When you drive, there are a lot of things to be aware of: the speed that you’re driving, the amount of petrol left in the tank, the state of your brakes or battery; but one thing that is often neglected is the very thing that connects your vehicle to the road – your tires. Tire pressure is one of the most important aspects that we should be aware of that affects our safety while driving, yet it is not as simple to do so as checking on your dashboard every once in a while.
But with this product, it can be.
The FOBO Tire is the first product ever to use the Bluetooth 4.0 advanced Smart Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and works directly with Android and iOS devices at the same time. But we’re are not talking about the entire bulky tire. In fact, FOBO (For Our Better wOrld) is a tiny sensor that is placed on the tire, and connects the tire to smartphone.
FOBO Tire works round the clock to monitor your car tire pressure. As it comes with internal batteries which last up to two years and are easily replaceable (2xAA for the In-Car unit & CR2032 for the sensors), it works even when the car ignition is switched off, ensuring that tires stay properly inflated the whole time. The tires come with an intelligent In-Car monitoring unit that works simultaneously with the connected smartphone.
It also allows users to set different tire pressure limits for their front and rear tires (e.g. 30psi for the front and 35psi for the rear) with the touch of a button. Also, users will still get a tire pressure alert even if their phone screen is locked.
FOBO Tire is designed and produced by Malaysia-based company Salutica Allied Solutions Sdn. Bhd. It is lead by James Lim, company CEO, and the management team, who are the owners of the company through a recent management buyout. Lim has been in the electrical and electronics product and service industry for the past 30 years and even managed various multi-national companies before becoming the CEO of Salutica, a position he has retained for over 10 years. For the past 14 years, their existing business is in designing and producing Bluetooth consumer electronic products for international brands.
FOBO products range from FOBO Tag, FOBO Max and FOBO Tire, which all are testaments to their determination in producing products that are intelligent, feature-packed and are second to none considering its price.
FOBO Tire App
The FOBO Tire comes with an app that provide users the convenience of monitoring up to 20 cars. The app’s quick sharing feature also allows sharing of the same FOBO Tire of a single car with up to 100 smart phone users! If your friend or family member decides to borrow your vehicle, they would still be able to easily receive information regarding the tire pressure on their smartphone as well.
The installation is very easy as well, as the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) installation is less than 5 minutes without the need for professional help. You won’t even need to change or modify the tire’s existing pressure valve – just screw the sensors onto the tire and it is good to go!
There is even a theft deterrent system in FOBO Tire. Each FOBO Tire is locked to a specific owner’s FOBO cloud account, and the user will be notified by the app in the event that any tire sensor has gone missing.
FOBO Tire On Indiegogo
FOBO Tire decided to launch its campaign on the world’s most established crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo. The campaign started on September 1, 2014 and is scheduled to end on October 16, 2014. With 28 days left as of September 19, they have already raised a fruitful number of USD$110,430. That’s 394% of their original goal of USD$28,000. The three-fold increase in funding is expected to continue growing further, with the potential that this innovative product has to offer and the market it caters to.
“Looking back, choosing Indiegogo.com was the right platform to engage the international audience, especially when you come from Malaysia where opportunities to showcase your product internationally are limited,” Jonathan Ho, Business Development Senior Manager of Salutica Alied Solutions told Vulcan Post. “The feedback and suggestions we’ve received so far are very constructive, and gives us the insight we needed into what our customer wants. We think we have managed to deliver the right product to the right audience at a right price.”
According to statistics provided by the team, low air pressure in tires accounts for an estimate of 78,392 crashes annually in the US alone. Without a tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), you would lose an average of 6% of tire life and use 2.3% more fuel. By maintaining the optimum tire pressure with FOBO Tire, you can save an average cost of US$32 a month in fuel!
The Inspiration Of FOBO Tire
Ho told us that tires are the only contact between the vehicle and the road.
“It made good sense for a simple yet smart product to monitor something that is so important in our daily lives. Being car nuts ourselves, we’ve always looked for a better way to monitor our tire pressure as it affects safety and handling.”
However, he adds that traditional tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are either costly or would not send off a warning when a deflated tire is present and the car ignition is switched off.
With the advancement of Bluetooth technology and the widespread of smartphone usage, Lim and his team decided to merge these two together. By doing so, an intelligent and affordable Bluetooth smart TPMS was born. By incorporating a smartphone, the sensor’s settings can be controlled and customized through an Android or Apple phone, allowing for numerous user settings that were previously too complex to be achieved. Most importantly, it provides a 24/7 monitoring system that a traditional TPMS could not cater for.
Process Of Developing The FOBO Tire
Ho wrote to us that they had in the past designed a traditional TPMS but realized that it had several technology constrains that limited its use. However, when Bluetooth 4.0 BLE was introduced, they started designing FOBO Tire in 2013.
“Our experience and expertise in TPMS and Bluetooth allowed us to design FOBO Tire with an advanced yet robust Bluetooth TPMS. Our experience in production and manufacturing also meant that FOBO Tire was tested to the level and standard expected of any international brand so that we can present our customers with a quality product.”
Numerous prototypes were created before arriving at the current design in 2014 that was ready for mass production. At the same time, they launched a campaign on Indiegogo.com for crowdfunding.
“With our R&D team consisting of over 30 people, we are proud to say that the creation of FOBO Tire and its app is a 100% in-house creation, which enable us to fine tune every design stage until we are satisfied with the results. We hope consumers will be equally satisfied as well.”
Challenges Faced And Overcome
When inquired what challenges they encountered while creating the FOBO Tire, Ho quickly informed us that the challenges they faced were inevitable, as this product is the first of its kind.
“Although other TPMS claimed to have a Bluetooth function, they only use traditional radio frequency sensors that does not allow you to monitor the pressure after you turn off your vehicle’s ignition.” says Ho. “Aftermarket TPMS would need a central unit that is plugged into the car’s electrical socket. So basically we had to design everything from scratch without any reference to existing designs.”
Furthermore, FOBO Tire was made to be compatible with both iOS 7.1 and Android 4.3 and above. It is common that Bluetooth devices cater either only for iOS or Android exclusively.
“The Eureka moment was when the first prototype created actually worked to our expectations.”
Getting Ready For A Big Bang
FOBO Tire will start shipping worldwide in November 2014 as promised on Indiegogo, and they may be arranging to have an official launch with Malaysian distributors at the same time. Plus, they are also in the midst of collaborating with other parties to set up a worldwide distribution network for FOBO Tire.
In the hope of making FOBO Tire available worldwide after its campaign on Indiegogo, their next imminent plan is to release a FOBO Tire version for 2-wheelers.
Through our email correspondence, I sensed a deep appreciation from the FOBO team of each other’s efforts, since Ho only sent me one picture upon request, which was the team’s picture taken in the engineering lab. Jonathan Ho and James Lim have given plenty of insights and are not reserved at all in explaining the product that they have full confidence on. Being a full in-house developed product, this is sure to be an eye-opener for Malaysia to the world.
“We believe in doing what we know best, and we aspire to be second to none.”
– FOBO Team