The Blog

Designing a Health Monitoring Device

in Electronic Design Services, Product Design, Production

Case_Study_Health_Monitoring_Device_Banner_600pxAn Inside Look at Product Redesign

A Nuvation Engineering client in the tele-health industry was seeking assistance upgrading a health monitoring device used by patients who are managing their care at home. The device collects data from various personal health monitoring devices (PHM) and uploads it to a central monitoring station manned by live agents. The client was primarily a health monitoring services provider and developing electronic devices was not their core business.

They needed the assistance of an engineering firm that could:

  • Work with an RFP that was based on functional requirements and not complex technical specifications
  • Provide up-front visibility of the entire project effort and costs from initial design to market-ready product
  • Possess the diverse skill sets needed to execute both software and hardware development
  • Manage all the complexities of medical and electronic device product testing and regulatory certification
  • Manage the project until ready-to-ship products were rolling off the production line
Personal Health Monitoring Device Network

The new device would collect health information via USB and Bluetooth from multiple PHM devices simultaneously and upload this data to the cloud. Home-based patients’ heath would be monitored at a central monitoring station by live agents who would send help in an emergency.

The current device was several years old and some components had reached parts obsolescence. The device could also only support a single PHM device and needed to support multiple devices simultaneously. Support also needed to be added for newer communication technologies since the device was currently limited to plain old telephone service (POTS) as the only mode of data transfer to the cloud. Read More

An Angry Moose in Silicon Valley

in FPGA Design Services, Garage, Product Design

Nuvation Ports Angry Moose to a Cyclone V FPGA

Angry Moose is Nuvation’s Canadian version of Angry Birds, but we chose the real world instead of a video game as the best place to play – with a real catapult, and real animals (okay, real stuffed toy animals). Instead of tossing birds into blocks, we catapult beavers (what else eh?) through beer cans to knock down the forest critters who stole our Moose’s beer (which made him angry…). We 3D-printed the catapult, created an iPad GUI, and run the catapult’s motor controls with an Altera Cyclone V SoC FPGA.

This Fall Nuvation brought Angry Moose to the Altera SoC FPGA Developer Forum (ASDF) in Santa Clara, CA. Check out this video of Nuvation CEO Michael Worry explaining Angry Moose while some people play the game.

Angry Moose LogoAngry Moose Live Demonstration Video Read More

Best Practices for Internet of Things (IoT) Designs

in Electronic Design Services, Product Design

For Internet of Things (IoT) sensor networks, Nuvation offers a comprehensive suite of engineering services ranging from architecture design to product development and manufacturing. When designing these solutions, there are some common design challenges that we’ve come across:

Water Leak Detection System

Nuvation designed an ultra-low noise, high-sensitivity acoustic monitoring sensor inside a low power and small form factor design for a Water Leak Detection System.

  • Low-power design / longer battery life – As IoT infrastructure becomes ubiquitous many use-cases require designing and building low power, low bandwidth, and small form factor IoT sensors and networks. Customers frequently challenge us to deliver longer battery life in ever smaller form factors, with lower volume manufacturing unit costs.
  • Low noise thresholds in small form factors – Many advanced sensors require a low or ultra-low noise floor. This creates an interesting challenge since traditional low noise design approaches cannot be used in a design with requirements for both low-power and a small form-factor. As the power consumption is reduced and the circuit impedance rises, the amount of noise generated thermally in the system increases.
  • Low cost/low power wireless communication – When dealing with multiple sensors in an industrial installation, cost per sensor is a key factor in sensor design. Wi-Fi is often rejected as it is not only expensive per sensor but also not suitable for large facilities with potential radio-interfering obstacles like multiple floors, concrete, and steel beams. Cellular is cost prohibitive due to the high fixed cellular modem costs plus high variable monthly cellular subscription costs with a cellular carrier.  Bluetooth often doesn’t meet range requirements. Besides the cost considerations, the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band is a power hungry and congested band of spectrum that is sensitive to interference from other systems and emissions.

Solving these challenges has required some innovative thinking. What we’ve learned along the way has made its way into our handbook of best practices.

Here are some best practices we have learned with respect to:

  • Low-power design / longer battery life
  • Low noise thresholds in small form factors
  • Low cost/low power wireless communication

Read More

Keggy the Autonomous Beer Keg

in Autonomous Vehicles, Battery Management System, Electric Vehicles, Electronic Design Services, Power Supply Design, Product Design

Nuvation is building an autonomous beer serving kegerator robot, because we like having great conversations at parties without the constant interruption of going to get a refill. When this after-hours engineering design project is complete, you will be able to wave “Keggy” over and pour yourself a beer from your choice from two on-board half-kegs.

Autonomous Kegerator Concept Drawing

Note Nuvation BMS prominently displayed on the front, just underneath the Microsoft Xbox Kinect One and LCD screen. We’ll have two 5G tanks of beer on board. 6kwhr battery. 12HP of motors. The battery is over-sized for the application – 6kwhr is a quarter of a Nissan Leaf battery and will drive a car 70 miles with the A/C on.

Read More

Wearable Personal Assault Deterrent

in Community, Electronic Design Services, Manufacturing, News, Product Design, Production, Video

Nuvation Engineering has been working with Tiger Eye Sensor to deliver a wearable security sensor that will help deter assaults and bring perpetrators to justice. The product is targeted to individuals who need to be in situations where they could be a potential target for criminals. Examples of potential scenarios include being out alone at night or in places where there are not many people nearby. Nuvation is very proud to be a part of this electronic product development project because of its potential to help make people safer in their communities.

One of the most sophisticated devices ever to enter the burgeoning personal security marketplace, TESS is a small, hands-free, wearable personal security device that activates when the wearer calls out for help, connecting with a live operator who warns the perpetrator to leave the scene and summons police to the user’s GPS location. At the same time, TESS illuminates the area and begins recording events to help identify and prosecute an assailant through photographic images and audio recordings which are sent to the cloud.

“TESS addresses a potential multi-billion dollar market and its production is being driven by a phenomenal and passionate executive team,” said Michael Worry, Nuvation CEO.

Worry explained that his excitement at helping to bring TESS to market goes beyond the financial opportunity. “As an engineer and father of two daughters, I think we have a duty to use technology to protect our families and gather evidence against those who think they can get away with illegal and immoral crimes,” he said.

Press Links:

Atmel “Tech on Tour” Big Rig Visits Waterloo

in Community, Electronic Design Services, Garage, Manufacturing, News, Product Design

Invitation to Waterloo Innovators

Tuesday May 26, 2015 9:00am-11:00am

Parking Lot of the Flying Dog Restaurant / Pearl Nightclub

341 Marsland Drive, Waterloo, Ontario

Atmel Tech Tour Big Rig Truck

Atmel is parking their “Tech on Tour Big Rig” across the street from Nuvation Engineering (our parking lot wasn’t big enough, this thing is huge!) on Tuesday May 26. Drop by to see their transformer truck and to check out next-generation tech powered by Atmel chips!Atmel_Big_Rig_Interior

Demos in the rig will include a Smart Watch, GPS Watch, Hand Drill, Wireless Gaming Headset, 3D Printer, IoT Thermostat, Wireless Keyboard...

Technology innovators who want to see the latest and coolest electronic inventions driven by Atmel products, talk about tech with fellow engineers, and get design ideas for their next killer-device are invited to drop by for this catered and caffeinated event. Read More

“Autobox” Hardware Testing Tool

in Electronic Design Services, Garage, Production

A Flexible, Scriptable Hardware Testing Platform

Have you ever needed to power cycle your hardware remotely? Have you ever wanted to read several different voltage levels remotely? Do you want the ability to remotely control AC outlets? How about toggling events using GPIO remotely? Do you want to talk to a device via I2C remotely? By now you probably guessed that the “you” I am talking to is a fellow electronic engineer; challenges like these are the sorts of things that keep us awake nights! Tired of all those sleepless nights, and unable to find a truly versatile off-the-shelf solution, I created The “Autobox” in my home lab. It currently provides all of this functionality…with more to come!

“Autobox,” which I’m pleased to say now has a home at Nuvation’s hardware testing lab, is used to aid in software development, automated testing, and hardware bring up. It is remotely configured and operated using either a Linux shell or an HTML interface and has proven itself to be a powerful development tool.

Side of box, I/O: Fused A/C Power Input. Click to Enlarge

Autobox runs Linux on a Raspberry Pi single board computer and has two “Microchip MCP3424” ADCs installed, which provide a total of 8 channels of up to 18-bit resolution. This is especially convenient when data logging, checking on power-rails, etc. It also has 8 buffered GPIO’s which aid in controlling external events, and has two independently fused AC buses . Each AC bus powers four AC outlets which are independently controlled by “OMRON G8P-1A2T-F-DC12” relays. Read More

Nuvation Auto-Pilot in Peterbilt Truck

in Autonomous Vehicles, Electric Vehicles, Electronic Design Services, News, Product Design, Production

Driver-Assist IP Demonstrated at ITS Word Congress

Over the past several years autonomous vehicle technology has been undergoing significant advancements. With commercial applications becoming increasingly more viable, most automotive manufacturers have products on the horizon that target the autonomous vehicle space. Peterbilt Motors is no exception.

In 2014, Peterbilt partnered with Nuvation to produce an autonomous vehicle demonstration for the 2014 ITS World Congress in Detroit. The demonstration involved retrofitting a Peterbilt Model 579 tractor with an auto-pilot that would control the truck’s braking, steering, and acceleration in order to drive a waypoint-based route.

Peterbilt Model 979 tractor

With only two months remaining before the show Peterbilt asked Nuvation to integrate our autonomous vehicle IP into one of their trucks to meet their deadline. Nuvation has been working on autonomous vehicle technologies for several years, using Discofish as a real-world test platform, and we were confident we could automate a Peterbilt truck in 8 weeks – and we did! Read More

Next Generation FPGAs Address Demands of the Zettabyte Era

in Electronic Design Services, FPGA Design Services, Product Design


Electronic Design Example: FDR InfiniBand PCIe Card

Nuvation developed this Xilinx Virtex-7 driven FDR InfiniBand adapter card for a broadcast video server.

Global IP traffic has been significantly increasing over the last few years and is anticipated to continue to increase into the future. Here are a few highlights from Cisco’s VNI June 2014 report

  • Annual global IP traffic will pass the zettabyte threshold by the end of 2016 and will reach 1.6 zettabytes per year by 2018
  • Global IP traffic has increased fivefold over the past 5 years and will increase threefold over the next 5 years
  • Over half of all IP traffic will originate with non-PC devices by 2018
  • Traffic from wireless and mobile devices will exceed traffic from wired devices by 2016
  • Broadband speed will nearly triple by 2018 compared with 2013 speeds
  • Globally, IP video traffic will be 79 percent of all IP traffic by 2018
  • Globally, mobile data traffic will increase 11-fold between 2013 and 2018
  • Global mobile data traffic will grow three times faster than fixed IP traffic from 2013 to 2018

These trends point to the need for significant improvements in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector infrastructure in order to support the demand for IP traffic. The trend towards mobile devices and increases in broadband speeds will require performance improvements throughout the ICT infrastructure. These market demands require faster high-speed serial interfaces to transfer data between nodes as well as faster and deeper memory interfaces for data buffering. Furthermore, these performance increases must occur without increasing power consumption. Fortunately, today’s next-gen FPGA devices have risen to these challenges.
Read More

FPGA Design Tip: How to Automatically Identify Your Build Time/Date

in FPGA Design Services

This Nuvation-developed Altera Cyclone IV based high-speed HD camera transmits HD-SDI 1080P video and provides advanced real-time on-camera video processing using a symmetrical multi-processor environment.

FPGA engineers tend to compile a lot of images, fixing this, testing that. With multiple bitstreams being loaded during system integration, it can be confusing as to which gateware (what I like to call “FPGA source code”) revision is the working image and which image is actually in the part.

Including a software-accessible, read-only register containing the date and time the FPGA was compiled is a great way for software to query the FPGA to see which gateware revision is currently in the part. The only problem is that when this value is hard coded, we designers sometimes forget to update it which can cause confusion, or even the wrong software to be used.
Read More