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Sigsense is Making Interchangeable, Modular Sensors (Video) 21

Posted by Roblimo
from the someday-will-we-be-as-interchangeable-as-our-tools? dept.
Their main claim: "Sigsense Sensors are field-switchable sensing modules which replace the current generation of single purpose instruments. All Sigsense Sensors connect to the Sigsense Wireless Dock through a common interface. This portability and convenience allows workers to always carry the right instrument for the job." In other words, a technician in a food manufacturing plant doesn't need to carry a humidity-measuring tool, a multimeter, a signal strength meter, and four or five other measuring tools, to the point where he's got a backpack full of instrumentation or a rolling a cart full of measuring devices. That technician can now (in theory) carry a single, wireless sensor body, and put the sensors he needs on it as easily as you change heads on an electric hair trimmer. Check their blurb on AngelList for more about what this company is up to, and note that they are going way beyond making one measurement at a time. They're talking about collecting instrument data, along with tracking technicians, and sending all this data to the cloud, where you can do with it as you wish. But not today. The website says they will have products available "soon." (Alternate Video Link)

Tim: Nick, what is that Sigsense does?

Nick: So Sigsense technology is a connected smart test and measurement company. So we’re making test and measurement equipment that allows enterprises to have connectivity down to the sensing elements that they’re using to do their day-to-day jobs.

Tim: Now, let’s put that in real world terms, what does that mean?

Nick: So it means that there are – in the world today there are people out in the world taking measurements, they’re using multimeters, they’re using thermal imagers, they’re out there doing jobs, maintaining and installing equipments, and a lot of these equipment isn’t connected to the internet. And so what that means is that you have people taking measurements and when they need to do something with that data, they are writing things down on pen and paper, they’re going home and writing reports, they’re sitting in a truck and writing reports and if you want to have a chain of custody on to that data or if you want to be able to do analytics based on the data, analyze how your workforce is doing, it’s very difficult or impossible.

Tim: So how do you short circuit that paper support start?

Nick: Yeah. So our solution is all about connectivity, so we’re creating a connected test and measurement platform, here’s a prototype of it right here. And so the idea is that this is your test device, this connects to your cellphone over Bluetooth, so device you already have and once you are in a cellphone you have card connectivity and we can push all of the connectivity services that enterprises and people care about to do automatic data, archiving of sensor data, so taking it, enable infield collaboration of teams out in the field working.

Tim: So I think this is kind of a working model or say a work in progress, and the actual container is for batteries and what else?

Nick: Yeah. So in here, we’re keeping it real simple, so it’s actually mostly battery, it’s a Bluetooth linked to your phone and it’s a little bit of computing electronics to handle that link, we have as minimal a user interface on this as we think we can get away with, so we have a button to take measurements and to do pairing and stuff and we’ll have a small but very beautiful OLED display to monitor what sensor you have connected, see a little bit of the measurement information, but really push that user interface on to the mobile device.

Tim: Yeah, talk about the sensors, let’s get into that.

Nick: Yeah.

Tim: What sort of things do you anticipate would match for this?

Nick: Yeah. So our first sensor that we’re designing is a thermal imager, it’s gone to sleep on me; I forgot your password, I’ll let my assistant know that....

Tim: So what are some of the actual sensors, what sort of capabilities do you see being attached to this?

Nick: Yeah, so we’ve really architected our system to be modular, and so we can support multiple sensors going forward, but the first one that we’ve designed and that we’re going for to market with is our thermal imager. So you can see an example right here. This is what we’re currently working to integrate into this module. It’s the same size. And so thermal imager, it gives you a heat image. One of the reasons we’ve chosen is that it’s used by everyone, so HVAC people use it to troubleshoot and install heating and air conditioning systems, leak detection firms use it to find water leaks behind walls that you can’t see, manufacturing lines use it troubleshoot mechanical systems that might have heat related failures like motors or any of that stuff. So this is our first product and then we’re evaluating and prioritizing other sensors, so we envisioned multimeters, electrical testers, gas sensors, whatever our initial customers really are asking for.

Tim: What will it cost?

Nick: Pardon?

Tim: What will it cost?

Nick: So our initial price target is around $1,000 for this and that’s really cost competitive for thermal imagers in the market, and the real benefit is that total cost of ownership really starts plummeting due to the modularity, so if you spend around $1,000 for a thermal imager and then in year two we come out with a suite of gas sensors or a multimeter, you’re only buying the sensing component, because we’ve already bundled your user interface and everything into these docks that you already have. So total cost of ownership for an individual or enterprise is going to be significantly less based on the equipment there you have.

Tim: Can I ask you one more question about the UI?

Nick: Yeah.

Tim: Since what you got here is a handle with battery and transmitter.

Nick: Yeah.

Tim: And you’re attaching the sort of anonymous looking sensor units.

Nick: Yeah.

Tim: People who are used to using let’s say a multimeter... how will you get people to actually operate it and meet with all the muscle memory that got built out?

Nick: Yeah, so that one is very dependent on the type of sensor that we’re talking about and that’s something that we really want to respect is that people have a long history with these test and measurement devices, whether you’re using a multimeter and you’ve been using it for 20 years, or you’ve been using thermal imagers for five years or gas sensors. That stuff will go into our user interface design both in the app and then in the cloud to view the data, just respecting that lineage of these devices and not making it difficult for people to jump to based on their experience.

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Sigsense is Making Interchangeable, Modular Sensors (Video)

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