Designing a Production-Ready Prototype for Olive Innovations

For over 10 years, AdvaNova Consultancy, has been busy deploying award-winning products to market with an expertise in electronics and product design. 

Initially a forward-thinking PCB design and embedded software development house, the company has since cultivated an influential consultancy service, capable of delivering powerful solutions to suit specific needs.

Here, Jonathan Lee, Consulting Director at AdvaNova, reflects on a project the team worked on with Olive Innovations. 

Connecting with Olive Innovations

This project started with a simple, direct communication from Paul Oliver. Paul runs Olive Innovations, a company that specialises in security hardware and software, such as embedded hardware firewalls.

On this occasion, Paul wanted an electronics design house to work with him on creating the prototype for a new product, specifically a security dongle. 

The word dongle is used nowadays to cover a pretty wide range of items that plug into some port or other on a computer, but the original meaning – and the meaning in this case – is a piece of hardware that you plug in to prove that you are the authorised user you claim to be. In very high security environments, these can even be used as a prerequisite to interact with the computer at all. In other cases, a high-price piece of software may ship to you with a dongle, which you have to insert before being allowed to fire up the application.

AdvaNova engineer working on a computer

The Requirement

Olive wanted a flexible USB-based security dongle to offer to firms needing an authorisation element to their own product. One of the things our customers value is that we can offer an all boxes ticked solution – electronics layout, writing of associated software, even industrial design of the housing for the item. That’s what Paul needed, a production ready prototype, not a big, breadboarded proof of feasibility.

In most ways, the job was actually pretty standard – take the customer’s specification and turn it into the printed circuit board layout and the embedded software, or firmware, wrapped up in a suitable small case. The difficulty was in the timeframe: this sort of job is normally done over the course of a several months, but Paul needed to show the item quickly, so we would have just a few weeks. 

We are known for rapid development, and I think that’s why Paul came to us, but this one was definitely a hard deadline. We studied the specifications carefully before committing, but decided we could deliver.

The Outcome

It was certainly all hands on deck for this job – I ended up doing quite a lot of the design myself. But when we surfaced from this intense period of activity, we had what Paul had been asking for, per the tight deadline, and we were very relieved when he was more than happy with the results.

Commenting on the project, Paul Oliver said:

“AdvaNova Consultancy were the most accommodating, professional and pleasant company to deal with, above all others I work with to have our prototypes built. They could relate to my circumstances, and regardless of whether I needed one device or a million the service, I think, would be the same, and that shows the professionalism and support they provide.”

AdvaNova Engineer working on a circuit board

Despite the initial, tight deadline, customer feedback identified the need for some added functionality, so we wait to see the final outcome, but we’re always happy if the customer is happy.

AdvaNova Consultancy offers a range of services including end-to-end design and manufacture, PCB schematics and layout, industrial design, PCB production and testing. We’re also experienced with software development, especially for embedded systems. 

If you’d like to discuss a project, please get in touch.

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