Have you ever been in a situation when your phone has mysteriously disappeared at your own home? One moment it was in your trusty hands and the next it is nowhere to be found. Sure enough no one has seen its disappearance and some swear they didn't know you had a phone in a first place.
Most likely you have left it in another room or on your dining table or maybe one of your kids has "borrowed" it and abandoned it in a far flung corner. It could have slipped between the cushions of your couch or you have altogether forgot it in the car and just though that you brought it inside. Worst of all this vanishing act tends to occur right when you need to go somewhere (like work) or do something super important (like share latest with your friends).
Interestingly enough your phone eventually tends to show up just couple of feet away from the spot where it was "lost". Frustratingly enough showing up doesn't happen immediately and fair amount of effort has to be invested into phone's reappearance.
There are couple of standard ways of finding a phone. You either 1) take other phone (or computer/laptop/tablet) and call your phone or 2) wander from room to room turning you dwelling upside down till you find it. The problem with the first method is that you don't always have another device at the ready, the problem with the second method is that it is frustrating and time consuming (and you have to clean everything later on).
Press a button and your phone rings!
That would be a simple way of finding a phone, wouldn't it?
How it works
Findotron is a small stationary device which sits quietly on your table and waits till inevitable misplacement of the phone occurs. All it wants from you is a gentle tap on it's central button. Once you press it Findotron sends a signal to the server running on the internet and that server makes a call to the special app running on your phone. Your phone starts to ring (or vibrate if it is in quite mode) thus blowing it's concealment.
It is worth noting that since Findotron uses internet connection your phone can be found even it was lost in a spot with bad WiFi reception or in a spot with bad cell reception. For as long as your phone retains any way of reaching internet it has a way of talking to Findotron.
- Quick way to find your phone
- USB connector to charge your phone
- LED illumination to find button and USB connector in the dark
- Small footprint
- Nice looks
For those of you who has read it this far lets get geeky (but just a little) and look at what Find-o-tron really is and how it works.
At the heart of the device is absolutely beautiful micro controller with integrated WiFi and Bluetooth called ESP32 from Espressif Systems. It is designed for small and wearable electronics with super lower power consumption in mind (which is good for energy bill). Supports 802.11 b/g/n/e/i standards, has Xtensa
® 32-bit LX6 microprocessor and has bunch of memory and peripheral interfaces on board . Quite important is that it supports majority of 2.4G WiFi standards and even more important is that it is very inexpensive.
Circuitry and PCB is designed by our team. It consists of bunch of resistors, capacitors, inductance, well the usual. Of note is Silicon Labs USB bridge and couple LEDs. Main button, reset button (every device needs one), couple USB connectors and that's pretty much it. Pack everything in a pretty case and you have yourself a Findotron.
It may sound mundane but we really believe that we can make world a better place even if just by little at a time. Phones became such an integral part of our everyday lives (of ourselves even) that parting with it is quite annoying if not outright stressful. Notice how often you have phone in your hands. Checking time or weather or email, chatting with your friends, watching videos. It's hard to imaging life without it. That's why i want to be able to tell where my phone is all the time. There are solutions out there in case your phone was lost of stolen somewhere, but what about finding phone in your own house? We hope that by bringing this project to life we can find our phones right where we left it.
How money will be used
Modern circuit boards are very curious things. If you want to make one or two it will cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. But if you make a bunch of them at once prices drop to more manageable level. Sometimes prices of fully assembled boards are cheaper than individual components on it (if bough in small quantities). The only way to make electronics affordable is to mass produce it. And mass production requires, a lot of end users and a lot of money. So to get this project of the ground we need to be able to make and sell at least 500 Findotrons. And that's where money will go - tooling and volume manufacturing.
And here is a production case!
Risks and challenges
Every development project runs a number of risks.
First and most problematic is overoptimistic deadline. Delays happen no matter how well you plan for it. We have added extra month to our project schedule to make sure that we deliver on time.
Never-ending-engineering. There is always a way to make device better, there is always one more option to add, one more feature to implement. We will finalize and freeze hardware design within two weeks after campaign ends. This way we have plenty of time to actually manufacture and ship items.
Going over budget is pretty common problem for a lot of development projects. We already have quotes for manufacturing of PCBs (printed circuit boards) so that we don't have surprises down the road.
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