We work with clients in a wide variety of industries whose needs for electronic enclosures vary dramatically. One client may need a rugged tag enclosure that will be placed on a miner’s helmet and bashed into rock ceilings, while another may want an aesthetically pleasing device to be carried around a museum. Our mechanical engineers are able to achieve these drastically different design parameters through the use of injection-molded plastic.
We spend quite a bit of time working with our clients to determine how a product will be used and what it should look like. A handheld device, used by a human, will look and feel very different than a box mounted to a machine. Defining how a product will be used allows our team to create a shape and select materials that will work well for the application.
A key element of defining how the product will be used is determining the environment it will be used in. Environmental factors play a huge role in product design. Devices that operate outdoors in the sun and rain have very different requirements than devices that remain indoors. Researching and selecting appropriate materials is necessary to prevent products from getting brittle when exposed to cold, or melting in excessive heat. Additionally, the electrical design can often produce heat internally requiring venting in the enclosure that will allow heat to escape or a fan to actively exchange air. Injection molding allows us to both choose appropriate materials and provide mechanical features, such as venting, that meet the needs of the environment.
“There are so many factors that go into the process. We can’t just make a design as strong, pretty, or environmentally rugged as possible. Finding a balance of all of those elements is key.”
There are many other factors that go into the design of a product enclosure. The overall aesthetics of the product come into play if it will be publicly viewed by a large number of customers. Oftentimes, keeping the internal electronic components safe influences the outer appearance. We have to ensure that the electrical components and memory cards are well-supported. If LEDs are used to communicate information, we have to ensure that the light is visible. If there are requirements for a watertight device, we face the challenge of sealing power and other connections from water damage. There are so many factors that go into the process. We can’t just make a design as strong, pretty, or environmentally rugged as possible. Finding a balance of all of those elements is key.
We take the use case and environmental elements into consideration as we brainstorm and sketch out ideas into a design concept. That concept is then rendered using CAD software where we begin to form the final shape of the product. The process requires constant communication with the electrical engineers to ensure we meet their requirements for board mounting and spacing. It also requires frequent communications with clients and users to ensure we meet requirements. The design is iterated and improved as the ability to visualize the design can expose issues that are difficult, or impossible, to conceptualize.
We often go through multiple iterations before creating a 3D printed version. Printing gives us the best look at how the parts will perform. Even after we have created the initial 3D prototype, we continue to iterate and refine the product until it meets the design requirements.
Injection-molded plastics are a cost-effective way to meet the requirements (shape and size, mounting, materials, etc) of a design. Clients can create a shape that would be very expensive to create using other technologies often building thousands of pieces for pennies. Injection molding is a valuable and efficient option with a high degree of repeatability that produces a more reliable product than 3D printing or CNC machining.
At Ciholas, we have extensive experience in RF Antenna Development which allows us to easily determine what types of antennas we need for specific applications. Throughout the years, we have designed and tested almost all of the antennas that we have used, especially for our UWB products.
Choosing the correct antenna depends on the application. In most cases, the best antenna is one that efficiently radiates the most energy in every direction, while remaining cost-effective and compact in size. One key point is how well the antenna performs in each direction. We have designed and built our own antenna positioner, which allows us to position the antenna in every orientation and measure the overall performance. Another important aspect is overall efficiency, which is generally measured through distance.
“Our extensive expertise and experience in RF antenna development really sets us apart and allows us to provide our clients with efficient, high-quality designs that fit their specific needs.”
The majority of what we do is very specific and involves numerous variables that we have to consider, such as size or battery life. Our expertise lies in our ability to adapt our devices to fit each application and understand which aspects of antenna design are important for achieving the best performance.
Our DWTAG is a great example of our ability to get the best performance from a small device. We do a lot of out of the box thinking and put a lot of effort into finding the right antenna, design, and orientation. Time is also invested in researching materials and discovering new ways to push the boundaries of what we can do to exceed the expectations we have set.
The majority of the antennas that we have done throughout the years have been either in the 2.4 GHz ISM band or the UWB region. Both of these antennas require an understanding of the requirements of the application and the user; however, in the 2.4 GHz space, there are a lot more components available off the shelf due to smartphones requiring 2.4 GHz performance. These types of antennas are more straightforward and commonly understood.
We have also done a large amount of antenna design within UWB as well. This new market has been emerging over the past few years and is starting to become more common. With an increase in commercial development, we have found ourselves at the forefront of the market. Our extensive expertise and experience in RF antenna development really sets us apart and allows us to provide our clients with efficient, high-quality designs to fit their specific needs.
The Ciholas CUWB system is designed to allow users across a variety of industries to take advantage of high performance real-time location. Our system provides users with robust, configurable, and scalable location data to fit the needs of their application. Whether an application demands a small number of anchors with extremely high locate rates (up to 6000 locates per second), or a large number of anchors spread across an extremely large area, we have the right tools and capabilities.
“We make a robust system that our clients in all industries can count on.
Our users are able to configure features of the CUWB system for their specific needs. Configurable options include access to a variety of sensors with the tag including: 9-axis motion sensing (accelerometer, gyro, and magnetometer), pressure sensing, as well as temperature and humidity. This entire suite of sensors is available to our users out of the box, allowing them to leverage the data for their application.
Another aspect of our system is a feature we call “user data.” Often we find that users have their own devices that they would like to track around a given area. Our DWTAG provides a USB port users can plug into allowing data to be sent back and forth between their devices and our network. The USB connection can also be used to deliver position data to the connected device allowing the tracked device to have awareness of its location.
Historically, Ciholas has been a contract engineering invention firm. We invent things for people. Clients may have other things that they need to do outside ofUWB that we can help them with, such as custom electronics, high tech devices, cloud servers, IOT, and web server integration. We can provide full engineering breadth all the way from the raw physics of the signal to the application layer in cloud.
The robustness, experience, and deployment level of our technology allows us to view and develop our technology that isn’t toy-like. We have worked in a variety of industries, creating safety equipment underground, working in robotics for land-based vehicles, and creating ethernet switches for objects that are floating in space. We make robust systems that our clients in all industries can count on.
Have you ever been amazed at how your GPS is able to accurately route you from home to grandma’s house miles away? The advent of GPS technology changed the world we live in. It enabled applications that the inventors of GPS never dreamed about. At Ciholas, we are working with Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology to build real-time location systems (RTLS) that provide location to applications that need more precision than GPS. We believe that UWB based RTLS systems will be as transformative to indoor navigation as GPS was to outdoor navigation.
We have been involved with UWB technology for more than seven years and have watched the technology grow from early applications into the viable technology it is today. When Decawave introduced their DW1000 IC, commoditizing UWB, we knew that we would be able to leverage the chip to develop high performance RTLS systems. Our history and exposure to tracking technologies over the years provided an inherent sense for what an RTLS system built on UWB could be.
Over the years, our UWB and RTLS toolbox has grown to include a large set of distinguishing features and capabilities. The CUWB system offers a variety of different algorithms, firmware, circuits, and antennas. This toolbox, paired with our experience operating in a wide variety of industries, allows us to create unique RTLS solutions that meet the needs of our clients.
It is impossible to build a generic set of UWB equipment to satisfy the array of unique applications. The off-the-shelf CUWB system encompasses a generic set of capabilities that our clients have used primarily as a technology demonstrator. Once a potential client has had exposure to the CUWB system, with its underlying features, they will often ask us to extend the technology to fit their application.
Some clients are looking for high performance, some are interested in battery life that lasts for years, and others might be focused on ruggedness or low cost. To meet these needs, our services extend to feasibility assessments of UWB for client applications. Our engineers’ experience with UWB allows them to predict system performance under various conditions. This experience can help clients to understand the viability of the technology for their application before they make a significant investment in UWB research and development.
Ciholas’ ability to customize our technology for different applications is a unique and distinctive feature. We help clients take their applications to the next level.
What Sets Us Apart?
Ciholas’ CUWB Technology In Action.
The first step to successfully implementing the CUWB location system is understanding the tracking area in planning anchor locations. Survey accuracy is critical to the performance of the system. Any inaccuracies in the location anchors will be realized in the output location calculations.
Another aspect to keep in mind when planning anchor locations, is the line of sight between the tracking area and the anchors. It’s important that the anchors maintain line of sight as much as possible with the tracking area to produce accurate location data. Tripods are often used as a temporary installation solution, when ceiling mounting is unavailable.
It’s important to keep line of sight visibility from the tracking area to the anchors. Turn left, turn around, turn right, turn left, turn left, turn around. The CUWB system is a complete real-time location solution for your needs.
At Ciholas, We fill the gap from chip to app.
An Interesting project we’ve done is the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. This museum is four hundred and thirty thousand square feet of space that is covered by our system. It’s a very large scale, to single largest installation of UWB-tracking in North America currently. The design process for them was a complete cycle, starting for early conceptual designs, through prototyping phases, and definitely iteration back and forth with them improving the design.
There were several different stages that we went through. Early stages obviously involved a lot of software. From there we researched different ways of holding the device, whether it be a lanyard or straps. From there, we designed an enclosure for the device with the user interface in mind. The Museum opened in November of 2017, and since that time we’ve maintained a presence on site and remotely, troubleshooting any problems that might arise.
At Ciholas, we’ve developed an ultra-wideband system called CUWB.
This system is now being licensed by companies all over the world in their particular applications, from medical, to livestock, to forklifts, to tracking athletes, to tracking drones, and so forth.
When a tag is being located by anchors, line-of-sight is required to use the over-the-air timing information between the radios.
If a human body for instance, gets in the way, our system is capable of identifying the problem and weighting that information out of the location calculations to ensure accuracy.
Ciholas’ Ultra-wideband system is superior in a few ways in that the amount of locations per second that we can get is much higher than some of the competing sources.