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Re: Accu-Touch Design

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, April 12, 1999 11:58 AM
Subject: Accu-Touch Design

To all interested parties;
    We have now completed the first phase of the Accu-Touch redesign (design specification).  I have attached a coy of this design to this email.  Please review and email me your comments.
Here is a brief overview of the major points of the design:
  • Weigh less than 15 lbs..
  • Data is stored on a PCMCIA (PCCard) memory card similar to the Accu-Vote but with much more capacity. Therefor the election that the Accu-Touch processes is based on the memory card inserted (again like the Accu-Vote).
  • All connections, except the smart card reader, will be behind locked panels.
  • Internal battery backed up system good for at least 1 hour hopefully up to 8 hours (dependant on cost & weight)
  • Has two PCMCIA connectors, one for the 'memory' card the other for expansion such as modem.
  • Slim ergonomic enclosure
  • Has Infrared port for communicating with Pollbook
  • Has smart card reader
  • Headphone & keyboard connector for VIPs units
1.    Data must be stored on more than just one media.  We have had some field experience with this problem.  The fact that we have had a disk on chip has saved our bacon in Tarrent County, Shelby County, and in Gaston County.  Since we do not have  paper ballots to reconstruct the votes casts as the AccuVote unit has if its memory card fails, The Accutouch will be at the mercy of that one memory card without a backup.
2.    The smart card reader, dialup modem, and Ethernet connections should be built in to the unit.  Since the addition of these options are typically an extremely low cost item at the chip level integration to the new mother board, it just makes since to include these at the time of design.  Also a prerequisite for the engineering team is to design the interfaces so that the actual driver chips for the above options can be replaced to alternative vendors with some minor strapping changes on the mother boards and by swapping out the chips from sockets.
3.    I feel that the PCMCIA should handle an additional flash memory or hardcard PC card to handle expanded database requirements for early voting  jurisdictions that will require all ballots for all precincts to be available on each voting station.  I believe that without this functionality our unit will most likely be precinct specific only.
There are a few items I really would like some feed back on. They are:
Two screen options:
We are currently considering supporting an 10 inch and a 15 inch LCD. The 10 inch is about $400, our cost, less expensive therefor approx. $1200 list price difference. Is this a worthwhile option?  Any ideas as to what percentage 10" verse 15" system we will sell. Should we consider supporting a larger screen 19 inch? How much more could we sell this for ($100, $500, $1000, $2000) ?
If we design the unit to the maximum size screen first then the smaller screens can be adapted with same foot print just by adding a fill in panel, thus keeping the same look and ergonomics, but reducing the cost of the panel and being competitive.  The solution for the cabling issue is to copy our present design idea of incorporation a transition interface between the LCD and touch panels and the mother board.  If we make sure that whatever TFT and Touch driver chipset we put on the mother board supports multiple sizes of touch screens and TFT panels.  I know that ELO touch systems and Samsung TFT panels are available in many different sizes.  Also, if we need to change driver chips, the engineering must be in place to allow us to change these with strapping options and chip replacements as I mentioned before.  We do this today with standard PC mother boards when changing from an Intel processor to a Cyrix processor just by changing the chip and some straps.  I feel that 15" should be the largest screen we should support as a built in.  All other should be supported as a external add on via external D-sub 15 pin SVGA connector for the video, and a USB port for the touch.  If we do this then we can maintain a window open for us to accommodate future special requirements.  Again buy eliminating the internal panel we can engineer and panel replacement that (a.) maintains the look of the system and also (b.) provide the external ports needed to interface the external monitor and touch device.
Internal printer
Should the printer be internal or external?  The disadvantage of an internal printer is that is places some serious restrictions on the ergonomic design of the enclosure due to paper roll size.  It also impacts the power supply requirements since printers consume a fair amount of power.  The advantage is cost.  If most units need a printer then the internal printer is the way to go.  So what percent of units are expected to need a printer?
I see the permanent need of an internal printer just as we need it for the Accuvote.  A possible solution to the power supply and battery issue is that during power outages we may not be able to print.  Make sure that the power supply only backup critical power for voting and memory protection.  Making the power feed to the printer a none backup feed should do the trick.  For the ergonomics concern just take a look at today's small and compact hand held calculators in Office Max.  We just need to open our minds to lighter, cheaper, and alternative printing conventions, since the final result is to print a paper backup of a file that we can reprint on demand at anytime.
Landscape verse portrait screen orientation
The expected 'normal' operation of the unit will be in portrait mode (higher than wider) but we have had requests for 'landscape' mode.  For those places that want landscape would the current 15 inch Accu-touch screen work or do we need an even larger screen? How many units potentially will want the landscape screen (100, 500, 1000, 5000, etc) ? How much more will they pay?
My thoughts on this is that if anyone needs Landscape mode it is probable due to Row Voting requirements and if this is the case I feel that the smallest should be a 17" Landscape panel or monitor.  As described above if you remove the internal panel and replace it with a mockup panel that serves and a platform to the external monitor or panel with the necessary connections this will be the way to go.
My final thoughts,  marketing and sales should be careful of adding functions and requirements to the products just because a customer wants it.  The response to a inquirer on a added feature or functionally should be, " Engineering must review this to insure capabilities".  This will provide Global a way to place a price and a value to this option.  Even if you decide to discount it later, at least the customer will know that it was not part of the basic unit and it was not free .  We must have a basic unit that everyone agrees to ( i.e.. 1 hour battery vs. 8 hour battery... Who is right?).  We must not redesign the unit on every sale.   Leaving some options for the future just leaves the door open for upgrades (for a price) in the future and a continuing capability of forcing your customer base to keep up with the Jones when they see a new product three, four, or five years down the road.
Also, we must sell what we have now instead of always waiting for the next product improvements.  If we keep promising next years products what happens next year when we are working on the following years upgrades and so on...  When will it be good enough to sell.
Anyway as Dennis Miller would say " I could be wrong"
If you have any thoughts about this now is the time to let me know.