030 iPhreaks Show – Building Hardware for iPhones with Joel Stewart


Joel Stewart (twitter github)
Andrew Madsen (twitter github blog)
Jaim Zuber (twitter Sharp Five Software)
Rod Schmidt (twitter github infiniteNIL)
Charles Max Wood (twitter github Teach Me To Code Rails Ramp Up)

00:30 – Joel Stewart Introduction

VP of Engineering at Canopy
Video Game Development

01:06 – Building Hardware

Apple’s MFI Program

04:34 – Connectors
09:11 – Challenges of connecting a device through a lightning adapter

Case Certification

11:39 – Build Process
17:24 – Detection

Sensus SDK Developer Portal

21:54 – Bluetooth 4.0

Pebble Smartwatch

25:12 – Security
26:59 – Development Interface
29:22 – Sensus Release

Market Strategy
Leap Motion


i-calQ (Rod)
Flow DJ Software (Andrew)
MIKMIDI (Andrew)
Bluegiga (Andrew)
QONQR (Jaim)
Airbnb (Chuck)
Delta Airlines (Chuck)
Harvest (Joel)

Next Week
High Performance Core Data with Matthew Morey
ROD: The audience is listening.

CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 29 of The iPhreaks Show! This week on our panel, we have Andrew Madsen.

ANDREW: Hi from Salt Lake City!

CHUCK: Jaim Zuber.

JAIM: Hello from Minneapolis!

CHUCK: Rod Schmidt.

ROD: Hello from Salt Lake!

CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. This week, we have a special guest and that’s Joel Stewart.

JOEL: Greetings also from Minneapolis!

CHUCK: Joel, do you want to introduce yourself for those of us who may not know who you are?

JOEL: Sure! I’m currently a VP of Engineering at a company called Canopy up in Minneapolis. We’re a startup that is focusing on iPhone accessories. We do everything from hardware all the way up to stack to applications, then we part with a lot of content providers to integrate our functionality with our hardware inside their applications as well.

Me personally, I’ve been doing the new game development for the last 6 or 7 years and I recently gotten involved in hardware. And yeah, [that’s] about it.

CHUCK: Awesome. So you’re going to make a video game controller for the iPad?

JOEL: Oh, yeah.

CHUCK: What kind of hardware things are you building?

JOEL: Well, our first product is called Sensus, and it is an iPhone case. It adds pressure sense with multi-touch panels to the back of your iPhone and also the edges. So, it can rename with functionality such as squeezing to scroll as opposed to using a thumb on the front of the screen to drag the contents around; you can just squeeze the edges and the content will automatically scroll.

We do a lot of other things such as moving that touch and drag functionality to the back, moving environments as oppose to characters in the front; just adding an extra layer of interactions for your applications, for your games through the hardware. It’s attached to your iPhone through the Lightning connector right now, and it is part of Apple’s MFi program, which is made for iPhone. You have something to plot for and it has the entire slot for documentation that general public typically doesn’t get access to.

CHUCK: Interesting. Is there some kind of trick to building hardware for iOS devices?

JOEL: Certain metric. It’d be similar to most hardware products you create. You have a lot of industrial design (basically the plastics), a lot of mechanical engineering which is identifying what materials go into it, electrical engineering laying up those boards, firmware development, software development. I know it’s a much larger undertaking in just writing software, but process is a lot longer, it’s a lot more expensive, and it’s not easy, that’s for sure.

ROD: Do you have to provide a driver to go with the hardware?

JOEL: For the most part, no, since we’re talking through Apple’s Lightning connector; most of that protocols are already established so they provide a lot of documentation as to how to talk to the core operating system, iOS,