MyPhone Thermometer and Cooking Sensor for IOS and Android
A thermometer to sense and communicate the temperature around you, and a cooking probe to barbecue, roast and bake like a master Chef
System D is introducing the first of our Myphone sensors. We are calling it “Myphone Thermometer”.
The sensor uses the headset connector on your smart-phone or tablet, either Iphone or Android, and you can attach our quick small air temperature sensor or a cooking probe. We have developed some great features:
-Quick response time algorithms so you can tell the outside temperature right away. This uses a predictive algorithm so that the software estimates where on the curve the temperature will stabilize. We chose very small sensors to reduce the response time,, however they just weren’t quick enough. This is pretty accurate, and cool!
-Skype notification system that works on IOS or Android.The notification function was a tough one to crack. We decided to go with skype because of the open plug in, universal interface, and popularity. You’ll need a free skype account for notifications to work.
-A collaboration Website. You can record and store your temperature logs as graphs on our website, myphonethermometer.com. This feature is also available with other smartphone thermometers, but we have also made temperature curves collaborative. You can share cooking temperature curves, home heating profiles, whatever – and Kickstarter backers will have free access to the web site, where all kinds of interesting temperature charts and readings will be stored! With our cooking thermometer you can compare your barbecue temperatures for “Boston Butt” to those of master chefs or your neighbors!
The next features (below) set us apart from the other smartphone thermometers out there:
-It works with both Android and IOS. Right from the start we wanted our sensors to work on all popular platforms.
-You get an air temperature sensor AND a cooking sensor. Now you can track the temperature of pretty much anything!
-Kickstarters have free access to our collaborative web site. OK, the secret is out, we plan to charge for our website in the future, but your kickstarter login will stay valid as long as Myphone is in business! Who knows, maybe someday all of the great barbecue chefs will have their secret smoking temperatures posted on our web site. We sure hope so!
-And!! – ours is the least expensive smartphone thermometer out there. System D is committed to delivering the best products at the lowest possible price. Eventually the market will set the price, but for now we're trying to produce a volume product, with high quality production tools, that will keep the price in line with what most people will pay for a device like this.
We made videos of the prototype, and of our app under development, and our shop is experienced at building things like this. We are equipped to make thousands of them at a great price!
Development of the Myphone Thermometer:
For eight months I have been working on this exterior temperature sensor that uses your smart phone to read, store, and graph temperatures . . .
So I started thinking – somebody has to have done this before!I’ll just buy one!
Sure enough – a bunch of developers on Kickstarter and other crowdfunded project sites have temperature apps and thermometers!As you will read in this blog, I bought one, then another, and another, spent another hundred on one that works wireless from ebay – and soon I came to realize that it is not exactly a common product, and most of these just didn’t work very well.They are either really hard to calibrate – or really slow to respond – or the interface is clunky.
So . . . now it was time for the “”MAKER IN ME > > >!!”” to emerge!
First – I built a prototype and a breadboard, starting with the plans I had used for the “Do it Yourself” smartphone thermometer on the internet.A cheap $2 app is available in the Itunes store that shows a real basic interface using a 10Kohm attenuated thermometer.My first prototype was the most basic one you can build, but it did work.
Because my prototype worked, I knew I could make the product. It is really kind of a fun project, so if you want to make your own instead of ordering one from me I would really recommend it.The parts are only about $10 individually!
I made a list of several problems with the prototype using the DIY internet plans:
- Very difficult to calibrate
- Only works in a very narrow range of temperatures
- Slow response time when there is a change in temperature (like going outside)
- You cannot use the same app for cooking probes and air temperature sensors
Next, I did a rough electronic design for something that would work better and would also have a connector for two different sensors.It is really quite simple electronically.I realized early on that we could make a product that works with existing apps, but it would be a lot better if we developed our own apps.
After my concept was roughly on paper I thought it was time to see how the existing products out there solved the sensor calibration and response time problems.
I bought all of the smartphone thermometers I could find out there, and another electronic one available online.A couple of them use the headphone jack, and others use the USB input or wifi.I settled on the headphone jack because that would let me design a hardware product that would hopefully work universally on Android, Apple, and maybe Windows phones.
Next was the decision to develop our own app.My plan to use the commercial software wasn’t working a well as I wanted, so I went on Elance and hired a software engineer.I got a great plan from Ari Cotton, an engineer from South Africa.It seemed to me he really understood what I wanted to do.We discussed what would be possible with a new app, what features could be developed, and how we would work together to finish the product.
I built a new and better prototype using my own plan.
We also decided to use automatic calibration.Some of the existing thermometers require you to use a form of manual calibration like an ice water bath or boiling water.I wanted automatic calibration so I duplicated commercial IC schematics but at the lower voltage of the mic or earphone output. An electronic thermometer is a common circuit so as a technology it is quite a simple step.
Now it was time for me to go visit the big guns from System D, my shop down in the desert in California.You are probably familiar with Dale and Greg from several other Kickstarters because they are “Production Guys”! –When I develop stuff I kick it around with these guys early in the process so that I’m sure it is able to be produced once we get to mass production.They thought the idea was cool.
We worked a little more on the hardware when I got to the shop, and then had a cook out at the shop to test my prototypes.Dale’s Iphone with the cheap app from the Apple store was used with my prototype to test it.We cooked up Tri Tip and Beer Can Chicken!Both of the prototype sensors worked great with the existing apps although they had problems with calibration and accuracy at some temperatures.
After our cook out, we were really excited because we knew we had a product that would be great!
We wrote up notes from our prototype development cook out, packaged up a test bench breadboard, components, and a couple of prototype sensors to send to Ari in South Africa, and started planning for the next stage of development.
Until I got Ari involved all of my prototypes had been tested out with commercially available software apps.You will see those apps in our videos.We are also testing the prototypes with our own app.Ari is doing that down in Capetown.I put a clip in our video of him working on the app and measuring temperatures on the test bench.
Current State of Development
Summary:We have a Prototype that functions with existing Apple store App, and includes all Myphone sensor electronics in a suitable for production size package, and we have an Android app that works but is still in development.Here is what we have so far:
- Functional prototype of a sensor connector that plugs into the headphone jack
- Functional prototype of an air sensor that plugs into the connector
- Functional prototype of a cooking probe that plugs into the connector
- These devices function marginally well with an existing commercially available Iphone app.
- These devices function better with a draft app we have written for Android
On-Going Development for Final Product:
Various sensors were tested for faster response time and accuracy, and we chose the fastest however this selection of the final sensors is still on-going.
Web site software has been developed where collaborative temperature curves can be stored with individual accounts, the web interface is still being developed
Myphonethermometer.com website is obtained for the project.
Hand sketch of final production model was released with campaign, and CAD drawings for collaboration with backers are complete and released with this update.
Development and Production Plan:
During and after the Kickstarter campaign we will complete the product development of Myphone Thermometer and both the Android and Iphone apps.We anticipate the following schedule:
During Kickstarter Campaign
- Finalize the CAD drawings with backer input during the campaign
- During campaign, draw up an alternative electronics PCB design to evaluate further miniaturization of the connector electronics and incorporate ICs for error correction.
Weeks 1 – 2 after Campaign:
- Production Prototypes made (within 3 weeks of campaign – all in house)
a. Electronic circuit prototype (PCB or Soldered)
b. Thermistor and Component selection
c. Cavity and Resin cast prototype of Connector
d. Machined prototype of shell for Air Temp sensor
e. Inputs for App with final electronics selection
Week 3 after Campaign:
- Final selection of Electronics design (PCB or Solder) and final CAD models
a. Backer Input Weeks 2 & 3
b. Final Modifications Week 3
c. Initiate design of App (color, interface & look) with backer input
Weeks 4 – 5 after Campaign – Kickstarter Funds Available!
- Initiate mold construction for Connector and Sensor housing
- Manufacture cooking probes with specified components
- Order all electronic components for Kickstarter Production
- Manufacture pre-production connector circuits
- Manufacture pre-production Air sensor circuits
Weeks 6 – 7 after Campaign
- Complete Injection Molds for Connector and Sensor Housings
- Injection Molds tested onPre-Production electronics
- Finalize App & submit to Apple and Google (App can be emailed to backers)
- Test Website Interface and Skype Interface
Week 8 after Campaign
- One iteration of pre-production assembly to finalize molded design
- Order outside manufacturing of electronic components
- Receive cooking Probes from Manufacturer
- Website Tested & Live – App Distributed via Email – Website Public –
- Deadline for Kickstarter backer Web Logins
Week 9 - 10 after Campaign
- Mold sensor housings (can be done prior to electronics received)
- Mold connector housing with electronics
- Package and Ship Kickstarter orders
If Campaign ends September 25, we could be shipping by the first or second week in December!
$100K - Remote Wifi Monitor
We talked to the leading experts in this field and they said most smartphone monitors fail because people don't like to leave their phone somewhere. Our remote wifi monitor will use Myphone sensors and broadcast the signal over wifi. We have not built this yet, but we will if our campaign goes to $100K. We think it will retail around $35 or so but we're not sure.
$100K - Windows Phone App
We know we will build IOS and Android, but Windows is next! In addition to the option to buy a wifi monitor - you will be able to run Myphone thermometer on your Windows phone.
Who Are You Guys???
System D – our Kickstarter Company
System D is a phoenix, rising from the ashes of several small companies that made products for other people. Myphone Thermometer is our first venture.
Fred Vreeman – Project Creator - Alaska
Fred is an engineering manager working as an environmental engineer and scientist in Fairbanks, Alaska. Fred hasn’t given up his day job yet but he spends a lot of his spare time down at the shop in California.
Dale Constuble – Moldmaker, Molder, and Manufacturing Supervisor - California
Dale manages the shop operations in California. He has been featured on several Kickstarter videos as the guy who can get things done on a project.
Ari Cotton – Software Engineer – South Africa
Ari has been working as a software engineer since 1994.He is excited to offer his talents to the team at System D so that we can create the best thermometer with great web integration.
Risks and challenges
Technical challenges have mostly been met, but we haven't got the temperature errors accounted for yet in our software. Mostly this is done by writing filtering algorithms to develop average readings, and filtering out the "noise". Well - it is a headphone jack, and it produces lots of "noise"! It isn't as easy as a regular stable voltage power supply. We will take Kickstarter along each step of the way as we solve the technical issues.
The second challenge is to package all of the electronics into a small injection molded package. We did this with Mr. Ghost, but this one is even smaller! There are about 9 solder joints that will have to withstand the injection molding process and if we use the mic voltage we'll need a few ICs on a PCB board. We already have experience with high temperature solders, lower temperature regions in themolding, and all of those other tricks, but you never know until you start molding if you got it all right!
The third challenge is selling enough of them. We are offering these to Kickstarter at a low price to get the molds and development paid for - then using a lot of our labor to make the first thousand. If we hit our stretch goals of $50K, $75K, and $100K this won't be as much of a problem, but if not we'll just be producing a low volume run of a thousand units for Kickstarter and, sadly, the project would end there (sad face).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)