The major developments are streaming in two directions: software and hardware development. The progress on the software development is by far faster that on the hardware side. The Bitcoincard backend system will be demonstrated at the www.bitcoin2013.com event in one week. As soon as the card itself will be ready the whole system will incorporate a unique software/hardware solution. There is a lot of to share and discuss on the software part of our developments. This time I would like to give you more details on the hardware development for the Bitcoincard. I will go in some technical details of our card in my future posts. Now I want you to see a broader picture explaining the long delivery time for the Bitcoincard. We set our goals to make a revolutionary product and on the way we’ve got many challenges.
What major challenges we face in the development of the Bitcoincard:
2. MINIATURIZATION TARGET
Now let’s go through every challenge in details:
1. ENERGY – Every device or a life being has to find a compromise between the energy consumed and work performed including the work related to consume, distribute and store energy. The fundamental laws of physics can often be confined to a tradeoff of three parameters: energy storage, energy generation or transformation and energy distribution. Our Bitcoincard is so small that there is barely a place to store power for a long lasting operation. In our first prototype publicly demonstrated in May 2012 we used a solar panel for a constant energy generation. However it was a solution where the place for energy storage (simply an extra battery volume) was occupied by the solar panel (energy generator), the power conditioning and charging circuits (energy transfer). On top of that a solar powered card stored in your wallet produces no power as there is no sunshine. With the solar panel our card was too thick (about 3 mm) and there was no room to make this Bitcoincard as thin as a conventional credit card.
Our enabling decision was to focus on decreasing the power consumption of the Bitcoincard from one side, to find the most optimal way to charge the card and integrate an optimal battery (in terms of the occupied volume and capacity), which yet has to ensure a comfortable user experience.
2. MINIATURIZATION TARGET – set by us has a far fetching strategy. The Bitcoincard has to be a ubiquitous device. How many similar things are carried by a person? Pair of shoes, a T-shirt (a limited set of clothes), maybe a watch, a mobile phone, and a wallet are all coming in a single or a pair set. But there are many cards in the wallet. Yes, every of us carries a least a couple of cards all the time. These are some bank cards, a driver license, a picture ID, a door access badge, a bunch of loyalty cards and so on. The Bitcoincard will become one of them and eventually replace/incorporate most of them in a single card device. Our Bitcoincard integrates a mobile phone of 1990th in a credit card form factor. Our miniaturization target is so far unprecedented in the Smart Card industry. The Bitcoincard ought to have a form factor of a credit card. We are working with the world leading companies developing and producing Smart Cards. Some of these companies have already given up with the Bitcoincard miniaturization, several of them are still with us and together we have made a tremendous progress. We are grateful to those Smart Card companies which are conquering the challenge to bring a revolutionary product on the market. Many our components suppliers together with the Smart Card companies believe in the product we are creating and this is a reassuring sign for the business decisions we have made.
3. TECHNOLOGY – related to miniaturization brought us to the top world companies producing microelectronics components, flexible batteries, flexible displays, flexible circuit boards, ASIC design houses and so on. Let me give you an example of the display we used for our first prototype. It is an electronic paper display which in 2011 was a good choice. However the power consumption parameters and limitation for further miniaturization brought us to cooperation with a display developing and producing company based in Europe. We started to work with this group of top world specialists in the flexible display technology. The targeted display specifications were beyond our expectations and were unheard in the display industry. The project was too ambitious and required huge investments. The display developing company was not able to deliver this wonderful display for our card and went bankrupt. The Bitcoincard development team lost nearly a year on development on adapting all the card systems for the new display integration. Eventually we had to redesign our card completely. I will be bringing some new prototypes to the www.bitcoin2013.com and can show to anyone interested in person. After this display story, we learnt our lesson and are looking only into already established technologies to which our card requirements can be imposed in a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost. Even with such cautious strategy the components we utilize are pioneering in relevant fields.
We’ve made a lot of progress. We clearly see now how to solve all these problems. We’ve been asked multiple times to start collecting money with the Bitcoincard preorders, but rejected this approach, as many hardware startups in the Bitcoin world have already compromised this business model. The trust in our Bitcoincard is vital for the whole project success. We will announce the Bitcoincard roll-up date when we are 100% sure that every of you will be holding a quality product. It’s been a long wait and we really appreciate your patience. Our team works tirelessly to make sure that wait is worth it. Thank you so much for your help and support.
Bitcoincard development team.