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  • C++

Customer

Phosphor's Touch Time is one of those projects everyone wants on Kickstarter.com — the kind that find funding in just a few days. By the end, the project's funding goal was exceeded by over 600%, reaching more than $300K.

Envisioned by Donald Brewer, former VP Technology of Fossil, and designed by Stefan Andren, former Creative Director for NIKE+, the Touch Time project was in desperate need for a neural system — smart firmware optimized for extremely low energy consumption — that would allow going live with all the planned features on board the device.

Problem

The concept of the Touch Time device together with a minimalistic design defined a combination of tough requirements and constraints:

    • 7 embedded applications accessed through a smooth touchscreen interface
    • Sufficient performance to allow seamless behavior and smooth workflows to guarantee an excellent user experience
    • Stiff 192 kB flash storage restriction
    • 1 coin cell battery = 1+ year of uninterrupted performance

The initial development team was struggling to meet those ambitious project objectives. After two of seven planned features were implemented and appeared to consume over 80% of the available memory it became clear that Phosphor had to look for a new, mature firmware developer capable of project rescue.

Challenge

Here at Softeq, we share a passion for innovation and we were excited to help Phosphor overcome the challenges — by applying our vast experience in developing firmware for flash memory, algorithm optimization, hardware modeling and low-level coding techniques complicated by hardware restrictions.

The situation required critical yet fast changes in the project management strategy and the development approach. Softeq’s first effort concentrated on generating a completely new vision of the development environment and allocating developers with the most relevant skills and expertise.

Solution

Strong knowledge in embedded software development allowed us to overcome the challenges by offering four solutions:

  1. Crumple and toss malfunctioning firmware algorithms and write new ones from scratch with an emphasis on debugging and optimization;
  2. Add caching of graphic data into RAM, to reduce the number of flash memory calls, thus increasing the performance up to 10 times;
  3. Switch from Apache Ant to SCons build system to enhance unit management and integration efficiency;
  4. Develop a device emulator for Windows (that allows debugging without using a physical device) to speed up development and optimization while reducing project costs and duration.

The suggested solutions helped produce lean and concise code, meet performance metrics and ensure a superb user experience.

To succeed, any innovative initiative requires smart project management to drive effort, keep control over the processes, adapt and reuse iterative results.

Within the stages of development, we maintained a very close collaboration with Phosphor’s team not only to receive approvals for project activities and acceptance of deliverables, but also to exchange ideas about the approach, milestones, solutions, and improvements, giving the customer as much transparency as possible.

Each major release was thoroughly tested and debugged in order to increase the code quality and algorithm productivity.

Pack of Features
  • Softeq managed to jam all those features controllable via touch screen in a mere 192 kB
  • 6 styles of time display
  • More than 70 time zones supported, 3 of them can be observed simultaneously
  • Stopwatch
  • Calendar / Lunar calendar
  • Reminder
  • Alarm clock
  • Calculator

Results

Touch Time was a great opportunity for Softeq to apply its strong firmware development expertise and help launch a brand new product that thousands of people around the globe will enjoy.

Phosphor Touch Time can work a whole year on the same battery while other touch screen watches last a mere 10 days.

Real low energy consumption is the feature that makes the Time Touch product very attractive for customers but extremely challenging for engineers and firmware developers.

Energy efficiency was achieved by the product’s design. It has a very limited amount of RAM and flash memory, which consumes minimal energy but still has to execute all the fancy features a user wants or needs from a smart watch.

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