Watching Kittens

Wow. We have come a long way in the past month… I know a lot of start ups say things like that but we have been busy. Late night and early mornings. The daily grind of the nine to five. Essentially working most hours while awake. It’s paying off. WallyBoard has moved from browsers to native android application. No longer relying on an external application source to serve the boards, its all done locally – in house – something we are extremely proud of.

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Everything in the app has been re-engineered. When logging in you can either use the administrator view or jump directly into the user mode. The logic behind the board has been updated. Auto dimming / better touch controls / all running on the newest version of Chromium, so no matter what device you run it on, it will be using the latest and greatest. We have customized the board to support two minimum and maximum sizes. All boards are now using high resolution IPS screens.

We also added in magnetic charging ports – Micro USB ports proved to be very challenging for our users.

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On the user side of the board, we now have famous works of art as the background – these change on the hour. Our weather code as improved – offering the current condition as well as the temperature. Our Wally character also makes an appearance in the bottom right as the switch to bring up the Wally menu.

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Thanks to all the technical updates we did – we’re now offering two new features – Live Internet Radio and Live Web Cams.

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We are working on digital audio controls for the radio – right now we are using the on-board rocker switch as you would with your phone. Once we finalize our hardware specs – it will make this easier. There are currently five different test hardware platforms in the wild.

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I cannot save enough good things about people who dedicate their time into providing 24/7 live camera feeds on-line. The joy our users have gotten our of simply watching a group of kittens play – or the sun setting over a remote beach as been an overwhelming experience.

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So, what next? I’m currently wrapping up the back end system that will allow facilities to control all the boards as an entire integrated system. When that is done, the board to board communication layer will be started and then we will be ready to do a large scale beta test.  I am also working with a few hardware manufacturers in efforts to get support for a full facility roll out with at least 100 units taking part in the testing. This though comes with a cost… and a quite hefty one at that… so based of what I hear in the next week or two, we may considering a funding campaign – something I wanted to avoid, but it might be worth it.

Seven is less than ten.

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Sorry everybody – I know it’s been a while since I have written a post – the last was before I left for Nashville to be specific. Vacation was fun. It was good to clear my head for a couple days, but its time to get back to business.

Veggie Memory, the first game for the WallyBoard has launched – it’s fun… really!  I catch myself playing it a lot. Checkout the screenshot below. It’s just the beginning tho – our plans are to build out the Wally platform to allow people to create their own applications and games.

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I have been in contact with a lot of hardware manufacturers recently. Still looking for the right partner. The last vendor was charging too much for shipping and by the time I paid the bank transfer prices – the cost of the fees were more than the hardware itself.  So, I’m looking elsewhere. I want to have a beta program inline by the end of the year – looking for multiple facilities with at least 100 users total. What you see in the title photo is an Amazon Fire 7. Amazon has been great to work with – it’s affordable – quality hardware – and their wholesales prices are very competitive… it’s just… too small. But the case is EXACTLY what we’re looking for. So were not making that much headway in that department, just baby steps.

Stay tuned for some more updates – we have a lot of stuff in the works. We’re ready to roll.

 

One step forward.

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I didn’t get the memory game done by the time I had to go to Nashville. I feel a little behind but I made significant progress tonight and it will be launched by the end of the week.  Everything is working, the artwork could use some work, but I am my worst critic, so maybe its just me bring picky.  Sorry for the quality of the posting photo. It’s getting late here and I’m on Hong Kong time.

On the hardware side of the business, I think I we are very close to finding our vendor. The last sample seems great, but in hindsight, I think the stars in our eyes were due to the fact that we were making progress – not that we had an ideal product in our hands, which like I’ve stated in an earlier posting – just won’t do.

The latest vendor I’m working with really seems to understand what I’m trying to do and has been supplying me with a steady stream of options and configurations. Time will tell if the talk lives up to the product – we are expecting samples within the next week – of course, I will post an update.

To add on to the growing list of tasks that need to be completed is the search for our first round of funding. There are various methods for getting capital but going about getting it seems daunting. I keep hearing about how great this idea is, but does that translate into someone handing over a check? No… it doesn’t… It’s going to take a lot of hard work – harder than I’m working now, but I’m confident we will get there.

Both ends burning.

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It’s been a long week for me but I managed to get out the WallyBoard website on Friday night. If you haven’t had a look, I encourage you to check it out (www.mywallyboard.com). I still need to do some work on it for mobile web browsers, but since I am essentially a team of one, it is not my highest priority this today.

Next to my 40 hour a week day job, I have also been pecking away on getting the memory game out the door. I wanted to have it ready this past weekend but other things got in the way. My wife and I are heading to Nashville this Friday for some much needed down time, I’m hoping to have that pushed out before we go so I won’t have it on my mind.

The hardware selection is still underway. The last sample got a B- on my grading scale for what I am looking for… It had some short comings with the version of Android and the support from the company felt flaky at best. Thanks to some surprise funding, I will be ordering many more samples this week from another vendor. Fingers crossed on these.

Prototype One

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I pulled the trigger last week – tho I should have talked to with my better half before I did – but I have ordered a sample tablet for what could be the production ready version of Wally.

Finding the right tablet to work from has been a challenge. My list of demands seems to grow on a daily basis but it is crucial that all of them are met. I’ve been told in the past, I am not easy to please… I see it now. But I don’t find that to be a negative when it comes to this. Our users will all have varying levels of disabilities and there is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution.

This device has a gorgeous IPS LCD that enable a crystal clear screen at a 170 degree viewing angle – this is far better than anything we currently have deployed. It’s also light weight – maybe too light. This could be solved when we get it wrapped in our custom silicone sleeve which is still in the works.

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The WiFi has been decent from what I’ve tested so far – WiFi is usually not a problem. One thing I’m thinking bout adding is a sim card holder for those who do not have internet – but this would mean an additional cost for the user, something I’m not to keen on at this moment

The software on this machine leaves a lot to be desired. Even though we will be loading our own custom ROM – these machines come with a pre-configured setup that… well… let’s just say, I am skeptical about. I am getting a copy of the firmware from the manufacture tonight – I’m curious to see what it is comprised of…

Getting this prototype is a big milestone for me. I feel that we’re making a lot of progress very quickly and cannot wait to see what else this project has in store.

An accidental beginning.

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Hi, my name is Daniel Strabley – I am the creator of the Wally Board – or more affectionately know as “Wally” – and this is my journey.

When I created Wally I did it for one simple reason. To help my wifes grandfather (Wally) cope with his early stage of dementia. I never planned for this to become a product or a business, I just wanted to help.

It started simple enough – Wally was having difficulty understanding if it was morning or afternoon, a condition known as “Sundowners”. To help, we found a clock that would read the time and the time of day… for $90, an absurd price for what it provided.

I started with an Acer brand laptop and some very basic HTML/JavaScript code -within an hour, I had all the the functionality the $90 device had plus background images that changed with the time and the current weather. I then wrapped it in a frame I built from some leftover scrap trim and it was done in one day with materials I already had on hand.

This was in April. As I write this in August, we have come a long way. The simple web-page became a complex system. The hardware became slimmer and cheaper and the impact on Wally has become greater and greater… and now we are a business.

I plan on forming this business around transparency.  I’m not an expert in cognitive disorders or forming a startup. This is a journey for me and my family. Blogging about it the entire way – documenting the success and the pitfalls as we go.

We have received a lot of attention on this project and it’s importance. It has surprised us and inspired us and I hope you will follow our progress.