Q&A: Steven Zhang, Lead Engineer for CALM.—a Wearable ECG Device Serving Unmet Mobile Health Needs

I touched base with a member of HWTrek’s community of creators,  Steven Zhang, who is the lead engineer for CALM., to learn more about the project and its development. CALM. is currently available for pre-order via Indiegogo, where the team has successfully raised about $39,000 (390% of its goal) and has been certified by Arrow Electronics.

Please introduce yourself and your project?

I am Steven Zhang, Lead Engineer for this project. We have made an affordable wearable ECG device, which we are targeting sports users at first, with intention of expanding to healthcare applications down the road. CALM. is for competitive endurance athletes.

What’s the inspiration for your project? What problem does it solve or address?

We saw an unmet need in the healthcare industry, for affordable wearable mobile health solutions that serve everyday monitoring and screening roles. Similar products are either 10 times more expensive or too big and clumsy to be useful.

We decided to target sports before healthcare because most of our team are triathlon enthusiasts, and we decided to provide training safety and sleep analysis for the sports market, while we iterate and go through regulations for healthcare (medical) use.

What solutions did you use for hardware design?

We used Autodesk Fusion 360 as well as Altium.

What solutions did you use for prototyping?

Hardware: 3D printing and small PCBA services

Electronics: Nordic Semiconductor nRF52 Development Kit, Analog Devices AD8233 Evaluation Board, a cheap Chinese ECG signal generator called SKX-2000, and a Hantek oscilloscope.

Mechanical: Anet A8 3D printer

Software: Balsamiq, Sketch.app, ionic framework, Amazon AWS

We skipped a lot of traditional prototyping steps, went straight to a small batch of PCBA samples, and did not make any breadboarded prototypes. We also went straight from 3D printing to injection molding and skipped CNC.

What resources have you used for sourcing and supply chain management?

We used Octopart and Alibaba.

What were the most difficult things to source for your project and how did you source them?

A cheap, reliable, and fast provider for plastic injection molding. We discovered Protolabs, and they had what we need, albeit with some restrictions. Their online quote and DFM system made it possible to go from CAD to plastic faster and cheaper than going back and forth via email and site visits to a traditional injection molding provider.

What tools, if any, do you use for real-time collaboration on your project (with team members and partners)?

For real-time collaboration, we used Autodesk A360 and Skype.

What have been the significant challenges or obstacles you’ve faced on the project? How were they resolved?

Getting the team to agree on unique creative designs. Using 3D printing significantly improved the process by being able to create multiple prototypes, and iterating quickly.

What challenges have you faced in the development of CALM. that are specific to the design and development of a wellness/health device?

Differentiating with existing players like Fitbit, Garmin, and communicating the differentiation to a crowd who are interested but not professors of fitness. We are always asked, even internally, “How is this beneficial to the normal person, who wants to stay fit?“ We are in fact, not targeting a “normal person”. Our target is competitive athletes. Trying to satisfy a broad audience often leads to scope explosion and being mediocre (less focused) at the main purpose.

What are the takeaways and lessons learned from working on this project that you’d like to share with other wellness/health device developers?

There are plenty of untapped niches for wellness/health. Don’t try to cater to everybody with mediocrity, create something that does one thing very well, and you can always add sub features later.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to the beginning of your product development?

Buy a 3D printer early on.

If you are planning a new version of your project or future devices, what will you differently?

We will be making accessories that expand the usage models for CALM. – such as waterproof accessories for swimming. We will also be working towards a medical model.

We all know the phrase “hardware is hard.” Is there something that was much easier than you had initially thought when you started out on your hardware journey?

No, hardware IS hard.

What trend do you see that is changing your sector/industry or what shift would you like to see happen?

More streamlined regulatory scheme for wireless communication devices, and medical devices.

What’s next for your project?

Ramping up mass production for this model, and kicking off development of our next model.

We are also continuously working to improve our analytics algorithms.

And now for something completely different, fun questions…

What are your ‘go-to’ sources for tech information and news? 


What’s currently on your playlist, what are you listening to these days?

I am not a music fan.

What fuels you (coffee, tea, or….)? When you’re low on creative juice, what is your #1 method to get back on track?

A good sleep and energy drinks!

What do you recommend (place to go/see, what to eat) for a visitor to Tokyo?

Japan is very seasonal, research seasonal activities before coming. Cherry blossom in the spring, fireworks in the summer, food festivals in autumn, and hot springs in the winter.

What gadget would you love to have from your favorite science fiction film or book?

Geordi La Forge’s bionic eyes (Star Trek The Next Generation)

This is a screenshot of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s character Geordi LaForge from the episode Suddenly Human. It is used for identification of, and critical commentary upon the fictional character “Geordi LaForge”

If you are working on an IoT healthcare device or want to transform your existing device into a smart, connected one, check out our opportunity to jumpstart your project through our 5-day Asia Innovation Tour – Connected Health Solutions – that will take you and more than 20 other global connected health innovators on visits to manufacturing facilities, certification labs, top-tier medical companies, distributors, healthcare market research firms, and discussing product development strategies with more than 500 industry leaders at the HWTrek Meetups in Shenzhen and Shanghai. This event is free admission. We will arrange and cover the costs of a single company representative, local transportation to visiting companies, institutions, and factories. However, please be aware you need to cover your flights and accommodations, and possibly need to apply for a visa. Learn more and apply here.

Popular Consumer IoT Devices on SoftBank’s +Style Platform

SoftBank launched its +Style platform in 2016 connecting IoT hardware device makers with Japanese consumers who are keen on adopting the hot, new technology into their lifestyle. At the beginning of 2017, SoftBank introduced the +Style as a program on HWTrek to attract the developers of cool IoT devices to the Japanese market.

SoftBank’s +Style has collaborated with ARM Innovation Hub to feature products developed with ARM technology. Six products that use ARM technology are currently available for sale on the +Style platform and four have been offered for pre-order on the crowdfunding section of the platform. For more innovations developed with ARM technology, check out the ARM Innovation Hub.

Planning: Participatory product planning

The Planning component of the +Style platform provides an opportunity for hardware companies to connect with potential consumers of their products during the planning and prototyping stages of their product development. The most talked about project in the Planning component of +Style is a consumer smart health device project called Ketto, developed by Tokyo-based E3 Enterprise. Ketto measures blood sugar, heart rate, and blood oxygen levels. It received more than 120 comments and more than 150 people favorited the project.


Quantum is Tokyo-based open innovation corporate startup studio that supports the development of innovative IoT products from the product planning and design stages through to business development and strategy. Connect with Toshi Shiwa, Chief Engineer at Quantum, on HWTrek to learn more.


Arrk Dison specializes in manufacturing industrial design models and product prototypes including appearance model, function model, silicone mold, temporary vacuum casting, CNC machining, and SLA laser light modeling. To learn more about their services, connect with Sam Liao on HWTrek.


The Smart Aluminum Bag is a sophisticated, craftsman smart briefcase from Tokyo-based Garret Interior. The designer is considering a number of features that include smartphone charging, LED light, GPS logger, and locking mechanism controlled by a smartphone app via Bluetooth connectivity. The project idea was favorited 38 times and received 33 comments.


Crowdfunding: Raising money for product production or testing the market

The two most successful campaigns crowdfunded on +Style are Beam, a smart LED light projector, and Code Horizon, a connected, real-time strategy board game. IoT hardware developers can leverage crowdfunding on SoftBank’s +Style platform to help ease Japan market entry and help to speed go-to-market strategies.

The Beam, which raised 1,346,600 yen, is a smart projector that fits in any light socket (E26/E27 type socket compatible) and can also function as a lighting fixture with its 12 LED lights and is controlled via an iOS or Android app. The Netherlands-based Beam Labs initially raised $759,656 on Kickstarter before testing the Japanese consumer IoT market via +Style. It runs on Android OS, features both Bluetooth and WiFi wireless connectivity, and has two built-in speakers.

img_000003-1 img_000004-1

Code Horizon is a real-time strategy board game, developed by Yokohama-based Mira, that knocks down enemies by deploying realistic robots, VRO (Valkyrie Rover), on the table and virtual infantry units on the iOS/Android application, using all the tactics while identifying the speed change situation. The VRO robots use ARM Cortex M0 processors and are wirelessly connected to the player’s iOS or Android device via Bluetooth 4.0. The project’s campaign raised 527,800 yen on the +Style platform and also raised $30,407 on Kickstarter.


Tokyo-based Kiluck provides planning, product, mechanical, and PCB design services and prototype consulting. Connect with Yaoxuan Zeng, who is responsible for Global Marketing at Kiluck, on HWTrek to learn more about their services.


Shopping: Purchasing products unavailable in Japan

The shopping or e-commerce component of the +Style platform gives consumers the chance to purchase the latest in innovative IoT products that are not yet available in the Japanese market. Some of the most popular devices on offer for sale include a web-connected video camera that can dispense pet treats remotely called Furbo, TrackR bravo, which is an item tracking device backed by a Crowd GPS network, and a wireless robotic button or switch pusher called MicroBot Push. Slovenia-based Ulla Lab’s, a member of the HWTrek community, sells its Ulla personal hydration monitoring device that attaches to a user’s drink to monitor hydration and issue reminders to drink more water. Ulla was developed with ARM technology.

IoT hardware developers looking for assistance in developing a cloud-based network such as TrackR’s Crowd GPS can look to ACCESS on the HWTrek platform. Tokyo-based ACCESS is a provider of advanced IoT software development and solutions. Check their profile and connect with Takashi Sasaki here.


Together with SoftBank’s +Style program, HWTrek provides a complete end-to-end hardware development ecosystem—a one-stop shop—for IoT hardware innovators collaboratively working to manage their product development, connect with manufacturing and supply chain industry experts, and bring their connected device projects to market in Japan.

Check out the +Style program page on the HWTrek platform to learn more about +Style and connect with SoftBank +Style representatives Jack Akita and Masato Furuno.

Interview with James Murphy, Co-Founder and General Manager at HLH Prototypes

We caught up with an expert member of HWTrek’s collaborative hardware development ecosystem community, James Murphy, who is Co-Founder and General Manager of Shenzhen-based HLH Prototypes Co., Ltd., to learn more about the company and the solutions they can provide hardware creators to assist in the development of their early stage projects.


Can you tell us the founding story of HLH Prototypes? What inspired you to start it and what’s your vision for it?

HLH was started by a small team focused on delivering value for money, rapid manufacturing services for companies large and small. Our vision is to move forward with the current enlargement plans, adding more services as we go until we become a full solution provider.

What services do you provide? Can you elaborate more about your solutions (Rapid Tooling + Production, Composite & Export Tooling, Rapid Production Low Volume – Injection Molding, CNC, and Rapid Prototyping – CNC Machining, 3D Printing & More)?

We aim to deliver parts and products in rapid lead times and utilize a number of production methods to do this. No matter if you are looking for a rapid prototype, rapid tooling or rapid production we can deliver. We have a massive range of services but it is our culture and approach, with a real focus on quality, speed and customer service that makes us a real solution provider to our customers.

When a customer comes to you for consultation, what is your process of understanding the product? What are the typical questions you ask? What do the creators need to prepare?

It starts with us trying to understand what the customer wants from their project, what their ultimate goals are, we try to look beyond the drawings at what the customer’s customers are looking for. Once we have understood the ultimate intent and we have studied the drawings we might need some more typical information about quantities and materials. We also ask questions designed to help save people time and money when we can. In terms of what creators need to prepare essentially the more the better but we can also work with very little and explore the best way forward together.

What are the typical mistakes you see hardware developers with an early stage project make? Can you give some advice on how to avoid them?

Often people are reluctant to work on multiple prototype iterations of a new product before production. Why? Budget is generally the answer. But often, in the long run, it is cheaper to try several prototype versions out than to wait until you get to market before you investigate other options. This might mean making the same prototype out of different materials or using different manufacturing techniques to make the same product. In the end, the market waits for no one, and time is money but the knowledge from testing multiple early prototypes can be the difference in getting the right product to market faster.

What are the most interesting and innovative projects you have working on recently? What new technologies, innovations were involved?

We work with a variety of industries, from robotics to automotive to wearables and a whole host of other industries. As for specific projects, our observance of IP rights and the NDA’s that we sign with our customers stops us short from openly discussing some of the cooler projects we have worked on, unfortunately.

Recently there has been a new wave of hardware innovation, dubbed the hardware revolution. How do you see China and the rest of the world responding to these changes in the industry? Are there regional differences in reactions to this phenomenon?

We are without a doubt becoming a more connected society and this is reflected in the ‘must have’ products most consumers crave. With the consolidation of retail chains in Europe and North America price and speed to market paired with manufacturing capacity are all needed to serve the largest markets. China is still the best partner to deliver on these 3 demands and is also growing into the largest consumer market for these products. China with its massive investments in training, technology, and infrastructure will continue to be the go-to for quite some time. The regional differences to this phenomenon are not as discernable as they might have been in the past, again the world is growing much more connected and this seems like a global movement.

What changes have you recently witnessed in the industry? How are manufacturers and the supply chain adapting to the whole wave of IoT?

We won’t speak for the whole industry but one way we here at HLH have adapted to the needs of IoT products is increased investment into our ProtoTool (Rapid Tooling) services. Speed to market, proof of concept and version 2.0 of your product are all great reasons to consider rapid tooling services. It is not just the IoT industry that has driven us to invest in increased rapid tooling capabilities. Just about any industry that sells a product to a retail consumer has seen their timelines shrink. So enabling people to deliver a real product, from real tools in real materials, really fast helps them to get a project green-lit or to capture early sales dollars or funding.

How do you see online collaboration platforms like HWTrek improving hardware product development, project management, and supply chain visibility?

Anytime you can put a creator and a supplier together directly, to help break through the white noise, to help reduce travel dollars and supplier qualification dollars is a good thing. Most good ideas fail from lack of capital, many times we have met creators/designers who find us too late after they have burned through their capital working with poor suppliers. HWTrek is helping us connect with creators/designers earlier which gives their project a much better chance of success.

And now for something completely different, fun questions…

What are your ‘go-to’ sources for tech information and news? (Do you have any recommendations for a must-read/watch/listen to article, book, blog, film, or podcast, etc.?)

Just finished ‘The Inevitable’ by Kevin Kelly, does a good job of summing up where things seem to be heading with some interesting twists of his own.

What’s currently on your playlist, what are you listening to these days?

Bowie and Cohen

Leonard Cohen17bDavid-Bowie Chicago 2002-08-08 photo by Adam-Bielawski
What fuels you (coffee, tea, or….)? When you’re low on creative juice, what is your #1 method to get back on track?

Coffee. Getting back on track, another cup of coffee.

What do you recommend (place to go/see, what to eat) for a visitor to Shenzhen?

We eat local food all the time and it is great and I would recommend this for any traveler. Just pick a restaurant that has photos on the menu and try the local dishes. Also, because Shenzhen is such a massive migrant city the local dish might be from any corner of China, so there is a huge range of dishes to try. The food is cheap so just be brave and try something as is won’t break your bank account if you don’t like it. But, I can appreciate that some people need a Western food fix. If this is the case, then CoCo Park (Shopping Park) area in Nanshan or Shekou Area in Nanshan are both great options for Western bars and restaurants.

What gadget would you love to have from your favorite science fiction film or book?

Time machine, from The Time Machine

To learn more about HLH, feel free to connect with James Murphy on HWTrek and check our their solutions.

Interview with Serge Didenko and Alireza Tahmasebzedah, Co-Founders of BLOCKS Wearables

We reached out to a participant in our first tour HWTrek Asia Innovation Tour (Spring 2014), Serge Didenko, and his fellow co-founder, Alireza  Tahmasebzedah, of BLOCKS Wearables, to learn more about their project and insights.

Over the course of the past two years, HWTrek hosted 80 hardware creators and accelerators to visit Taiwan, Beijing, and Shenzhen on Asia Innovation Tour 2016 (April), Asia Innovation Tour 2015 (August), and also on the first tour in April 2014. We’re organizing the next tour in November 2016 to Shenzhen, Osaka, and Kyoto. You can register on the HWTrek platform and create a project to apply to join the Asia Innovation Tour Winter 2016 cohort destined to meet manufacturing industry experts, see assembly lines in China and Japan, and gain insights about their consumer markets for smart, connected devices.

Serge participated in the first Tour, April 2014. Here’s what he had to say about it:

I’ve learnt a lot from this trip, not just from the manufacturers, but [also] from [fellow participants], so I think it’s great to connect to those people here [on] this trip…Looking forward to working again with HWTrek.

And furthermore,

HWTrek has been instrumental in connecting Blocks to leading manufacturing companies in Asia, superior to any other organizations that offer similar services. Not only that, they were also incredibly helpful in developing a detailed manufacturing plan with our team. Altogether it has undoubtedly accelerated our delivery time by at least 4 to 6 months.

Blocks successfully raised $1.6 Million on Kickstarter in November 2015.

HWTrek: We’d love to catch up with what you’ve been doing since you attended HWTrek’s Asia Innovation Tour in April 2014. What are you working on?

Blocks is the world’s first fully customizable smartwatch – an open platform for wearable technology.


HWTrek: Since your successful crowdfunding campaign, you’ve opened to general pre-orders for Blocks, how is that going?

Ali: Very well. We are getting a good level of pre-orders with minimal marketing efforts and we are happy that our community is growing.

HWTrek: What solutions did you use for hardware design?

Ali: It took us a long time and many different iterations to arrive at the current connectors, protocols, screen type, and module selection, etc. At times we were actually building the prototypes and testing it, and at other times we used simulation solutions.

HWTrek: What solutions did you use for prototyping? What chipsets/MCUs/development kits did you use?

Ali: A range of different platforms like ARM mbed, Intel’s Edison, and BeagleBone, etc.

HWTrek: What wearable chipset/MCU solutions did you choose for going to mass production?

Ali: We are using Qualcomm’s Wear 2100 platform.


HWTrek: What are some of the major lessons you learned along your entrepreneurship journey?

A dedicated team that is ready to keep going no matter what (getting investment and building prototype on time do not always go to plan).

HWTrek: What advice would you give someone who might have an idea, but has yet to launch a hardware startup?

Love what you do because you will have to work very hard for it and give up most of your free time for that dream. But the journey will be also fun as long as you have the right team.

What resources have you used for sourcing and supply chain management?

Ali: It was mostly done by our ODM but at points, we used help from HWTrek.

What were the most difficult things to source for your project and how did you source them?

Ali: The sourcing was mostly done by the ODM. We did make some higher level connections with the management of the supplier companies for some.  

HWTrek: Looking back, what are your takeaways from participating in HWTrek’s Asia Innovation Tour during April 2014?

The power of network – try to befriend a couple of hardware startups ASAP. Spend some money on actually going to Taiwan and staying there – there is nothing like doing development and talking to manufacturers on the ground.

HWTrek: What trend do you see that is changing your sector or what shift would you like to see happen?

Consolidation of the first wave of smartwatch makers – the big players are coming in. There is still a lack of a true killer application out there. We hope to bring the variety of much-needed sensors with Blocks.

HWTrek: Do you have any recommendations for a must-read/watch/listen to article, book, blog, film, or podcast, etc.?



We’re hosting our third Asia manufacturing tour for hardware startups. Welcome to Shenzhen & Beijing!

HWTrek to Host Asia Tour for Hardware Innovators of Internet of Things, Wearable and Robotics Devices

Tour Provides Hardware Creators and SME/SMBs the Opportunity to Visit Prominent Manufacturers and Suppliers in Shenzhen and Beijing, China

We are now accepting applications for HWTrek Asia Innovation Tour 2016, taking place April 25-29 in Shenzhen and Beijing, China with an optional extension to Taiwan, May 2-3. The tour offers hardware Creators and small-medium businesses (SMB) organizations across the globe an opportunity to become better acquainted with the ecosystem of manufacturers and suppliers in Asia, including those that build products for technology leaders such as Apple, Sony, DJI, and Nest.

Let’s get together for a journey to the intersection of innovation and technology. On this trek, industry Expert partners from the manufacturing, supply chain, and retail sectors will share their experience, technology, and knowledge with hardware startups and creators.  On the tour, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Explore the heart of manufacturing: Shenzhen; and the capital of one of the world’s largest consumer electronic markets: Beijing
  • Meet 600+ industry Experts and demo your project in a meetup;
  • Get first hand insights from tier one supply chain Experts: get access to the latest manufacturing technology, processes, and assembly-line walkthroughs to understand how product quality consistency is achieved.
  • Gain insights on the China market from leading market research companies and consumer electronics ecommerce retailers in Beijing;
  • An optional extension trip to Taipei, the hometown of ODMs for world leading brands.

The thought-provoking discussions that sprout along the journey will help you plan for product development and beyond.

A detailed schedule will be provided later to the participants and there will an optional extended tour to Taipei.

HWTrek will award 15 selected creators with airfare sponsorship, local transport between events and visits as well as customized supply chain matching service based on the stage and requirements of your project. You will be given the opportunity to tour facilities and view the assembly lines of some of Asia’s most prominent, billion-dollar manufacturers. In 2014 and 2015, HWTrek led two cohorts of startup participants in visits to YuandongDeli, Innovation Works, JD.com, Xiaomi, and Innoconn in Beijing and HONPE and Sunrex in Shenzhen in addition to many of the leading manufactures and suppliers in Taiwan including Quanta, Wistron, Foxconn, Pronology, Mitac, Qisda, Jorjin Technologies, and Jabil Green Point.

To apply for HWTrek’s Asia Innovation Tour 2016, register as a creator and create a hardware project on the HWTrek platform. You must meet the following criteria for consideration:

  • The application process is open to hardware creators and startup organizations that can present a simple, working prototype of a wearable or Internet of Things hardware device; and
  • This working prototype must fall under one of the following categories: Wearables; Industrial Applications; Sports; Toys / Games; Cameras / Audio & Video; Family / Home Automation; Mobile Device Accessories; Auto; or Health and Science gadget.
  • You are a founder or co-founder of the team.
  • Ensure that your project created on the platform is complete including: project description, photograph, and resource requirements (from design and prototyping to manufacturing and retail services).

The deadline for the application is March 31, 2016. More information about the tour is available at https://www.hwtrek.com/events/asia_innovation_tour_2016-q1.

HWTrek is committed to supporting inventors and small-medium enterprises (SME) at all stages of project development to assist them to connect with the resources they need to design, build, and bring their hardware innovations to market. Asia Innovation Tour is specially designed for hardware creators like you who are ready for pilot production runs to prepare for mass production, or outsourcing a side line of products as an expression of the power of seamless online-to-offline collaboration that is rewiring the making of smart things at the center of manufacturing, Shenzhen.

HWTrek’s cloud-based platform is the first global, complete end-to-end hardware development ecosystem—a one-stop shop—for IoT hardware innovators working to manage their product development, connect with manufacturing and supply chain industry experts, and bring their connected device projects to market. HWTrek now connects more than 5,000 hardware creators and startups that have created 1,370 projects on the platform to 900 trusted manufacturing and supply chain industry experts from Taiwan and Shenzhen to rest of the world—from tier 1 ODMs to small, skilled design houses—who have developed unique programs to assist the creators in pilot production. More than 2,500 inquiries have been successfully bridged with manufacturers and other experts.

The last two cohorts of participants (more than 50) in the tour came from more than 30 cities and 15 countries. A number of the startups are alum of a variety of leading hardware incubators or accelerators including Bolt, Boomtown, BuildIt, Fledge, HARDWARE.co, Highway1, R/GA, Startupbootcamp, StartX, and Techstars. They are award-winning: Best of CES 2014 & 2015, BetaPitch Global, ISPO Award – Product of the Year 2015/16, and many others. They’ve run successful crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo and several have successfully raised funding rounds.

Here are some quotes from past participants:

HWTrek has been instrumental in connecting Blocks to leading manufacturing companies in Asia, superior to any other organizations that offer similar services,” said Serge Didenko, Co-founder of Blocks Wearables (London). “Not only that, they were also incredibly helpful in developing a detailed manufacturing plan with our team. Altogether it has undoubtedly accelerated our delivery time by at least 4 to 6 months.

For us at H+, it was fantastic to come across all kinds of resources from VCs to manufacturers and even entering the Asian market,” said Dhruv Adhia, CTO of H+ Technology, developer of Holus – the world’s first interactive holographic platform and app ecosystem. “These are all mighty tasks and with the help of HWTrek, I feel very confident that it will immensely benefit us.

It has been an amazing experience – visiting some of the biggest manufacturers, meeting investors, and getting insights into the uprising Asian market,” said Felix Kochbeck, CEO and Co-founder of Luuv, maker of mechanical and electronic camera stabilizers. “All of that, together, in a group with other hardware startup founders is priceless. Great connections were made.

HWTrek has been awesome at opening the doors,” said Cameron Turner, Partner Data Scientist with The Data Guild. “We met with CEOs, we met with suppliers, manufacturers, and I look forward to working with HWTrek in the future.

I think HWTrek has been the most amazing trip we’ve taken so far – it’s highly organized, we’ve met many executives and engineers of all the contract manufacturers,” said Yobie Benjamin, Co-founder of Avegant. “I highly recommend to anybody out there who is thinking of building a device, Internet of Things, to be part of HWTrek. Please call these guys, they are amazing.

HWTrek led our first experience in Asia and introduced us to dozens of potential customers and suppliers,” said Steven Stoddard, Co-founder and Director of Operations of CoolChip (Boston). “We even ended up raising money from an angel investor we met on the trip! We’re still working on our first manufacturing agreement, but I would recommend HWTrek to any startup who thinks they might manufacture or sell in Asia someday.

I think it is incredibly useful for any hardware startup facing manufacturing issues––and in the age of crowdfunding, there are multitudes of new startups, including mine, that could really use this kind of exposure,” stated Arlene Ducao, of DuKorp, which makes MindRider Helmet that tracks your mental experience. “The tour is also a great first-hand introduction for any emerging product engineer or designer who wants to learn more about scaling their technology.

This was a very rare opportunity for a startup company like mine to go inside some of the world’s top electronics manufacturers and learn how they can help new product developers,” said Burton Hamner, President of Hydrobee SPC, developer of the Hydrobee personal renewable USB power system. “We were all very impressed by the participation of the top managers of those companies. Finally, the mix of startup companies in the tour was great. I learned quite a lot talking with the other entrepreneurs. The time spent with the other startups is a very valuable component of the tour.

Raph Crouan, Managing Director and Founder of Startupbootcamp IoT (London) noted, “HWTrek gathered an amazing group of talented and passionate hardware entrepreneurs!” “Needless to say, I’d recommend this Asia Tour to anyone interested in grasping the complexity, variety and buzzing Asian hardware ecosystem.

It is an eye-opening tour for us,” added Nattapon Chaimanonart, CEO and Founder of Ultra, Inc. maker of Violet – a UV exposure tracker. “We had a chance to meet a lot of smart people and learn more about what and how they do things.

Additional supporting resources:

It’d be awesome if you help us spread the word:

About HWTrek (Hardware Trek)

HWTrek is a unique ecosystem where hardware Creators and industry Experts meet and create smart hardware for the future, based in Taiwan and Shenzhen. HWTrek simplifies the hardware creation process by providing online planning and team collaboration tools and direct access to quality manufacturers and industry experts. Learn more about HWTrek: http://www.hwtrek.com or follow @HWTrek.


William Andrew Albano, HWTrek
Tel: +886-2-2769-1698 | +886-2-2742-3301
Email: william.albano@hwtrek.com
Skype: william.andrew.albano

Sponsorship opportunities contact:

Cindy Chen, HWTrek
Tel: +86-186-1041-6312
Email.com: cindy.chen@hwtrek.com
Wechat: +86.186.1041.6312

Media Kit

Prototype your IoT device and go to market faster with Intel Edison

Intel® Edison is a development platform for IoT and wearable devices. It is designed to help hardware creators and entrepreneurs with rapid prototyping so that they can efficiently produce innovative IoT products that keep us connected and transform the ways in which we live.

What do you get?

Intel Edison2

The package includes an Intel® Edison Complete Module and Arduino breakout board. The platform provides an open-source hardware and software development environment for wearable and IoT connected devices for hardware startups and makers. The high performance dual-core, dual-threaded Intel® Atom 500 MHz CPU and a 32-bit single core Intel® Quark 100 MHz microcontroller support complex data collection in a low power package.

The solution supports Arduino Stretch, Linux, and includes integrated Broadcom Wi-Fi module and Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (LE), 1 GB LPDDR3 POP memory, and 4 GB eMMC flash storage to simplify configuration and increase scalability. Device-to-device and device-to-cloud connectivity frameworks enable cross device communication and a cloud based, multi-tenant, time-series analytics service.

Intel Edison1-edited

The platform provides extensibility and total project design flexibility via a total of 40 multiplexed GPIO interfaces with expansion board options. The GPIOs can be configured as,

  • One SD card interface
  • Two UART controllers (1 full flow control, 1 Rx/Tx)
  • Two I2C controllers
  • One SPI controller with 2 chip selects
  • One I2S controller
  • Twelve additional GPIOs (4 capable of PWM)
  • One USB 2.0 OTG controller
  • One 32 kHz, 19.5 MHz Clock output

Award-winning hardware startups that prototyped with Intel Edison

Two hardware startups on the HWTrek platform and that participated in Asia Tour 2014 have used Intel® Edison to prototype their project were top 10 finalists in the Intel® Make it Wearable challenge.

BLOCKS Wearables

One of the most exciting hardware startups in the news these past months that used Intel® Edison to prototype their smart connected device is BLOCKS Wearables. They are creating a modular smartwatch for which they will be launching a crowdfunding campaign later this year. BLOCKS will include a developer ecosystem for hardware and software developers to create modules and apps to integrate with the smartwatch. website1-blocks-modular-smartwatch-chooseblocks.com

Arc Wearables

The Arc Pendant, developed by Arc Wearables, is smart pendant designed to work in real-time and based on an open platform through which users are given options of different sensors and hardware that they can use in multiple combinations to capture a variety of information from heart rate to breathing and to provide the user feedback such as which direction to turn.

Arc Pendant1

There are loads of interesting and fun Intel Edison projects around the world. Here’s just a few: Braigo, Thud Rumble, Project Buendia, Slamware, and Nixie. Find more on the solution page. Do you have an Intel Edison-based project that you’d like to share? Add a link to it in the discussion here.

Making Connections with Intel via HWTrek

Intel’s Anderson Cheng and Richard Chuang represented Intel at the HWTrek Meetup 2015 on August 18 to introduce Intel® Edison as part of HWTrek’s Asia Tour for hardware startups from 25 cities across the globe. If you’d like more detailed information about Intel® Edison, check out its solution page and get a direct connection to an Intel representative: connect with Raghavendra Ural or with Richard (two of more than 600 trusted experts on the HWTrek platform) through the Intel® Edison discussion forum. Start building something for the Internet of Things with Intel® today. What will you make?

Keep your eyes on the HWTrek blog for future posts featuring hardware makers that are using (or have used) Intel® Edison to prototype their projects and their experience using the platform.

6 Questions: Raymond Lo, CTO and Co-founder META

Raymond Lo

HWTrek sponsored 30 hardware creators and accelerators to visit Taiwan, Beijing, and Shenzhen on Asia Innovation Tour 2015 in August—and also in April 2014. We’re doing it again this spring. The next Asia Innovation Tour 2016 cohort is destined to meet manufacturing industry experts, see assembly lines, and gain insights about China’s market in April 2016.

Raymond Lo participated in the first HWTrek Asia Innovation Tour, April 2014. Here’s what he had to say about it:

“This trip provide me lots of resource on the manufacturing process…[and access to] billion [dollar]-worth companies; all these companies have provided [us with] some way to engage, which I find very valuable.”

HWTrek: We’d love to catch up with what you’ve been doing since you attended Asia Tour last year. What are you working on?

Raymond: Meta is actively developing the next generation of product. Since last year’s Asia Tour visit, we have shipped over a thousand units of our Meta 1 Developer Kit, and grown the team to 70 people.


What are some of major lessons you learned along your entrepreneurship journey?

Ship the product early and and take feedback. All hardware startups shall always use some sort of lean startup method to rapidly get feedback: build, test, and learn!

What advice would you give someone who might have an idea, but has yet launch a hardware startup?

Get in touch with the vendors, manufacturers, and partners as early as possible. Sell your vision to them and try your best to get feedback from users with your early prototype. I definitely lost track of the number of demos I have done to the customers or our partners.

Looking back a year on now, what are your takeaways from participating in the tour last year?

The tour provided me insight into the manufacturing process. Also, it gave me an overview of where things are in this world. It is always a great feeling to see lights at the end of the tunnel as early as possible.

What trend do you see that is changing your sector or what shift would you like to see happen?

A few years ago, only a dozen of companies were working on wearable AR/VR product. However, the release of the Oculus Rift, Google Glass, and Microsoft Hololens has generated tremendous amount of energy in this field. AR is definitely an emerging field and being an early pioneer and part of this is an absolutely fantastic memory in history.

Do you have any recommendations for a must-read/watch/listen article, book, blog, film, or podcast, etc.?

Recommended readings:

  • Lean Startup
  • Mastering the Rockefeller Habits
In general, get out of the building (google this), travel and talk to your customer, your vendors, your investors. Every startup has the only problem, and there isn’t any book who can save your company.

6 Questions: Tom Shrive, Arc Wearables & Pop Stick CEO

Last year, HWTrek sponsored 30 hardware startups and creators to visit Taiwan and Beijing on the Asia Innovation Tour 2014. We’re doing it again this August. We reached out to Tom Shrive (CEO and co-founder of Arc Wearables and Pop Stick), a participant in the tour last year, to see what he’s been up to during the past year.

HWTrek: We’d love to catch up with what you’ve been doing since you attended Asia Tour last year. What are you working on?

Tom: We’re working on 2 separate projects, Arc Wearables and the Pop Stick – the photo stick that wraps.

What are some of major lessons you learned along your entrepreneurship journey?

When it comes to hardware, choosing your partners is possibly the most important thing. You can’t do everything on your own, so having advice from people like HWTrek is really useful. The other thing is to get out of the office and talk to potential customers – it’s very easy to get protective about your idea or product, but honest feedback is invaluable.

What advice would you give someone who might have an idea, but has yet launch a hardware startup?

Don’t launch too early and be aware of how long and what the steps are. Every new company starting out in hardware has a very rose tinted idea of how long it will take them to get a product to market – anything below a year and a half is impressive. Also don’t get too ambitious. Start small and if your only competitive advantage is that you’re cheaper, you’re screwed.

Looking back a year on now, what are your takeaways from participating in the tour last year?

I met a lot of friends and learned a lot about manufacturing. Crucially, I met some trusted suppliers, and as mentioned, trusted suppliers are the most important thing for a hardware company.

What trend do you see that is changing your sector or what shift would you like to see happen?

I’m hoping that the lumbering manufacturing industry is increasingly able to reduce lead times and accept a much more JIT management approach to capacity going forward.

Do you have any recommendations for a must-read/watch/listen article, book, blog, film, or podcast, etc.?

Not off hand. There are many. The best ones are written by those who have failed – it’ll give you a taste for how hard hardware actually is.

Design, prototype IoT and wearable devices with MediaTek

143322543369134906The MediaTek LinkIt™ Assist 2502 development platform is the world’s smallest commercial System-on-Chip (SoC) for wearables and is based on the the MediaTek MT2502 (Aster) SoC. The platform is used to design and prototype IoT and wearable devices. The platform enables hardware creators the ability to rapidly develop innovative products that change the way we live and keep us connected.



gomore-bottomWhile the development platform was only announced this year, devices that have used the platform in their design and development have already reached the market place. One example is GoMore Stamina Sensor that was announced at CES in Las Vegas in January and began shipping this summer in Japan and Taiwan. GoMore is a fuel gauge for athletes that enables them to determine how much energy they have left in order to best pace their performance.


The MediaTek LinkIt™ Assist 2502 development platform includes both a software development kit (SDK) and hardware development kit (HDK). Connectivity is provided by built-in Bluetooth, support for GSM and GPRS cellular network technologies, and optional companion low energy consumption Wi-Fi and GNSS chipsets that are compatible with the platform development board.143322983556058134

Because it is based on theAstor SoC, developers can more quickly take their idea from design and prototype to OEM/ODM partners licensed for manufacturing devices with the Astor and other compatible chipsets and to ultimately bring their product to market.

If you’d like more detailed information about LinkIt™ Assist 2502, check out its solution page and make a direct connection to an expert at MediaTek through the Q&A on the HWTrek platform. Start building something for the Internet of Things with MediaTek.

Want a chance to meet MediaTek? Apply for HWTrek’s Asia Tour 2015 before July 31. On the tour, participants will have the opportunity to visit assembly lines, meet 300 experts from the manufacturing and supply chain industry, and gain insights into the market for smart, connected devices for the Chinese consumer.

In our next solution feature, we interview a creator using the platform to develop a cool, connected device. Keep your eye on the blog. Until next time.