Mide's R&D Beginnings
Mide had traditionally done a lot of research and development projects for the Department of Defense since its founding in 1989. Its focus had started with applying "smart materials" to solve challenging engineering problems. But in order to design, build and test systems for smart materials, Mide had to develop competency in things like embedded electronics, testing and analysis, mechanical system design, and structural dynamics.
The intertwined path of R&D exposed Mide to long term monitoring and energy harvesting which took enDAQ on the next step of its evolution. But R&D is still very much a part of our division's strategy and focus. We not only recognize the immense opportunity that lies ahead with continued new product development (see more information on our roadmap); but we also recognize that continued research and development is necessary to continue to keep our solutions current and viable. And last but not least, we are a bunch of engineers who love research and development; it just so happens we found something we love developing that many people around the world love using!
Piezo Energy Harvesting
In 2008 Mide started selling piezoelectric energy harvesters (now through our
other division, Piezo.com). We launched these harvesters because we had used them ourselves as part of some long-term monitoring systems. We were also very aware of the emerging IoT (Internet of Things) revolution (still going...) and saw piezoelectric energy harvesters as one potential energy source to power these sensors. This ingrained in us the importance of low-power electronics design that is still a big part of our products and platform to this day to enable the small size with a long life.
This led us to interface with customers who were interested in energy harvesting but didn't know enough about their vibrating environment to select the right product and even understand if vibration energy harvesting was viable.
Original Slam Stick
To meet the needs of these potential energy harvesting customers we turned to our R&D activities and some internal testing tools we had developed for ourselves. We realized that we could commercialize a simple vibration data logger design that we started selling in 2010.
This simple device was called a "Slam Stick" for its resemblance to a USB stick and how it is "slammed" down to quickly measure a vibrating environment. As we started selling this through our website to energy harvesting customers we quickly started finding customers who were buying it for general testing needs. They appreciated the ease-of-use of the design and cost effectiveness. Convenience was paramount with this product and key to its design. This emphasis on convenience remains a key focus of all our activities to this day. Everything from the product functionality, to software interfaces, and even ordering and customer support - we want our platform to be convenient!
Development of the Slam Stick X for NAVAIR
We started hearing from our Slam Stick customers who wanted more capabilities in the system and met with Brett Gardner, an engineer from NAVAIR, at a conference in 2011 who loved the simplicity and portability of the Slam Stick. He wanted something like this for his test engineers to quickly diagnose any issues in F/A-18s. But in order to us Slam Stick data for US Navy testing he needed to ensure the data quality was greatly improved and provided a calibrated signal. He also needed greater measurement range in both acceleration levels and time (battery). And lastly he needed the system to be reliable enough to handle the harsh environments on aircraft carriers and inside fighter jets.
We worked with Brett to secure a development contract for the next major leap in Slam Stick to make the system much more reliable. We working with the Navy to develop a system and qualify it to survive in a very harsh environment. This also emphasized data quality and calibration to ensure the system provided data that was meaningful to the end user. These requirements during the project remain focuses to this day. This development effort finished in 2014 when we launched the Slam Stick X.
Growth of Slam Stick X
Up until the launch of the Slam Stick X, Mide had sold just over 200 Slam Stick (classic) units annually. When the Slam Stick X was launched on our eCommerce website in mid-2014 we sold just over 40 units by years end. The following year (2015) over 500 units, the following year (2016) over 800, and in 2017 we shipped over 2,000 units.
This rapid growth was sustained from our marketing efforts through genuinely helpful educational content, a great product, and helpful customer support. We also continued our development in the product by releasing new variants with different accelerometer and enclosure options. The firmware and software was also advanced to make the system more and more configurable.
From Slam Stick to Launch of enDAQ
Through our growth and interactions with thousands of customers, two things became crystal clear:
- Our technology is highly scalable, and the product was becoming much more our electronics, firmware and software platform than solely a vibration recorder. We can grow this platform in endless ways!
- There is a growing need for a convenient, configurable, and reliable platform to help people acquire data, analyze it, and then act upon it to improve their products, processes, and services. We want to provide that platform!
So this led us to rebrand ourselves not as a simple recorder but instead a scalable platform that allows our end customers to select and configure the right solution for their needs. We are actively developing new product lines and software solutions and would love to hear from you! Check out our roadmap and provide feedback to help us prioritize developments into solutions you need!