Part 1 A Little Background
About three years ago I was contacted by a friend who had just taken delivery of “His Baby”, a brand new Mercedes Benz. He was excited about his new car and wanted to share his experience with me. I was happy to go for a “test drive” with him later that day.
The vehicle was loaded with all of the options one could want in a high-end automobile. However, the feature that struck me most was the back-up camera system. When the car was shifted into reverse, a sharp rear-view image was displayed on the in-dash monitor. How handy! No more hoping that something or someone was lurking unseen behind your vehicle!
After that introduction to rear-view cameras, I checked out the aftermarket for one for my modest sedan. There were certainly plenty to choose from, but they all shared common characteristics which I found to be undesirable from my viewpoint.
First, they had to be hardwired to a 12V power source, usually the backup light wire in the rear light wire harness. This required drilling holes in the bodywork for not only the camera mounting bracket but also to run wires inside the trunk space. Wires also had to be fished through the vehicle to a fixed monitor that also had to be mounted on the vehicle dash and wired accordingly. Quite labour intensive and perhaps a project to be done by someone a bit more “auto-competent” than the average person!
Fast forward six months to the day that I traded my sedan in for a new Ford F 150 pickup truck. It came with an optional rear-view camera and obstruction back-up sensors in the rear bumper. The day that I used that back-up camera, in one go, to flawlessly align my ball hitch on the truck to the hitch receiver on my utility trailer without (a) ramming the receiver (b) hopping in and out of the vehicle a dozen times to align the hook-up, I knew I had to design a rear-view camera system that,
· Could be securely mounted by anyone in seconds as long as one had a flat, clean, dry mounting surface
· Would eliminate any and all wiring by having its own built-in power source and by using its own dedicated wireless network to securely connect to a monitor
· Uses any existing Android or iOS Smart-Device as an HD monitor to save on costs
· Has a built in obstruction sensor to warn of impending collision
· Has a tiltable (+/- 45 deg.) high quality HD camera that allows for mounting on any non-vertical surface
At one time, I was the CEO of an engineering and manufacturing business known as Advanced Cryogenic Systems. We manufactured a substantial processing line that converted polymerized rubber materials into fine powder for re-use, using liquid nitrogen as part of the process. In those days, I had a good working relationship with the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Western Ontario.
So, once I had decided to design and manufacture the prototype system now known as the Hindsight Rear-View Camera System, I approached the folks at the UWO Engineering Faculty and asked them to advertise within the faculty for positions of electrical and electronics engineers for my new project. I was overwhelmed with the response and eventually was able to select two outstanding young graduate engineers who shared my vision.
For more than the next two years, we all have laboured away in my newly equipped prototyping shop in Port Stanley to create “our baby”, the Hindsight Rear-View Camera System. During that time, I was able to convince a third talented individual, a gifted Android and iOS applications programmer to join the team which became Eric, Paul, Dan and myself. After the first six months, Dan, an electrical engineer, had to move on. He needed a paying job.
As of today, Renntech Engineering, now morphed into 4SIGHT SYSTEMS, consists of myself, Eric, John and Paul. All of us have poured heart and soul, plus a lot of sweat, to create the Hindsight System, completely without pay or compensation.
This evolution has seen the production of dozens of iterations not only of the physical case and base units, but also the circuitry and electronic components.
The chemistry requirements of the “Super Sticky” Polyurethane base plates alone took over a hundred chemical formulation efforts to get it “just right”.