News: Progress and plans
As I’ve been reminded by messages from some of you, it’s been too long since we let you know our progress and plans. So here’s the update.
Over the last few months we’ve been very busy with the boring detailed stuff – testing, redesigning, more testing, more redesigning. No big break throughs, just lots of careful testing and incremental changes to prototypes. Development of our tiny force sensor for use inside the cleat has gone well, and we think we have a good simple design whose behaviour we understand thoroughly. The mathematical processing algorithm, for turning sensor values into cadence, torque and power, is under constant revision as we seek to make it work better under all sorts of strange conditions.
The most important (and most fun) part of the algorithm is taking the accelerometer data and using it to work out cadence, crank angle and pedal angle at each sample point. This is the same kind of technology that allows a Wii control or an iPhone to detect movements, but we need to use it to measure complex rotational movements very accurately. Having the accelerometer attached to the cleat/shoe (which rocks back and forth by an unpredictable amount all the time) makes this a lot more complex than, say, having the accelerometer fixed inside the pedal spindle. But if we did that then you wouldn’t be able to just step off one bike and onto another and have the power meter come with you…
The algorithm is very complex, but it’s what makes our bike-independent power meter possible. It also gives us extra data for you to work with, beyond cadence, torque and power. For example, it means we can measure your pedal angle (deviation from horizontal) all the way around each crank revolution, something that no other system can do outside a lab. This information will not be available on our first product version, but it will be available on a more advanced future version.
We’ve also been doing a lot of work on the business end of the project, finalising plans for getting from development to product launch and talking to people who can help us implement those plans. For the last two years (has it really been that long?) we’ve been growing the project with very limited resources, but now the time has come to move up a gear or two. Over the next few months we will be taking on a small number of staff, mostly technical, and preparing for production and support.
So, I hear you ask (as so many have before you), when will the power meter be available? Up to now we’ve been very reluctant to commit to a date, because we don’t want to make promises we aren’t certain we will be able to stick to. We’ve seen other startup companies in this business move their announced launch dates back and back again, and we know that as engineers we’re programmed to be hopelessly optimistic (if we weren’t I don’t think we’d be doing this at all!). However, I can tell you that on our current schedule the launch date is September this year. That assumes a number of things fall right way up for us, but it is a realistic date. We will be selling the power meter right here, off our own website. I can’t give you a price yet, or commit to product specifications, just the general “comparable to existing systems” that we’ve stated before. Once again we’re being careful not to make promises until we know we can keep them. We’ll publish more details as we move towards production and launch.
One last thing: lately we’ve been thinking about a name for our power meter. “The Brim Brothers power meter” doesn’t quite cut it, so we’re looking for something with a bit of zip to it. We’ve thrown around a few ideas amongst ourselves, but we’d like to hear any suggestions you might have.