ByteSnap Design, an electronics design consultancy, has scooped a top industry award for providing both electronics design and software expertise for smart home security device Cocoon.
ByteSnap is now the BEEA Design Team of the Year 2016. Its client Cocoon is a technology company transforming the home security market by designing beautiful products that help people feel safe. Cocoon won silver at the 2014 London Design awards and recently secured a £2 million investment from Aviva Ventures and Breed Reply Investments.
Features of the innovative smart home security system include device side encryption and unique SUBSOUND technology to sense activity throughout a home. It even detects intruders through closed doors.
Judges at the prestigious British Engineering Excellence Awards commented on selecting ByteSnap Design, the Longbridge Technology Park based company, as the overall winner: “In a fiercely contested category the judges awarded the top prize to ByteSnap and Cocoon for a tight, well-scheduled design team with clearly outlined job descriptions and the expertise needed to deliver the design on time.”
Cocoon enlisted ByteSnap Design as experts in both electronics design and software on embedded platforms.
Following an extensive investigation into the various system on chips (SoC) on the market, Cocoon’s in-house specialists chose NXP/Freescale iMX6 for its availability and technical support. ByteSnap was brought in to develop the electronics and Linux board support package (BSP) laying the foundation for Cocoon’s security application.
The design had to meet demanding video, Wi-Fi and audio performance targets at a commercial price point and was mechanically tightly constrained and atheistically pleasing without sacrificing performance. What made this product particularly difficult was the shape, being circular and packing significant hardware onto the PCBs requires careful consideration. Management of MCAD to ECAD data was critical in the success of the design and having engineers who appreciate not just their own core skills but have broad appreciation of all product aspects helped in the development.
An entire PCB was dedicated to all the sensors and transducers in the product. The hardware behind the SUBSOUND technology required several iterations until finally giving excellent performance. Moving the sensitive analogue design away from the high performance digital section proved essential.
With application software and aesthetic design managed by Cocoon, ByteSnap initially developed a prototype sensor board that interfaced directly to an off-the-shelf iMX6 development board. This allowed ByteSnap’s software team to develop the BSP, and Cocoon’s application team to progress application work, without having to wait for the bespoke electronics to be ready. It also flushed out some early technical issues, saving time at the product development stage. As the Linux BSP progressed, code was made available and test software written to exercise the whole system from drivers through to hardware.
Once the sensor board had been tested and software work was underway, ByteSnap designed the production sensor PCB and CPU board, a dense, high speed digital, PCB design involving DDR, EMMc, power and Wi-Fi.
Cocoon used a camera specialist to develop the camera PCB and optics, in parallel to ByteSnap’s development. Communications were key at this point to ensure the PCBs successfully transferred high speed camera MIPI data. ByteSnap choose the connectors and performed all the high speed calculation for the PCB’s.
As Wi-Fi performance was a major challenge, ByteSnap carefully choose a Wi-Fi module that not only had performance but great support. By working closely with the Taiwanese module vendor, ByteSnap was able to improve the drivers and RF performance of the Wi-Fi chip, and ultimately the wireless data rate in real life environments.
The product has to pass CE, FCC and R&TTE without a conductive case to help shield the electronics. ByteSnap had this in mind from the start and by identifying highest risk circuits on the design, ByteSnap put in provisions in case things didn’t work out at the test chamber.
“We are very pleased with ByteSnap Design,” said Dan Conlon, who leads on product management at Cocoon. “Their expertise helped us bring our product to market in a short time frame, and we have no doubts about using them again.”