“Hardware design has traditionally been a very siloed process – like document editing 10 years ago. This kills inspiration,” says Zak Homuth, co-founder of Toronto startup Upverter. Last week, the company announced the launch of their new SaaS product which helps hardware designers, particularly in the consumer electronics space, to collaborate in the cloud.
With Upverter, users can share parts libraries, manage version control and more – all in real-time. Basically, it’s like Google Docs for hardware design. Homuth says "this will help to speed-up the time to market for hardware products."
The Upverter tool is free to use and doesn’t require you to download anything. The company claims to be the first of its kind to provide a way to collaborate on a schematic design via a web-based editor.
Upverter was founded by three veterans in the hardware design industry: Zak Homuth, Stephen Hamer, and Michael Woodworth. After just over a year of development (including 4 months working on the prototype in Homuth’s parents’ basement, and 3 months working in Silicon Valley with accelerator Y Combinator), the company finally launched last week at the DEMO fall 2011 conference in Silicon Valley.
Upverter generated a lot of press at the event and managed to be included on ReadWriteWeb’s list of their “10 favourite startups” from the conference.
So far, “the response has been surprisingly positive,” says Homuth. “At our peak, we were seeing one to two user account sign-ups per minute. On Twitter or Facebook, that would be nothing. But for a next-generation engineering tool, that’s pretty cool.”
What’s next for Upverter? “We’re working on a number of additional tools including a PCB (print circuit board) editor – to take hardware design to the next level,” says Homuth.
We’ll be watching to see how Upverter impacts the speed of innovation for hardware design.