Customer Success Stories

MistyWest and TZOA: Better Together

“I’m constantly doing design reviews with MistyWest’s mechanical engineers, and with Altium, importing and exporting is so much easier and more natural. I’ve never had any issues sharing files with mechanical engineers.”

Vlad Lavrovsky
CTO
TZOA

Vancouver’s MistyWest have been helping visionaries turn their whiteboard and napkin-sketches into saleable, scalable products since 2013. The engineering design consulting firm has worked with clients of all sizes, from Amazon, Google, and Intel to startups, developing everything from wearable sleep monitoring devices to polar bear trackers.

One of MistyWest’s clients is TZOA, a Vancouver-based startup seeking to improve air quality through continuous monitoring. TZOA produces compact, affordable devices that are highly sensitive to particulate matter, providing detailed information about how to reduce everything from allergens to potentially deadly viruses.

As Oleha Riden, Principal Founder at MistyWest, explains, “TZOA have been with us for four years now, and we’ve supported their project as it’s evolved from a wearable air monitoring device to a compact monitoring system that fits inside central air conditioning and heating systems.”

Vlad Lavrovsky, CTO at TZOA, elaborates, “Our flagship product, the HAVEN Central Air Monitor, is a device that measures the overall quality of central air systems. It screens for particles, volatile organic compounds and instructs energy recovery ventilators inside central air units how to operate for maximum efficacy and safety.”

And, through all of the project’s twists and turns, MistyWest and TZOA have relied on Altium Designer to move from concept to creation.

"With MistyWest handling the prototyping and production, we’ve been able to pivot and scale—and I don’t think we could have done that if we both were not using Altium Designer.”

Vlad Lavrovsky
CTO
TZOA

From Iteration to Iteration with Altium Designer

When TZOA first approached MistyWest, their product vision was a small sensor that could measure air quality, ambient light, atmospheric pressure, humidity, temperature, and UV exposure in one easily wearable device. Users could then connect the device to a smartphone to receive detailed recommendations and action items.

MistyWest and TZOA developed the device working collaboratively, relying on Altium Designer. “MistyWest did all of the proof-of-concept work and encapsulated all of the product development for us, as the product evolved,” Lavrovsky explains.  

MistyWest produced a pilot production run of prototypes, according to TZOA’s exact specifications. The finished product debuted at the 2015 Wearable World Conference; a stationary version, also produced by MistyWest, was included in Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2015.

While the device was well received, the TZOA team quickly realized that they had to do more than just tell wearers about their outdoor air quality—especially when people spend over 90% of their time indoors. And so, TZOA and MistyWest pivoted to create a new system from scratch.

TZOA's products require uniquely shaped PCBs, presenting MistyWest with design challenges from the start. “The form factor of our PCBs is way outside the norm,” Lavrovsky details, “And the boards are very difficult to create and require constant back and forth between our team and MistyWest.”

The new device—the Central Air Monitor—was designed to fit inside central air and heating air ducts to continuously measure air quality. The patented design measures air quality for entire homes, monitoring for everything from air purity to air filter efficacy.

Altium Designer made pivoting to a new design much easier. “We really rely on the quality of our design file exports,” Lavrovsky continues, “I’m constantly doing design reviews with MistyWest’s engineers, and with Altium, importing and exporting is so much easier and more natural. I’ve never had any issues sharing files with mechanical engineers.”

Altium Designer’s easy integration with SolidWorks empowers effortless real-time collaboration with TZOA’s team. “Working with Altium Designer and SolidWorks has always been smooth sailing,” Lavrovsky reports. “We can go back and forth through every aspect of the PCB design in 3D view while keeping the actual design process in-house. With MistyWest handling the prototyping and production, we’ve been able to pivot and scale—and I don’t think either of us could have done that if we weren’t using Altium Designer.”

With MistyWest and Altium technology, TZOA are confident they’ll continue to meet their goals, ensuring that more and more people can breathe a little easier.

Breathing a Little Easier

With MistyWest’s help, TZOA have been able to refine their signature product, as well as their overall focus.

“TZOA’s goal is to improve the air quality for one million people. To reach this goal, we have to ensure our designs can be produced in the 100,000s of units within a five-year time frame,” Lavrovsky explains.

Two new designs in the HAVEN ecosystem—room air monitors and central air controllers—are currently in development with MistyWest, but TZOA are eager to move beyond just residential air quality monitoring and begin to develop larger devices for use in commercial settings.

With immediate plans to implement Altium 356, the world’s only cloud platform for printed circuit board design and realization, the collaboration process on new Haven models will be even simpler and faster. Lavrovsky is also excited to explore Altium Designer’s new co-design capabilities, empowered in full by the Altium 365 platform.

To help meet these ambitious goals, TZOA and MistyWest are looping in a major Canadian manufacturing company to help ramp up production. “A year ago, production was challenging, but now we’re in the market and scaling up production,” Lavrovsky reports, “And we’re eternally grateful for MistyWest. Without their support over the past four years, we wouldn’t be here.”

With MistyWest and Altium technology, TZOA are confident they’ll continue to meet their goals, ensuring that more and more people can breathe a little easier.

With MistyWest and Altium technology, TZOA are confident they’ll continue to meet their goals, ensuring that more and more people can breathe a little easier.