, dive profile) and try again.
In the Surface Interval mode, you enter all the data as above, except the Surface Interval. You will also enter a "safety factor" (% of NDL you want to reach at the end of the dive). Then the planner will run a simulation taking in consideration your previous dives and the data you just entered, and will show relevant data (NDL, CNS, EPG, EP) reached during the simulated dive and the Surface Interval you need to have to obtain those results. If you don't like the results, just change your input (Gas mix, dive profile, safety factor) and try again.
bluebuddy is a dive accessory, and as such it is not meant to replace your main dive computer, but, nevertheless, it provides some unique benefits of which the primary one is to make it easy - and fun - for you to log and share your dive memories.
Additionally, bluebudddy could be used as a back-up device. As an example, if you are in the middle of a dive trip and your primary dive computer malfunctions, then you could use bluebuddy and its App to plan your next dives so you can continue to enjoy your vacation.
If you are a dive instructor, you could use bluebuddy as a teaching aid. Equip each one of your students with a bluebuddy, then, at the end of a dive, review with them - right away - their dive profile and use it to point out any area that might need improvements such as a better buoyancy control or a slower ascent rate.
Lastly, if you are a dive operator you could use bluebuddy to monitor your customers ' activities and make sure that they dive within the limits that you might have imposed as part of a specific dive.
bluebuddy uses the new Bluetooth 4.0 low energy technology and therefore it will only connect to devices that support such technology. Fortunately, every day there are more and more devices being introduced to the market that supports Bluetooth 4.0 technology.
On the Apple camp, iPhone 4S was the first smartphone supporting BT 4.0 LE (aka BLE) and now Apple has multiple devices: MacBook Air, Mac mini, new iPad (aka iPad 3), new MacBook Pro, new iPod touch and iPhone 5. Additionally, Apple provides BLE libraries for all their devices that have BLE. It was for as a logical decision to develop our first bluebuddy App for the iPhone 4S / iPhone 5. This App will also run on a new iPod touch and on the iPad 3. Regarding the MacBook devices we plan to integrate into our divePAL Mac software the possibility to download logs directly from bluebuddy/techbuddy. We expect to have a beta of divePAL Mac in June.
On the Windows camp, thanks to the recent introduction of Windows 8 (that has native integration of BLE), it will be much easier to support bluebuddy. Our first step is to add to divePAL Windows the capability to download logs directly from bluebuddy/techbuddy. We are already working on this and we expect to release a new version of divePAL Windows with BLE by April. Next we will have an App for Windows 8 smartphones / tablets.
On the Android camp things are a little bit more complicated as of today there is no official BLE API from Google and it is up to the various manufacturers to provide - or not - software support for BLE. While waiting for Google to fix this, we are working with some libraries provided by semiconductor companies and we expect to have beta version of an Android App for bluebuddy in May / June timeframe.
Most of the hard work related to the bluebuddy project has been done .... as we already have several samples of the assembled board and prototypes for both housings and have written several thousand lines of code for both the embedded controller and the iPhone 4S App.
While the product development phase is completed, we still need to work on the product certification, product manufacturing and product support.
Regarding product certification our immediate plan is to submit our board to a certified FCC lab to obtain FCC Part 15 certification for USA (and ICES for Canada) and to submit the My Blue Buddy App to Apple for review / Approval. We expect the first part of the certification phase to be completed by early March. After that, we will decide for which other countries we will seek certification based on market demand.
Regarding product support, while bluebuddy is relative simple to use, we believe that "one video is better than thousand pictures" and so we plan to create a set of online tutorials to show how to properly use the product (a bluebuddy online class) and make it available for free on our service Dive Computer Training. We also need to add to our online store the possibility to register the product for warranty.
Regarding product manufacturing, we plan to launch production of the first manufacturing lot of several hundred units in early January and expect to have the first batch of tested parts by early April.
We are also planning to launch a second - and larger - production lot by early February. After that we will progressively increase manufacturing volumes based on market demand.
The design of the bluebuddy board is completed and we have already selected a vendor overseas.The design of the waterproof housings for bluebuddy is completed too and we have already selected a vendor overseas to create the production molds and manufacture the parts.
The housing for the techBuddy is created with an over-molding process and we have already selected a vendor - located in California - that has already created the production fixtures for this mold and it is ready to move it to production.
Final assembly, testing, packaging and orders fulfillment will happen at our location in California.
Once the Kickstarter phase will be completed, customers will be able to purchase bluebuddy and techBuddy directly from our online store or from one of our approved retailers. As of today we have more than 500 retailers registered and 200 of them are already approved to resell our products.
$1 Pledge: We like You too!
$5 Pledge: Same as above plus we will mention your name on our website.
$35 Pledge: A nice T-Shirt in your choice of sex / color / size. See images below.
$109 Pledge: You will get a bluebuddy (saving $40 compared to MRSP of $149) and free shipping in USA (add $15 for shipping outside USA). Plus we will mention you on our website.
$139 Pledge: You will get a techbuddy (saving $40 compared to MRSP of $179) and free shipping in USA (add $15 for shipping outside USA). Plus we will mention you on our website.
Use of Funds
Proceeds will be used to: 1) complete FCC (and other countries ) certifications, and 2) turn ON volume production .... so we can timely ship the units you are going to request!
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Risks and challenges
bluebuddy is a simple to understand / simple to use product and we are on track to ship early production units in April, but still the challenges of designing and manufacturing this kind of system product are quite significant and any minor issue in one of the project components could lead to significant delays.
Here the areas were we see most of the challenges and our plans to mitigate the related risks.
While the board design is completed there are still few potential risks related to the design that could force us to modify and / or redesign the board, the most critical area is EMC Compliance: bluebuddy is a wireless product and as such it must meet established regulations. We have designed the board using state-of-the-art methodologies and we have already identified an FCC-accredited compliance laboratory were we plan to perform the necessary tests in January, but, Radio Frequency design is a "black-art" (Alberto knows something about this as his previous start-up was a semiconductor company designing Radio Frequency devices) and surprises are not uncommon.
Another hardware related risk is the design of the waterproof housing for Blue Buddy: we have contracted the design of this housing to a third party specialized in designing and manufacturing waterproof housing for diving applications and right now we are quite satisfied with the prototypes we have received. But, going from prototypes (machined parts) to production units (stamped parts) could create some unanticipated issues with the housing - and delay the overall program. This issue does not apply to techBuddy as its housing is created with a different process.
In addition to the possible hardware issues, there could also be some software related issues either because of functionality or because of interoperability with smartphones.
Regarding the functionality of the product, our plan is to use the next 2 months to increase the number of beta testers (and test dives) and so collect as much feedback as possible.
Regarding the interoperability with smartphones, we need to differentiate between iOS devices and other operating systems.
For iOS, our solution (bluebuddy + My Blue Buddy App) relies heavily on the BLE APIs provided by Apple. If Apple decides to significantly change their BLE APIs (we do NOT expect them to do so, but, it is something that we do not control ...), then we will be forced to change our part of the code (both the embedded code and the App code) and this could substantially impact our schedule.
Regarding the support for smartphone using the Android operating system, we want to make it very clear that as of today we do NOT have yet an App for Android as, while there are multiple Android smartphones in the market that integrates Bluetooth LE components, there is no "Android API" for Bluetooth low energy. Nevertheless, we are monitoring very closely the market and we expect that this situation will be solved in the next 3 to 6 months.
Regarding the support for smartphones equipped with Windows 8, most of the new Windows 8 devices are quipped with Bluetooth 4.0 LE technology. Additionally Microsoft has included in the drivers for Windows 8 specific functions for BLE. We expect to have a beta App for Windows 8 in May/June this year.
While we have already identified the manufacturers for the main parts (PCB and housing) and have provided them with design documents, there still could be delays in creating production tools, setting up production lines and production test fixtures. To mitigate those risks, we plan to have weekly review with the vendors and address any potential issues as soon as we become aware of them.
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