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.

What is firmware, and why is firmware development important at Ciholas?

Basically firmware is software that is written to run on hardware. It’s the code that makes the low-level hardware do the things it does; like turning on an LED, read a sensor, or send a transmission. Most electronic devices that we use on a daily basis have a small microcontroller to operate the hardware and that microcontroller runs the code, or firmware, necessary to make the device operate.

Pretty much everything we develop at Ciholas has a brain, or a small microcontroller. It is critical that we have a strong firmware development team at Ciholas in order to not just make the hardware work, but make it not fail.

Do all devices require a processor with firmware?

While it is possible to create complex devices purely in hardware, it is often more cost-effective to include a processor in the design, enabling features and flexibility. There is an integral relationship between hardware and firmware. We write firmware for nearly every project we do, and our team understands how to use firmware to achieve efficiency, lower cost, and increase longevity.

Is the firmware the same on all devices or does it change based on the design?

The firmware changes based on processor selection and the requirements of the design. When working with embedded electronics the selection of the processor isn’t always based on the latest and best tech. It depends on available peripherals, low power capabilities, overall cost, and many other factors.

Changing processors between designs does present challenges to our firmware team. We have a lot of experience porting firmware written for one processor to the next. Our higher-level application pieces are written with layers of abstraction to make them portable. We are always ready to adapt.

I’ve heard you say, “Don’t just make it work, make it not fail,” in reference to firmware. What does this phrase mean to the Ciholas team?

We aim to not only complete the task in front of us, but to approach it from all possible boundary cases and angles to try and break it. We want to be efficient in our testing so that we are confident the final product will not fail. There are going to be things that we don’t foresee, but we use our experience to avoid potential pitfalls.

To increase confidence in our products, we write tests to evaluate our software. Our tests describe what our software should be doing, allowing us to catch behavior changes that take place as we add features. Test driven development can be difficult in firmware, because it is very human driven. Unfortunately, making firmware not fail often comes down to timing and context specific bugs that we cannot develop tests for. These challenges require an experienced engineer to identify and overcome obstacles preemptively.

What experience does Ciholas have with firmware?

Ciholas originally started with a focus on hardware. We provided hardware for multiple companies and we also provided basic software to operate and prove that the hardware worked. Over time we have taken on more full-product software development and provide it as a service that we have offered for almost 15 years now. We have experience writing firmware for designs in multiple industries for things such as safety equipment in coal mining, sports timing and tracking, inventory tracking, health industries, and entertainment.

What is the future of firmware?

Firmware is always changing and evolving. We are consistently seeing cheaper, faster, and smaller processors with more features that weren’t available before. Possibilities open up with more memory and faster speeds. We strive to stay ahead of the game and use all available resources.

There are definitely times when it is easier and more cost effective to use a bigger, faster processor. But, there will always be a need to optimize the firmware to operate efficiently. That is where experienced firmware engineers come in and that is what sets us apart from other companies. While a lot of what we do can be done by others, we take it to the next level with regard to performance and robustness.

Computer vision is an emerging technology that is quickly becoming part of our everyday life. Complex vision systems in use today include robotic manufacturing, license plate readers, facial recognition, and much more. And there are exciting new possibilities headed our way such as self-driving cars, refrigerators that restock themselves and advanced medical diagnostic imaging.

“The number of applications made possible by computer vision seems to grow more and more each day.” says Evan Hallam, Senior Computer Engineer.

In some cases, computer vision may be the only way to solve certain problems, but it can be difficult to integrate into some applications. We can create imaging devices that act as a brain translating images into 1s and 0s. A computer can then utilize this image representation to perform a task. It’s easy to think of computer vision as a single technology that can be dropped into place to solve a complex problem, but the reality is that each application is different.

“By providing capabilities such as locating, tracking, and identifying an object, computer vision enables new categories of products that were not possible or economically feasible before,” says Master Software Engineer Herb Hollinger. “Things like self-driving cars are designed with this application in mind.”

One of Ciholas’ areas of expertise is selecting the right sensor to get the right image at the right speed. Not all vision systems are created equal and each solution has a unique set of requirements. We have developed complex high-speed camera systems for sporting events that require extremely high frame rates, but don’t necessarily require complex AI to interpret images. Those systems are very different than consumer-grade products we have developed with low price points that need AI, but can operate with inexpensive image sensors and low frame rates.

Our experience and expertise in the field of computer vision has allowed us to realize products in a variety of applications. We anticipate this technology will continue to grow and become an even larger part of our everyday life. If you would like more information about our computer vision technology experience, contact us at info@ciholas.com.

To us, engineering is a social exercise. “We have to listen to our client’s needs and then carefully explain what we have done for them. If we can’t do either of those things, what we do in the middle doesn’t matter,” says president, Mike Ciholas.

Our engineers work together on projects using their field expertise to maximize our chances of creating or improving a product.

“When we have a team working on a project, it’s usually a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, a software engineer, and a project manager. The easy and agile interactions between our engineers help us to solve problems,” Ciholas says.

Our team recognizes that, sometimes, an electrical problem can be solved with a mechanical solution or a software problem can be solved electrically. Often software solutions can solve both problems in mechanical and electrical areas.

“The most interesting situation to me is that when a group gets together they come up with ideas that individually they wouldn’t come up with. But the fact that a person asks a question, stimulates another idea in another person’s mind, and because of this we see the transfer of ideas happening. This sometimes unintentionally and unconsciously creates new solutions and new perspectives,” Ciholas says.

To us, leadership plays an important role in the development of employees. We identify their strengths and individuality while placing them in positions where they are able to thrive.

“I like to think of our environment as collegial,” says director of engineering, Justin Bennett. “When we schedule our employees for a project, we leave some time for miscellaneous so they can work on other projects.”

At Ciholas, we have created a space for our engineers to collaborate. These spaces are called PODS, Project Oriented Design Spaces, where different disciplines of engineering meet to work on projects.

Our goal is to foster communication, collaborate on various problem solving techniques, and most of all for everyone to feel welcomed and appreciated.

Evan Buchanan, Master Engineer at Ciholas, knew from the beginning that he wanted to be an engineer.

“I fell in love with computers at a young age. Our dad worked at IBM so it was almost destined that I was going to do something with computers.” Buchanan says.

A graduate from Perry Heights and FJ Reitz High School, Buchanan, decided to study computer engineering at the University of Evansville. He says he had a heavy class load in college but that prepared him well for his professional career.

“Computer engineering is almost two degrees. We joke that it is two thirds electrical engineering and two thirds computer science. We work extensively with both hardware and software.” Buchanan says.

Currently, Buchanan is working on refreshing our internal ultra-wideband products for consumer release.

As a master engineer, Buchanan, has worked with various types of projects that have been crucial for our growth. He says, at this point in his career, his goal is to expand his knowledge of emergent technologies and find ways to implement them into our work.

“When I started nearly fifteen years ago, coming out of college, I spent most of my time learning how to apply the math and software design concepts to the real world. Now I spend more time applying what I already know in new and interesting ways.”

Sarah Dory graduated with two degrees that make her uniquely qualified to work on groundbreaking technology and assist clients in technical theatrical productions; Theater and Electrical Engineering.

From the small town of Greencastle, Indiana, Dory describes her childhood as quiet, fun, and full of support.

“It was kind of a Norman Rockwell type childhood in the sense that there we were insulated from adult and world issues and I remember spending summers running around the neighborhood with my friends. The neighbors didn’t mind and we played outside a lot!” Dory says.

Her community helped shape one of her passions with their summer plays.

“One of my favorite memories is the Putnam County Playhouse. It’s this barn in the middle of rural Putnam County (Indiana) that was converted to a stage where we do four productions in the summer for the community.” Dory says.

Dory graduated with a degree in Theater Design and Technology with an emphasis in Scenic Design and a second degree in Electrical Engineering. She mentions that those majors represent who she is and what her passions are. To her, these passions are a lot more similar than we think.


For her, scenic design is all about the audience’s perception. Her process includes visualizing the play and designing the stage environment to ensure the actors come in and out on time. She says reading the play is the first task for scenic design, one that she enjoys doing.

“My favorite part is teaching the kids scenic painting. For the Warrick County Summer Musical, we work with highschoolers. There are adult staff, but the majority of my stage crew are students. So it’s a fun process for me to pass along those skills and teach a new generation.”

Dory has worked on several significant theatrical productions at the University of Evansville, her alma mater. Now on her time off, she works with the local communities on their summer musicals.

“I wasn’t an actor. I actually like to be behind the scenes. I work with schools within both Vanderburgh and Warrick County helping them design their productions.” Dory says.

With Ciholas, Dory has worked on many different projects, including several client theatrical productions using our ultra-wideband tracking technology to track actors, musicians, and other items on stage. She has made good use of her experience, passion, and two degrees!

Michael Monroe, associate software engineer, originally from Canton, Ohio, moved to Evansville to work at our facilities. In his time with us, Monroe has excelled within our company.

“It’s been interesting because going somewhere where you don’t know anybody it’s tough, but I immediately felt really at home here at Ciholas and I’ve gotten close to the people I work with. So it’s been good,” Monroe says.

For Monroe that change has been more than just the zipcode as he has grown as a software engineer. He recently worked on changing how the devices in our system are configured tomanage sensor data.

“It has been a big project that at first was a large undertaking, but I really enjoyed working on that and it was cool to see the results afterward,” Monroe says.

When Monroe started working with us, he started working on our CUWB (Ciholas ultra-wideband) servers and now he works on code for the firmware side of that same system.

“I want to continue to grow and learn more about firmware and become a better resource for other people who are working on other projects here.” He says.

Monroe says he enjoys the changes in scenery that you can enjoy in Evansville and the helpfulness of his co-workers.

“I am always amazed at how people here make themselves available when I’m stuck on a tough problem or need help on something I’ve never done before.“He adds. “Because of that support, I’ve grown a lot as an engineer in the last two years and I hope that I can support others the same way.”

Monroe went to school at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana and hopes to continue to grow with our company and within our community!

For more than 20 years, we have specialized in providing custom engineering for clients in a variety of industries. By that, we mean people hire us to invent things for them.

“People come to us with their particular problem or a particular product they need to build or take to the next level. However, they don’t necessarily have all the expertise or all of the knowledge to build it. We provide that expertise and knowledge so that they can use high- tech in their product and change their industry,” says president Mike Ciholas.

Today, almost all industries have high-tech components. There are smart watches, smart refrigerators, smart cars. You name it; there is probably a smart version. All these industries are undergoing rapid change and need to introduce more and better technology to stay on the cutting edge of their industry.

“We enable our customers to use high-tech to their best advantage to compete in their industry,” he says.

“We have worked with big and small projects to achieve our customer’s goals. We do a lot of work with antennas and wireless devices, but our capabilities don’t end there,” Ciholas says..

Our business started with our desire to invent and build high-tech devices. What we have become is a company that can propel our clients to be disruptors in their industry. Our skills include a wide array of abilities, including conceptual design, ultra-wideband real-time location, image processing, intellectual property rights, and more.

Since the beginning, it has been our mission to create an inclusive environment where our employees feel welcome no matter their background, race, or sex. Our field, engineering, can sometimes be discriminating for those who are not the majority. We continuously  advocate for more inclusiveness for women in STEM. Currently in the US, only 20% of engineers are women, but these numbers are increasing.

 “We had four women in my (graduating) class. It was kind of shocking since most classes have two, maybe one.” Says Sarah Dory, one of our electrical engineers.

Casey Richardson our associate electrical engineer agrees with Dory.

“Being a woman, it does make me stand out sometimes, but I don’t mind.”

For Richardson, the decision of becoming an engineer was an easy one.

“My parents both got degrees in engineering. My dad teaches engineering so I kind of knew what I was getting into.” She says.

Alicia Bird, also an associate electrical engineer, decided in high school to study engineering after taking a Physics class that challenged her. Her college experience was a bit different from Dory and Richardson because she was one of only two women in the class.

“We ended up being pretty close just trying to get through the tough bits. Being the only women was just another thing you had to deal with but you just get used to it.” Bird says.

She says it would be nice for more people to have access to STEM classes in high school to attract them to the field.

Daniela Fuentes, associate software engineer, is originally from Venezuela, she was first exposed to programming and software engineering in college.

“Initially it was very challenging learning everything from zero, but I was excited about tackling difficult issues and learning new ways to solve problems.”  Fuentes says.

She adds that she would like to see more support from men in the field to inspire more women to become engineers.

Dory, Richardson, Bird, and Fuentes are currently working on a variety of things at Ciholas, including software, ultra-wide band radar, model applications, and data analysis.

We, as a company, will continue to support programs and advocate for more diversity among our engineers through our intern program, our hiring practices, and our support of organizations that promote diversity in the STEM fields.

 

We do a lot of work with antennas and wireless devices. Everything we build has a wireless component to it. Every antenna is different in size, shape, and performance characteristics.

In our efforts to maximize the effectiveness of our antenna designs, we needed a test setup that would allow us to automatically sweep the antenna through multiple orientations. We couldn’t find any, so we decided to make one!

“Our needs were not met by what we could buy.” Says president, Mike Ciholas.

“We have to invent a lot of antennas that go on various devices. They need to be small, different frequencies, have different characteristics and in the process of doing that to test an antenna properly, you have to look at it in all of its directions.” Ciholas says.

In the past to test our antennas we had to manually change its position over and over. After going through various concepts, we finally settled on a device that is able to test our antennas by changing the elevation and angles in a systematic, automated way.

Mechanical Engineer Aidan Kunkle helped to bring Mike’s vision into reality.

“For radio signals, their path is deformed with the presence of metal so the goal was to make a device that had as little metal as possible.” Says Kunkle.

Our device is made out of plywood, plastic fasteners and glue. “These things seem old fashioned but they’re non-metallic.” He says.

Our antenna positioner can work in two orientations simultaneously and test various orientations without the presence of a person manually moving it. The results are recorded in a program that allows us to analyze the antenna and make decisions based on the recorded characteristics.

“We can set this up to measure the antenna pattern, measure the antenna delay, and measure all the antenna characteristics and we can have it run overnight so in the morning we have all this data that tells us how good the antenna is.” Says Ciholas.

The antenna positioner is currently in use at Ciholas for internal development. We are in the process of commercializing it to make it possible for other companies to use.