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Case Studies : Blue Mug Creates Firmware for TypeSoft's Vera

Vera Customer: Typesoft
Industry: Mobile consumer electronics
Solution: Low-cost textpad

Typesoft Profile:

Typesoft is a startup company founded by Rod Stambaugh, an entrepreneur with the original Vera concept, in August 2001.

Technical Challenge:

Vera is a low-cost full-sized keyboard with text display. Users may work on several different documents while on-the-go, then upload them to their PC via USB.

Typesoft partnered with Blue Mug to design and implement the Vera device firmware, PC client application, and PC driver. Another partner, Frog Design, designed the form factor and hardware.

Typesoft required several rounds of working prototypes for iterative cycles of design and user feedback. These cycles were timed aggressively to target an early launch date.

Blue Mug Solution:

Blue Mug engineers quickly subdivided their task into three areas: low-level firmware integration, device software, and PC software.

The firmware integration team worked closely with Frog Design on the hardware design and helped iron out hardware bugs. It then wrote custom drivers for the device hardware.

In parallel, the device software team developed a tiny and efficient text editor. Starting pre-silicon, this team designed an emulation environment which was later smoothly transitioned to the actual device.

The PC software team pushed to get a working prototype application built, which then went through iterative stages of UI design and feature integration. In this way, Typesoft always had a working demo which kept getting better.

The device firmware needed to be as small as possible to keep costs down. This required our engineering solution to be extraordinarily space-conscious. Remarkably, our team managed to fit a full text editor, memory manager, display driver, USB driver, and keyboard driver into less than 8k of ROM.

Benefits to Typesoft:

  • Rapid prototyping identified problem areas and allowed for feedback
  • Typesoft able to focus on product goals instead of all design details