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Ask HN: Any hardware startups here?
509 points by guzik 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 700 comments
Amidst the sea of software startups, I'm keen to learn who in our community is braving the often-quoted "hardware is hard" mantra. Whether you're working on IoT, robotics, consumer electronics, or something completely off the wall, please feel free to share below.

Remember, no venture is too small or niche! It's the passion and innovation that counts.

We are building the world's highest temperature heat pump. It can reach 1000℉, when other commercial heat pumps usually reach a maximum of 320 ℉.

It is a big deal because factories have to rely on polluting natural gas to produce their process heat.

We estimate that it represents 3% of the world’s annual CO2 emissions and a $10B+ annual market opportunity.

We are currently building a 5kW prototype at 480℉/250C to cook french fries for McCain (world's largest manufacturer of frozen potato products), our industrial partner for the first pilot.

If you would like to support our decarbonization efforts, feel free to email us on contact@airthium.com or to invest in our crowdfunding! https://wefunder.com/airthium

This sounds very cool. Wait, no, hot.

In a factory setting, there is a bunch of heat wasted in other processes, e.g. waste heat from machines. Is this heat collected and fed into the air source?

Stirling engines like ours can go at cryogenic temperatures too :) They are used to reliquify natural gas at LNG terminals, but we decided to focus on industrial heat for now.

You are correct. In our case, we can go from ambient air to the desired process temperature, but the coefficient of performance will be much better if we have access to a waste heat source (the higher temperature the better).

What is the COP of a heat pump operating against this temperature gradient?

Quoting from their linked website:

> Our heat pump can generate up to 3 times as much heat as a resistor, using the same amount of electricity.

Though it doesn't mention the temperature at which this is achieved, only that the range is from 160 to 550°C.

we published a calculator if you would like to dig deeper! https://airthium.github.io/airthium.com-calculator/

The COP gets lower as the temperature difference increases as you can expect.

For those, like me, who didn't know this term:


> The coefficient of performance or COP (sometimes CP or CoP) of a heat pump, refrigerator or air conditioning system is a ratio of useful heating or cooling provided to work (energy) required.[1][2] Higher COPs equate to higher efficiency, lower energy (power) consumption and thus lower operating costs.

That 'up to 3 times' is a very generic sounding Carnot cycle number. It's about the upper limit for heat pump performance, so it's not a very meaningful number IMO.

At 1000℉ (811K) the maximum achievable COP against an ambiental (300K) source is about 1.6, limited by the second principle of thermodynamics.

And that's the absolute theoretical maximum, you would be happy to breakeven in practice. Unless you have access to waste turbine exhaust, geothermal water, solar collectors or something along those lines, I don't see any practical application where the marginal energy savings would recover the capital costs of the pump at 1000F.

But hey, they have software modeling and venture financiers, so I'm sure they are not overselling it and it's all excellent and double plus innovative.

You are correct, even though your last sentence wasnt necessary...

Please consider a use case where an industrial user install a thermal storage like this one https://www.kyotogroup.no/technology

They may need CO2 free process heat at 400 ℉, and use a thermal storage at 800 or 1000℉.

Our heat engine can pump more heat than resistive heating (heat pump mode) during charge. During discharge, it can convert heat to electricity from 1000F to 400F, and use that electricity to power a heat pump (and produce more heat). We can "magnify" the storage both ways.

We don't need to go to 1000F soon, there are so many applications we can decarbonize along the way. We could lower the temperature and do cooling+heating at the same time for example.

the maximum is given by the carnot cycle, which has COP=T_high/(T_high-T_cold) so from room temp 25°C to 250°C it is 2.3, but this is the theoretical limit

Which is why for some pool heat pumps you get claimed numbers of around 9, with the fine-print that the air temperature has to be higher than the water temperature.

I’m having a hard time understanding the seasonal energy storage component. Can you dive into this a bit more? I wasn’t able to find much on your website.

I work in the energy industry and this is one of the largest issues that utilities (and plenty of others) face (and even go as far as installing thermostats that they can control in their customers’ homes).

I’m wondering if there’s anything that can be done to advance the 2030 timeline? Both from an investor and potential customer perspective, that’s a lengthy timeline for such an interesting value prop.

We are building more than a heat pump, it is a novel stirling architecture, that is, a machine that converts electricity to heat, and heat to electricity.

The idea is summarized on this picture https://imgur.com/a/f5T1NYi and is as follow: - solar/wind energy would be converted to heat using our engine and stored into a thermal storage unit (molten salts or sand). This would provide up to 30-40 hours of energy for day-to-day storage. - all year long, the unused energy is converted on-site to green ammonia (with H2 electrolyzers and a small haber-bosch plant) and stored in liquid form at -30C. The ammonia is then burned via a low NOx external burner, something other ammonia engines/turbines can't do well yet without expensive filters, and the combustion heat is turned to electricity with our engine.

This form of storage is much cheaper than storing hydrogen above ground. It competes with H2 storage in under-ground salt caverns without the geographical limitation. The efficiency is far from exceptional, but it is CO2 free and is only used as a "joker" a few days per year.

The whole system is a functional replacement for a natural gas fired power plant.

A company like Form Energy started in 2017, raised hundreds of millions and I think their first pilot is coming next year. Cash is key but not always the issue, I am glad they are helping storage companies with initiatives like the Long Duration Energy Storage group and all their lobbying efforts

This all sounds excellent, but I'm wincing at how many different pieces there are that are either (a) semi-unproven or (b) have a really high capital cost to value ratio. And they all have to work for the business to work.

> H2 electrolyzers

Do you have a platinum-free solution for this?

> small haber-bosch plant

Is this a thing already? Wouldn't this be more directly marketable into the fertilizer industry, which needs fewer of the rest of the pieces?

> is only used as a "joker" a few days per year

This is very bad for capital efficiency, sadly.

why not rely on the grid those few days in a year? I kind of get self sufficiency is the goal, eventually, but for now sounds cheaper to go gradually?

My dude, never has this image been more relevant https://datavizblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/map-full-siz...

This is really cool. Can you talk about some interesting challenges/problems you encountered?

We started in 2016 with just an idea, and we probably encountered every problem you can think of !

- hard to raise funds for large deeptech projects (thank you YC and Wefunder for unlocking that one!)

- a corrosion issue in 2019 that nearly killed us (we found a way around it after months of brainstorming and completely got rid of corrosion issues)

- we had to build our own physics algorithm for very specific problems, and ended up selling the software we use internally to DENSO (a large japanese company) which funded the development. See https://tanatloc.com

- tackling a market that doesnt exist yet with a seasonal energy storage solution (a change of engine architecture allowed us to use the same engine but for industrial heat pumps, an existing market much easier to tackle)

- finding the right industrial space,

and so on :)

> ... we had to build our own physics algorithm for very specific problems, and ended up selling the software ...

Like a simulation algorithm? Can you elaborate on what kind of algo and the problem it solved?

I can't go into details for confidentiality reasons but we published a paper last December on one of the simulation models : https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-031-12019-0_...

On the frontpage right now is a video about water desalination: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=36602909

It got me wondering, would your heat pump be a solution to improve the efficiency of those plants?

I'm very interested in anything else you can share about the corrosion problem you solved. Wet, hot ammonia must be awful.

How did you get into conversation with DENSO? Channels through YCombinator or investors?

at a mathematical conference :)

Those chips should come in special packaging saying they're eco friendly

ball grid array perhaps has the right thermal properties

started reading here... it took me a while to figure out where the "chips" where coming from :-D

I agree! I would love to see the carbon intensity of each product I buy or some kind of scale from A to F.

plastic packaging, of course

Plastic packaging is more eco-friendly than any alternative. Lightweight, carbon sink, and as long as it's not dumped in the ocean, has a very small and environmentally friendly waste footprint.

The dumping in the ocean part is an issue in countries with under-developed waste management infrastructure, not something inherent to plastics.

Are the plastics in your blood responsible for the content of this post?

I think there may be an angle here, but it’s distracting to so drastically minimize the environmental impacts

I don't see how glass, steel, or paper packaging would be superior. Paper is far more carbon intensive to produce (think an order of magnitude), and for food products it must be treated in such a way that it is not perfectly biodegradable wood pulp, but rather lined with plastic or plastic derivatives. It also doesn't work very well for frozen foods.

Glass is extremely carbon intensive to produce, and it weighs an enormous amount meaning a greater carbon footprint to ship products from factory to table. Not to mention it is impractical for goods like freeze dried potatoes mentioned above.

Steel cans and other metal packaging is lighter than glass, but also heavy, and does not lend itself very well to frozen foods, but mainly to preservatives. It is also carbon intensive to produce and lined with plastic. Glass and steel are recyclable, but this is carbon intensive and only works when people are educated enough to recycle and then the infrastructure exists in the first place.

To cap this off, microplastics are not yet even proven to be harmful. The scientific literature is "no" at best, and "inconclusive" at worst. It is not some proven hyper-carcinogen that many laypeople get the impression it is.

I think a lot of people have some sort of pavlovian response to the word plastic done by 25 years of fair and unfair media coverage, without thinking about actual plausible alternatives to it.

"Plastic is bad, we should use X" is an interesting comment worth exploring.

"Plastic is bad" is a statement. Yes, everything in the world has pros and cons, but stating cons in a vacuum isn't insightful.

The issue is plastic doesn’t reasonably biodegrade when left alone and doesn’t recycle well. We can make transport use cleaner energy, but we seemingly can’t make plastic meaningfully more disposable/reusable.

Plastic does take a long time to decompose, but to the extent this is actually a major issue isn't clear to me. A plastic bag takes 20-40 years to decompose per the BBC. That landfill you use will be there long after we're dead, certainly more than 20-40 years.

The main issue is whether it makes it to the landfill in the first place, but this isn't particular to plastic. .

Quite a lot of the ocean plastic is either fishing gear or dumped from ships, and much of the rest is indeed from countries with a culture of littering in the river and no public waste disposal infrastructure to counter that.

Or, serious suggestion, dehydrated potato skin, held together with starch. Fun gimmick anyway.

this sounds like an interesting product and the team clearly has impressive credentials.

I am very sceptical of crowd funding however, I think these are largely terrible investments for consumers while explicitly targeting people who are not accredited investors.

what made you go that route instead of pursuing VC funding?

It is a combination of things. We hesitated a lot to do a crowdfunding but : - a corrosion issue nearly killed us and we had to "reboot"

- our team was in full lockdown in France for a while and we could not prototype as easily

- in 2021 we were still focused on seasonal energy storage, a very capital intensive endeavour, a market not ready and a very risky project.

- the rules for crowdfunding changed in 2021 and the use of SPV (special purpose vehicles) made it possible to raise big + have one line on the cap table.

We had to derisk the project further to be able to attract VC funding (patent, prototype, LOIs, financial model, etc.) and we ultimately followed the advice from another YC founder and friend who went the crowdfunding route with success. A lot of crowdfunding projects look like outright scams and probably are... but I feel that the SEC did a good job protecting the public. You cannot invest more than a certain amount if you are not accredited for example. Things are certainly not perfect, and getting better year after year.

This is fascinating; I love hear pumps! Can you comment on why this might not have been done before? Maybe new materials make it possible, or it’s marginally more expensive but can be done with clean energy, which people have a premium on now?

Good question! I would say advances in numerical simulations, cheap renewable energy, and a lot of luck/perseverance (we would not have found this technology without spending 3 years on the first idea that didn't work out)

We're building a closed loop artificial pancreas (think dialysis but for blood sugar) for hospital use -- the first of its kind in the US. There's a massive unmet need; all critical care patients, and all people with diabetes in the hospital could benefit. Studies have shown you can achieve a 30% reduction in mortality, and 25% reduction in length of stay, in addition to the hours per day you save nurses from managing blood sugar. It's a win/win/win on the lives saved/cost savings/nursing time saves, so we think it'll be pretty important when we hit the market!

Sad to see how few other hard healthtech people there are here, they seem to be few and far between.

Amazing! I'm a doctor and founded a software company (https://www.piahealth.co) - even for software as a medical device (SaMD), the regulatory hurdles are tricky and time-consuming, I imagine it's at least 10x for hardware. I have huge respect for what you're doing and hope it makes a big impact.

Can you tell me the difference between your product on the types of prescription cgm + insulin pump combos like dexcom/tandem which offer some level insulin control?

I'm just curious. I run an xDrip set up and I've played around with a couple of the "DIY" closed loop setups.

Our device is for inpatient use, so it's a little more complicated than your typical DIY APS you might be used to as a T1/T2. You have to account for all kinds of different drug interactions, perfusion issues, undergoing surgical procedures, etc etc. The biggest single difference is that we use dextrose as a way to quickly recover from lows (like an automated orange juice dispenser).

Because we're in the hospital and can access IV lines, we also have rapid access to data, and the drugs we infuse get taken up much quicker (5-10 minutes for insulin, 3 minutes for dextrose).

The terminology is overlapping but the space is very different than outpatient glucose control.

Why use dextrose instead of glucagon for lows? B/C patient liver function may be compromised more often in the in patient setting?

In addition to liver function, you can't always rely on patients to have glycogen stores to draw from.

Additionally, dextrose is inexpensive, more available (rural county hospitals don't stock glucagon), easier to mix and store, has a longer shelf life, and most importantly, has a far quicker response time.

Glucagon has promise for outpatient work, where the volume of fluid is much more of a factor, though the stability and cost are still unsolved problems. The patients we treat are in a bed, monitored periodically by trained healthcare providers, with routine access to a pharmacy.

TL:DR Hospital control is just a different beast!

Cool - check out my company: https://replica.health - We automatically log a bunch of data for diabetics based on things like activity and location, and provide an LLM powered search engine for that data. You can ask our system questions w/ natural language like "show me data about whenever I get low post-exercise". If theres any crossover, I'd love to chat about it.

I'm mostly curious about the modelling that goes on under the hood; are you just using deep learning, or also integrating something like UVA-Padova to fit your absorption curves?

Hey, my wife has diabetes, and she's had really awful luck with automated blood sugar monitors. Somehow their readings are always off by insane amounts vs a finger poke

Have you done much research into that area? Do you know if there's a brand we should check out or any common gotchas? (I can't find much reasonable info on this online due to my poor Google skills and all the bad info out there..)

Consumer finger pricks are actually less reliable than CGMs these days (relative difference of up to 25%, vs 10% for something like a Dexcom G6). That being said, a few things you can try:

1. Wait 24 hours, the CGM needs time to adjust to your body

2. Don't overcalibrate in the first 24 hours, or when sugars are in flux. You'll mess up the factory calibration which can lead to worse accuracy over the session.

3. Try a different insertion site. Behind the arm and on the abdomen are the two most common ones.

4. Talk to your endo

5. Call your CGM maker, they will almost always overnight you a replacement if it's demonstrably failing.

We had great luck with the latest generation of Medtronic pumps (the 700 range).

It used to be that they (older models) were off by huge margins, and the auto modes had to be constantly calibrated against as it was often not only off, but suggesting/dosing dangerous amount in either direction.

Nowadays, SO calibrates a few times a week and the pump is extremely reliable. Longer periods of highs are usually due to infusion set leaking (eg. line snagged and pulled the needle).

Like the other reply, it takes a day or two until the system is reliable.

Sensor on back of the arm, infusion on stomach is the combo we've found to be the most safe and reliable sites. Make sure you rotate as often as possible and avoid putting them in the exact same spot.

My wife has Diabetes and recently switched to a CGM. She also saw the insanely inaccurate results.... BUT it improves. After a few hours the numbers get more accurate as it adapts to you. Now she does a thing where she overlaps the old sensor with the new sensor for a couple of hours every couple of weeks. She also still occasionally uses the finger prick method because its results are more indicative of where you are going in the short term.

Wait until your wife's blood sugar is stable to apply a new sensor.

Calibrate it several times when her blood sugar is stable. (Stable means not changing. I want to see a line on the CGM like this "-------------" not one that is going up or down.)

Make sure your test strips and CGM sensors are in date and have been stored at reasonably indoors temperatures.

Source: My wife and I both use CGMs. Our common medical issues were something we had in common.

I was working in medical devices for sometime. I remember Medtronic doing artificial Pancreas. How is yours different?

Theirs is ambulatory, i.e. for people to wear in their daily lives (mostly T1 and insulin-dependent T2). We're targeting a market that currently doesn't exist -- hospitalized patients, specifically people in critical care and people with diabetes on the general care floors. Similar terminology but very different markets!

Their latest AID (automated insulin delivery) system is killer, btw, some of the best results I've ever seen for ambulatory!

Ah ok. I have worked on medical devices in hospital environments i.e the recent Roche Glucometers similar to Cobas.

>Their latest AID (automated insulin delivery) system is killer, btw, some of the best results I've ever seen for ambulatory!

Yes, their medical devices are really good and also very interesting especially their pacemaker implants and also DBS implants for Parkinsons disease.

There was another fantastic device called VAD pumps by Thoratec for which I worked on a PoC. What a crazy tech that is. Thoratec got acquired by St. Jude and finally by Abbott.

This is fantastic, good luck to you. We need more of people like you.

That's awesome! At least in my limited experience developing health care hardware is much more challenging when there isn't a clear "regulatory path" that has been done before. Which makes it harder for completely novel devices (eg versus making an improved pacemaker which already has been approved)

The good thing for us is that artificial pancreases are regulated not as one device, but as three separate (interoperable) devices: the pumps, the sensors, and the control software. Only our control software is under a de-novo pathway ("totally new thing" pathway), everything else is 510k ("we know what this thing is" pathway). We also have Breakthrough Device designation, which really accelerates the regulatory timeline

Through your work have you heard about anyone working on something of a more permanent replacement?

I hear a lot—relatively speaking—about insulin regulation, but in my case the issues are enzymatic. Susceptible to pancreatitis (hopefully all it is).

Any word on the street?

At any rate, keep it up!

Something like an implant? Unfortunately I think we're probably (and this is a wild guess) 50+ years away from being able to fully replace all the hepatic & metabolic functions of a human pancreas in some kind of implantable. They're incredibly efficient, and also horrifically complex, and if you mess up the balance they keep, it's pretty much a death sentence (see: pancreatic cancer).

Controlling glucose is far easier, by comparison; just one input, and two outputs.

Sorry to hear about your pancreatitis, hope you can find a treatment plan that works for you!

I'm doing well, so no worries!

I had no idea those two functions were so different in scope. Nature is a never-ending source of amazement for me. Thanks for the info!

Sounds super cool, are you guys hiring?

Not atm, but Soon (TM)

We make the world's best baby car seats. https://www.kioma.us Fatherly Magazine calls it "The Car Seat of the Future". It's been crash tested, flight inversion tested, flammability tested and mom tested. It is full of patented innovations to make kids safer and parenting more enjoyable.

It required lots of material science, production techniques, supply chain adjustments, and a surprising amount of software (to model dynamic stress, and to run the robot and CNC trim paths). Once you get to the point you can clearly articulate your BOM and Specs to a manufacturer for MOQ=50, things get a lot easier. At the prototype stage we built everything ourselves, but now we use OEM manufacturers.

The price is insane man. The best of the best car seat according to lots of reviews(Cybex Anoris-T) is "only" £599, your thing is significantly more and I don't see why it's any better.

Edit: sorry, let me rephrase that - not insane, just hard to justify.

I am always entertained by the extra amount people are willing to pay for the tiniest bit of risk reduction (or appearance thereof) for baby and kid related products.

For example, paying an extra $900 for a car seat, but then taking the kid on unnecessary car rides, which are magnitudes riskier than not taking the kid in a car. If you are willing to pay that much for such an immaterial decrease in risk, surely you should avoid taking the kid in a car unless absolutely necessary.

Although, I guess some of it is also showing what you can afford.

Our risk assessment is as emotional as is logical.

When it comes to driving specifically, my friends will buy a 50k SUV to feel safe, but will then buy cheapest plasticy tires or refuse to join me in advanced safety class.

That being said - kids are vulnerable, fragile, and don't make their own decisions. As a newish parent myself I 100% understand the extra pressure that puts to make the best possible decision for them.

I mean I know people who seem to get in an accident once in a while — sometimes completely their fault — and other people who have driven 20 years everywhere and clearly drive better and react quicker than anyone else I know.

So by all means, someone doing something or not doesn’t mean much.

People can do both, though: drop unnecessary rides and also have the safest seats.

I don’t think kids are even that fragile. In many ways they bounce back from more than adults!

And some of it is buying convenience. The peace of mind from knowing you have the safest seat allows risking more rides which frees up impromptu errand scheduling. Whether the math actually works out is orthogonal to the psychological effects.

It's about convenience. Refraining from taking certain car rides to reduce the risk is inconvenient. But for a wealthy customer, there is no difference between buying car seat A or B, but if A is $900 more and slightly safer, it's logical and just as convenient to choose it.

Ya - if I could afford this and didn't, and the kid died - I'd always wonder if the better seat would have saved them. I have a really good seat (this didn't exist), and also (probably equally...or more importantly?) a very highly rated car.

Safety is a great way to sell this product, though the price may limit who buys it.

What counts as an unnecessary car ride for you? If I'm going to the grocery store and there's someone else to watch my toddler, I don't need to take her with me, but I think the bit of stimulation of getting out of the house and seeing a new place, new experience, and new people has a benefit that outweighs the almost inconsequential odds of a major car accident as I drive there and back on roads with a speed limit of 35 MPH.

"The baby's okay, they're safely nested in a unibody machined aluminum enclosure. I've been told those are indestructible."

Thanks, though, for taking a look!

I used to know some of the Cybex people (it was a European company), and they congratulated us on beating their best safety scores at the time. Now Cybex is owned by an Asian conglomerate (Goodbaby).

The Kioma difference in materials quality and performance is both quantifiable and qualitative. We have to charge a price that covers our work in design and production costs. But I completely get it if the Kioma seat is too expensive for your preferences.

As a side note, if you want to be blown away by prices check out the $10,000 cribs (https://nurseryworks.net/collections/cribs/products/gradient...), $1000 bassinets (https://www.happiestbaby.com/), and $5000 strollers (https://silvercrossus.com/category/strollers/).

Thanks for the feedback!

You can tell that guy's not a parent, haha. It's a shitload of money, but at least in this case I know that I'm getting value out of it. It's very easy to piss away a fortune on badly-made Chinese plastic trash in the world of baby accessories.

>>You can tell that guy's not a parent, haha.

I find it really interesting that you reached that conclusion. Me and my wife spent what feels like an absolutely insane amount of money on a car seat, definitely more than any of our friends have spent(the beforementioned Anoris-T, because as far as I can tell it is the best seat you can buy) and the idea of spending $1000 on a car seat just doesn't fit in my head. It's just too much.

>> but at least in this case I know that I'm getting value out of it

Really? how?

I am a parent, and in my opinion, spending $1k on a car seat is completely unreasonable. (We bought ours used as part of a package deal with some other used baby stuff. It would have been nowhere near $1k when new.)

It depends.

The thing about the baby market is that, because it’s driven by emotional decisions, there are buyers at every price point - and it isn’t even directly related to wealth. Some people get into debt trying to make this harsh world safer for their newborn, even though safety benefits taper off as the price increases.

For me, I picked the lower bound and my wife picked the upper bound on the price range we were looking at. She is frugal above all else, I am safety conscious above all else. We met in the middle and found one that suited.

It required some negotiation to begin with though, because her upper bound was lower than my lower bound - and was firmly in the “dodgy unbranded wholesale, sold on a website with an invalid SSL certificate, claiming to be UK based but registered to a Chinese address” territory.

When buying used car seats, remember to check the "use before" date that is marked on it. They only claim to achieve the designed strength/protection for a number of years. At least in Europe.

What is that based on other than them wanting to sell more seats? I'd imagine the materials don't erode, otherwise how safe can it even be in the first place?

Nothing. It's a marketing gimmick to depress the used market. The only way they "expire" is if the regulations change, which does not happen often.

I thought that was an American thing since I couldn't find it on our car seat

So ours has a manufacture date and I know people look at it and if it's older than 3-4 years they won't buy it off you, but as far as I can see that advice isn't anywhere in the manual of the seat. Maybe some seats "expire" in some way, but it sounds like an urban myth.

Don't think it's an urban myth, this article shows a car seat with an expiry date next to the manufacture date.


What do you think about spending $1k on a phone?

My question is why it's $1000 and not $999.

Agreed, my only thought on the $1000 price tag was that I already have a seat that is well rated and don’t want to throw away or donate a perfectly good $800 car seat/stroller system.

Like cheap end car seats when we looked were in the 200-400 and nicer ones were in the 600-1200 range.

There are many brands of car seats available at Walmart/Target for ~$100, plus or minus $25.

What’s the value? Lol I’ve used the same $250 one for 3 babies now and 0% of them would have noticed “high end materials”.

Just a note that the infant ones have a 5-year lifespan from date of manufacture. Not sure if it’s the nylon straps or the foam mechanical characteristics.

We were gifted a hand me down and I had to cut the straps and bag it.

We ended up handing down the two infant sized ones we got that were the same model.

Also any car seat involved in a collision needs to be disposed of.

I dislike waste but you don’t mess with car seats and helmets.

Luxury balls, bargain babies.

Is there a standard safety test for this stuff? When I did some research a couple of years ago (my daughter is 1.5 years old now) I found some test by an european institution that had the Axkid One+ on top, so I bought that one.

The US standard is FMVSS 213. In Europe, seat manufacturers currently must comply with standards UN R44/04 or UN R129 (i-Size).

As a parent - the only way I’d buy this is if I knew I could resell it later and it’d hold its value.

What is the “expiration date” on your seat?

I have no experience whatsoever with baby carseats.

But I get so frustrated with garbage on the market, and the struggle to find decent quality goods. I've created my own where they don't exist (eg. current limiter for plugging in laptop power brick on a plane, untrasonic eyeglass cleaner and dryer, tongue-activated mouse button) which is hugely labour intensive. If I need your thing, your thing is as good as you say, and you can sell it to me for less than that costs me in time, materials and lost opportunity, then for me the math is simple.

Looks nice and easy to clean. I don't know why the regular "Target car seats" have so many creases and folded layers, it's a major PITA to clean :)

Some are better than the Target basic ones, but even the "good" ones are way too complicated to clean, and it's like they've never even considered a kid might barf whilst in one, and some of the effluent will disappear into some weird crevice never to be revealed again.

This feature is totally underrated in industrial design. I've had to clean many fridges over my years and every time I find horrible black mold in all sorts of crevices caused by poor design decisions and decisions based solely on cost.

Thanks! All the cushions are removable (velcro) so you can hit it with a hose and separately wash the cushions. The interior chassis surface is smooth, which is a big point of pride for us as it is easier to clean.

The strap is a single point of failure. Each mount should be attached to the seat brackets individually. Those brackets need to be braced and not just bolted through plywood.

Having patents on innovations is necessary, but if you have innovations that will save kids lives, you should find a way to make those broadly usable by all.


This this TOS usual for a piece of regulated safety equipment?

Terms of service The legalese.

The KIOMA Car Seat is provided “as-is, where-is,” without representations, conditions or warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. The recipient or buyer is solely responsible for determining the appropriateness of using the KIOMA Car Seat.

Not sure what you are referring to about a strap being a single point of failure.

Patents > We don't work for free, and we can't buy groceries by giving away years of R&D. Companies are welcome to license our safety innovations, and they know how to reach us. The invitation to do so is on our website.

TOS > Kioma seats come with an industry standard 1 year warranty. The website TOS are different than the product warranty that comes with each seat. Thanks for the heads up though. I'll have the marketing team clarify that.

“We don’t give years of R&D away for free” is a pretty flippant response. You make money selling car seats, and if another company can produce better seats at a lower price then consumers win and lives are saved. Which is ostensibly exactly what you want to happen? Otherwise why even be in the car seat business?

That’s a pretty naive way to look at it. A lot of patented products have a positive impact on the world, should all of these be shared?

What if a small player tries to break into a market with a nee solution? They should give away their IP to the big player purely because it has a positive impact on the world?

Just because their product is more safe doesn’t mean they automatically have to share this with everyone. They put time and a lot of effort into this, and that should be rewarded. The world rewards people with money. Sure some people might be happy with knowing they saved more lives, but eventually most people just want to be rewarded.

> A lot of patented products have a positive impact on the world, should all of these be shared?

Yes. It’s bad to criminalize innovation. Most patentable innovations are not so unique but only a logical next step given prior inventions.

Also, patents favor the big players in any market because they have the money and the will to grind down any newcomers with legal action. The upstart with fewer resources should always be in favor of a level playing field.

You underestimate the revolutionary role of patents in allowing to innovate in the open.

Do you want to know what is the active substance of a new medicine? Do you want other researchers to know it and critique it, and build upon it? And for FDA to have easy time learning everything about the medicine? Allow the medicine to be patented.

Otherwise every other factory would start producing it, having not paid anything for years of R&D. Nobody would be able to secure a loan or investment for said R&D, and especially stuff like clinical trials.

The alternative is trade secrets, quakery, and loss of knowledge forever if a particular project fails.

Patents have their downsides. The fee structure could be different (progressive with time), the duration can be discussed, some areas should rather not be patentable (large families of substances, or software), but the idea is pretty sound and important.

Likewise, the big players in any field spend vast resources on R&D to produce the better products, and the patent is the only thing that makes that sustainable.

It’s all well and good wanting the world to be a safer place, but every company is beholden to its shareholders and debtors. Resources spent must be recovered or it all falls down.

Strange how all those smaller companies filing patents are so idiotic to work against their own interests. Somebody should tell them.

If it was obvious, why didn’t some big company already do it?

Cmon be nice to the car seat people :). Let’s say it cost $10 to develop this groundbreaking car seat technology, and $1 to make a car seat, so the company charges $1.50 to make up their investment in 20 sales. If they gave away their patent, then another company (who didn’t have to pay that initial cost) could sell the same seats for $1.

This is episode 1000 in our favorite series: why and how capitalism strangles innovation

The flip side is that R&D is a lot easier and cheaper when you don’t have to worry about accidental infringement. But your last paragraph suggests we’re already in agreement.

In any case, I’m fine with companies making the pragmatic choice to pursue patent protection. But being defensive and flippant about it isn’t a good look. It’s much better to argue for instance that you put yourself at a disadvantage if you’re the only business that doesn’t patent their innovations, and that a patent portfolio also has a defensive function.

> The flip side is that R&D is a lot easier and cheaper when you don’t have to worry about accidental infringement.

Not when you're a hardware company. You typically rely on external vendors and long feedback loops between iterations for development and have to pay people along the way and in-between. Your remark that someones is morally obligated to give their innovation away before R&D costs are paid for, or really at all outside of a licensing model, is so far left field it might have a seat with the cars.

I mean, you could just be more flippant in response and suggest that the best car seat is the one without a car in the first place

Thank you for the support. You have eloquently explained the innovation conundrum.

> The strap is a single point of failure. Each mount should be attached to the seat brackets individually.

That's not how our Recaro seat works, nor our original baby seat, nor the booster for our older son. Each of them attaches to the seat anchors using a single strap with clips on either end, one on a length adjuster.

This design looks pretty much the same; the plywood is just protection for the car upholstery, and doesn't act as a load-bearing element.

Yes to this.

I wonder if there would be a market for in-built hard modular mount points for the back seats. Like, let's say I'm Tesla. I build in mount points for the back seats. And then I sell accessories for the mounts. Tesla branded baby seats. Child seats. Storage/shelf solutions. Dog cages. Pizza delivery rack. Who even knows how many things one could put back there

It is called Isofix and most modern cars are have those (mandatory in US and EU):


Like isofix? I think even Teslas have that. Or do I misunderstand?

Your Tesla manual may call it Latch (the US version of EU's Isofix). Same thing but different name.

Adding to the list of “same thing - different name”: in Canada it’s known as UAS (universal anchorage system)

>if you have innovations that will save kids lives, you should find a way to make those broadly usable by all...provided “as-is, where-is,” without representations, conditions or warranties of any kind

no, individuals should play by the sames rules of the collective as everybody else.

There is nothing wrong with you advocating and/or successfully changing the rules of the patent system so all players must behave this way, but trying to shame a small entrepreneur into being boy scout is ihmo bad for all of us. I bristle at all the moralizing people do on the daily.

I'm advocating for "think globally, act locally", just without puritanism or maoism.

Any seat belt in an automobile is a single point of failure by your logic. Seat belts are fantastic tech, though. Seat belt webbing is designed to take 11,120 Newtons (FMVSS 209). Textile science is pretty cool.

if you have innovations that will save kids lives, you should find a way to make those broadly usable by all.

One way would be for you to buy or license the tech and give it away. Is that something you're considering?

We're happy to license out tech.


Don’t think that’s fair - unless they’re selling them out of a boat in international waters to avoid regulation

I am a bit skeptical dad but damn these look nice! The price is justifiable, although personally I'd hesitate because the seat is only good for about 2 years, and the seat seems to weigh higher than Nuna products which we got.

More like 18 months or less based on the height and weight limit, completely impractical pricing

You totally underestimate how much baby fever tax first time parents are willing to pay using the logic "once in a lifetime only".

This is exactly what I meant when I said the price is justifiable. It is designed to be advertised as a premium product to an exclusive set of customers.

Sizing > Realistically, the seat fits average kids up to 3 years. At the 95% percentile on height most kids will outgrow a rear-facing car seat at 18 months (the growth of the torso is the limiting factor). From a labeling perspective we have to be careful, though, because the US regs on sizing are really terrible. Keep in mind the regs were written in the 1970s when we were still teaching Americans to wear seat belts. So there are 2 "options" in the US regs: 22 lbs 12-month test dummy, and 39 lbs 3-yr old test dummy. Lots of manufacturers claim their seats fit the 39 lbs mark, but they squash the test dummy's legs into an unrealistic position for a child (passes the test by the letter of the law, but misses the spirit of the law). Basically, we designed this seat to fit kids until they are ready for a front-facing seat.

Pricing > It isn't for everyone. The Kioma seat is like a Maserati, but some people prefer a Ford Taurus. We have to charge a price to cover our production and design costs, and there is a quantitative and qualitative difference in the materials and performance of a Kioma car seat.

> The Kioma seat is like a Maserati

Perhaps not the best brand to invoke for a product where reliability is paramount. If you want to convey both luxury and reliability I'd go with Lexus (fancy Toyota).

;) Point taken.

$1000 is too much for Target and Walmart, but for Beverly Hills, the Hamptons, etc. that's nothing. If your living room has space for a Peleton bike, this will fit right in.

You don't put your Peloton in your living room like some peasant if you're buying a $1000 car seat.

"room" for the bike was metonymic for "room" in your budget

What if you live in a $9000/month 900 square foot condo in the bay area?

Lots of couples stair-step their kids. It’s not 18 months for a lot of families. It’s 4-6 years with hand-me-downs.

We actually sold our 2 year old nuna for nearly 75% of it's original price to another family. It had 10 year warranty and not recall/accident. I doubt how much these would go for secondhand. Which is not an issue if you stair-step the seat.

Baby seats have expiration dates and it’s scary how many parents fall for the emotional manipulation around that. It makes the used car seat market dead as well as hand-me-downs

>it’s scary how many parents fall for the emotional manipulation around that

Are you saying that the expiration dates are bogus? I knew that rated sports helmets and similar products had expirations, but not car seats. Maybe I'll go check the handed-down seat my son is using...

They're basically bogus but put out because people don't bother inspecting the components and the makers really like selling additional ones.

And basically all thrift stores and other used good dealers won't touch them because of the perceived liability.

I wouldn't care about an expiration date, but I avoid the hand-me-down car seat market for the wreck reason. The carseats are only designed to be in one. I personally wouldn't know how to definitively say it had never been in one.

Hand-me-down, to me, connotes reuse within the same (possibly extended) family.

I'm fine sharing our used carseat with my 6yo only child's grandparents so that they can more easily help with my nieces and nephews (2 weeks, 1yo, 3yo, 4yo, and 5yo - oof!). My wife and I know it's not been in an accident, we would not misrepresent that to the detriment of our own family.

But I would not buy one from even the most trustworthy Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace listing imaginable.

I personally would love tamper-evident components within a carseat - think "Tip and Tell" [1] but for 3-axis accelerations. Impact-sensitive product labels exist such as those at [2], but I'm not convinced that the same accelerations and crashes that would damage polystyrene impact-absorbing foam would set off a glass ampule designed to break when you drop a rental camera lens or something like that.

1: https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-866/Damage-Indicators...

2: https://spotsee.io/impact

NHTSA guidelines on re-use post crash are at https://www.nhtsa.gov/car-seats-and-booster-seats/car-seat-u...

I'm the kind of guy that thinks I might be able to sell it for a good price, if it is high quality, after the use. Making the total money spent way less. But that begs the question, why not rent these out for 18 months at a time?

renting assumes previous users properly maintained these seats. Car seats are "supposed" to be disposed of in the event of a collision due to possible cracks or other fatigues in the structure not necessarily visible to the end user. If you rent, you have to assume the seat was not in a structurally significant event. That's a lot of trust.

Given how these car seats are advertised as having high-tech materials, I wonder if the manufacturer can install a crash detection module in them.

The foam doesn't stay good for long, I think the car seats we had expired after 6-7 years?

Also car seats can't be used after a crash, even if visually they looked ok. Maybe they could be refurbished (new foam, etc), but obviously this is a liability concern and probably isn't worth it.

Most likely because you can't guarantee how it has been used once the first customer has used it. And that will lead to major legal problems if e.g. it has been in a crash and is now compromised, but nobody noticed, then failed to protect the 2nd child.

Thanks! We worked really hard on the design to be functionally useful while visually striking. We are fans of Bauhaus design.

Weight > The total weight is probably similar at 10 pounds even. The company you mentioned likes to quote partial system weight and doesn't include the weight of their canopies and inserts. We've already made the lightest car seat in the world (2017, carbon fiber) at 5 pounds all in, and one of the lessons we learned was that adding weight can be a good performance trade if done well.

Just like motorbike helmets?

For anyone else who doesn't know off hand what MOQ stands for...

BOM: bill of materials, aka list of what it takes to manufacture a product

MOQ: minimum order quantity, the lower limit the manufacturer will accept

We also have a baby seat that can pretty much say all the same things. There must be tons of these on the market with swivel etc. What makes this better than the rest?

1. Safety (* see below)

2. Ease of Installation (* see below)

3. Bauhaus Design

4. 1-Hand Operation

5. Ease of Cleaning

6. Built in Rocker (a full one)

7. Quiet (* see below)

* Safety > The US regs are pass/fail so lots of seats on the market have mediocre test scores that don't reflect the real danger of severe concussions. For those of you interested in digging into the obscure world of Head Injury Criterion: greater than 390 HIC is linked with severe concussions (Source: Proposed limits for HIC From Kleinberger et al., 1998, and Eppinger et al., 2000.) Kioma seats do a number of things (crumple zones, etc) to create a lower (better) HIC score. By comparison some of the top sellers in the industry are at 600+ HIC.

* Installation > The regs don't have standards that really address this, but the incredible complexity of legacy car seats has led to a lot of installation errors by parents and caregivers. This can lead to some really unpleasant outcomes and injuries. We designed KIOMA to minimize use and installation errors by making things as simple and intuitive as possible. This seat is optimized for lap belt use only (no base required). The companion base has a number of innovations too that make it intuitive and easier to use.

* Quiet > There are no clicking or snapping or button parts that wake a sleeping child (with the exception of the harness buckle). This is the quietest baby car seat made.

Regarding safety, do you have any links around the test results for the Kioma, or other car seats? You've mentioned a lot about the safety scores/test results in comparison to other car seats, but I couldn't seem to find a single mention of that stuff on the website? I also tried to see if something like Consumer Reports had a review of a Kioma car seat (either the current one or the carbon fiber one) but they had nothing.

Test Results > NHSTA used to publish their test results of all car seats, but no longer do so. FMVSS 213 (the US standard) tests for Head Injury Criterion (36 millisecond), Excursion, and Peak Acceleration in a frontal car crash. So keep in mind the utility of the results has limits, and doesn't test for a whole lot of things that are part of real-world usage in and out of a car. *Big grain of salt.*

I'll give you some real numbers and leave the comparison for you to do (lawyers get itchy if we do the comparing directly). Our carbon fiber seat's best result is HIC 197 in FMVSS 213 testing with a Crabi 12-mo old test dummy. Our friend Eli at Magic Bean's reviewed it in a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGaU9R6jHCQ The current car seat for sale is of a similar class but doesn't have the $2500+ price tag of a carbon fiber seat.

If you're still curious, we can take this off HN: drop me a line at support@kioma.us and just mention HN and your HN profile name.

Why only lap belt? Isofix is so easy.

You get both: isofix/latch as well as lap-belt. Each car seat is sold with an accompanying Latch (aka Isofix) base so you can roll with whatever you prefer. However, lap belts are ubiquitous and work really well.

Reasons to use a base:

1) Convenience. It is nice and fast to click-in, click out with a car seat. Super fast and easy.

2) Protect the seat cushions of the car.

3) More constraints on pitch rotation. Which can be good or bad depending on how the seat is designed and rotation is used.

Reasons to use a lap belt only (no base):

1) It is intuitive. Everyone -- including grandma, grandpa, and the babysitter -- knows how to use a lap belt (as opposed to a latch/isofix base).

2) It is ubiquitous. Every automobile and plane seat has one. So if you're hopping into an Uber, no problem.

3) Lab belts are designed to stretch which is actually really good in a collision. The stretching lowers peak acceleration, and therefore lowers the likelihood of injury.

4) Total system weighs less, which translates into less force in a collision (F=ma).

Many thanks for the thoughtful reply! Coming from Europe here where it’s been on every car for about 20 years so has become very much the norm.

Belt (1) troubles me slightly in that it’s easy but not necessarily intuitive enough for grandma to get it right every time (and indeed many don’t). The base has the great benefit of being definitively installed correctly (all goes green / stops beeping).

The reported numbers on belt errors are pretty terrible: https://www.besafe.com/child-car-seat-misuse-study/

A good dialogue is always fun. Thanks for bringing some science to the thread.

You've hit the nail on the proverbial head regarding misuse. Misuse is a problem across installation types: belt-only, and with Latch/Isofix. Some people get so confused they install with both methods.

Lowering misuse is a top design goal. Stated differently: we want to make things so simple that people have to work hard to make a mistake.

You are absolutely correct that belt misuse is a problem (per the cited GDV study). Latch misuse is still a problem too, though.

The studies make clear that misuse is common across installation types, to various degrees. The studies don't do a great job of exploring why the misuse occurred (The 2005 NHTSA study below did ask some good follow up questions). For example, Why did someone not use the belt path correctly? Was it because the slot was too narrow? Was it not visually obvious? Why did someone install both the Latch/Isofix anchors onto the same mount point? Why did someone leave too much slack in the Latch/Isofix anchor or the seat belt? Etcetera. The reasons why people misuse a seat are very valuable to improved public education and improved product design.

NHTSA's 2005 large field study found 39% of CRS (aka baby car seats) were incorrectly installed with Latch. Many of those had multiple errors (e.g. twisted belt plus latch connector turned upside down). Table 11 has the details in https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.gov/files/latch_report_12-...

10 years later, NHTSA's 2015 study with NCRUSS data found misuse was still persistent: "Overall misuse is considered as having at least one defined misuse present in the car seat or booster seat – the seat may have one or multiple misuses, where one misuse has the same contribution as multiple misuses. The overall misuse is estimated to be 46 percent with a 95 percent confidence interval ranging from 39 percent to 52 percent. By car seat or booster seat type, estimated misuse rates were 61 percent for forward-facing car seats, 49 percent for rearfacing infant car seats, 44 percent for rear-facing convertible car seats, 24 percent for backless booster seats, and 16 percent for highback booster seats." Source: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/...

So for all those parents out there, read your seat's user manual. The user manual will make it clear how to properly and effectively use the seat belt or the Latch/Isofix anchorages.

Isofix is easy in theory but if you don't know exactly where the fixing points are, then it's like fumbling around in the dark. Sometimes it's hard to see the fixing points while trying to get the seat on.

I think that situation is something many parents recognize. Usually when the baby is screaming etc.. wonderful.

Once you've click the base in, it's easy next time though. Yet, my wife still considers fitting the seat as the man's responsibility. :-)

Parent here too, with three different seats (two are rotating, permanently affixed to the base, 0-3yrs, one is a removable base, 0-~1). All of which seem to have little torches on the isofix lugs, and the little one feeling infinitely more stable when using the isofix and leg as opposed to just the base. I will say the permanently affixed ones / bases weigh a tonne. Being able to click in and out was a delight when we were able to use the little seat.

I'm not sure if its a brand thing, but the isofix bolts on my last cars (Volvo, BMW, Audi) were all really well signposted, and in little plastic housings which you couldn't miss, even fumbling around. The ones on my wife's Ford are just sort of hiding behind the cushions, which doesn't seem as elegant.

Toyota Land Cruiser here. They are sort of visible if you have proper lighting or if it's during the day. They hide behind leather flaps so best bet is to feel your way to them.

"Mom tested" might not be the best thing to say if you want moms to buy your product

Someone further down the thread had a similar negative response to that phrase and suggested maybe "parent tested" as a substitute? Thanks for the feedback!

Yeah, "parent tested" is good.

Just gonna throw this out there - your pitch is awesome, and “mom tested” put me off. Maybe I’m just a Californian but “parent tested” is a bit more 2023

Great feedback. Thank you! I'll pass it on to the marketing team.

I've read the whole thread , I've looked at your product.

It looks good , the materials seem fine , but have nobody heard about ISOFix? At least in europe is standard in new cars.

The last baby seat that I used , manufactured by MassiCossi , had a better base than yours, with an adjustable aluminium leg and ISOFix links that kept it sturdly attached to the seat frame.

It was not cheap too, around 500 euro I think.

It was also removable with the press of a button , from the base and from the trolley

Edit: I missed a comment referencing it, then it seems strange to me that a seat sold as somewhat of a luxury item doesn'support that

Glad to hear you found the thread interesting.

Kioma does provide an Isofix detachable base, but in the U.S. it is called Latch. Same thing, different name. All U.S. infant child restraint systems (CRS) must either have Latch attachments permanently to the CRS or must provide a separate detachable Latch base.

So we do provide a Latch base. We don't do a base load-leg though, because there are some cool things done with rotation to dissipate energy :) This is one case where the EU regs specified an implementation rather than a result. Otherwise the EU (r129) regs are very well written.

I know it’s easy to be critical, but I want to provide feedback. That placement into the base looks difficult and frustrating.

I see two main issues.

1. That clearly requires the installer to apply non-trivial force to lock it into place. Beyond it being awkward, a Graco Keyfit is a drop in, no force install. Amazing.

2. In most vehicles, fire-aft distance is a huge, limiting factor. It seems difficult, if not impossible to tell if the seat has latched into the correct position, without additional tilt. The Keyfit base makes this obvious since it will not latch into place at incorrect angles.

Feedback is always welcome. Thanks for checking it out! I may botch the response to your points, but I'll give it a try below.

Force > To use the base, yes some force is required. In our opinion, you want force to prevent false-positives on latching. False positives are a big problem with bases, as people perceive latching to have occurred when it actually has not. Visual latching indictors are not sufficient, in my opinion. Our experience and design encourages audio, visual, and tactile feedback to minimize misunderstandings and false positives.

Please note that while a base is convenient (people like the quick click-in, click-out of bases) it is not needed. You can just use the seat belt. Roll with whatever you prefer. Personally, I just use the seat belt.

Fire-aft> I have no idea what you mean by "fire-aft distance". But it sounds like you are worried about angles. We designed the seat to encourage good angles at rest, whether with the lap belt alone or with the companion base. Most automotive seats have a 5-10 degree upward angle. A rear-facing infant car seat should be resting in place at no lower than a 30 degree angle, and no higher than a 45 degree angle. If you go too high it increases choking risk but conversely improves the crash test scores. If you go lower it is better for a baby at rest and has less choking risk, but worsens the crash test score as more force is distributed into a smaller area and less rotation of the seat is possible. All this to say, there is a lot of variability across vehicles and seats in a vehicle, and to the best of my knowledge no car seat base accounts for all the permutations well. Regardless, angles are important because babies (especially younger ones) are still developing the muscles that hold up their head and have less head control than it might appear. For the parents out there, the final back angle should be approximately between 30 and 45 degrees as measured from a level plane, but please refer to your seat's user manual for its instructions. In most scenarios and vehicles the Kioma car seat should rest at an approximate 40 degree angle.

Competitor Comparison > We try to avoid direct comparisons with other companies, because it makes the lawyers wince. However, while I'm biased, from my personal experience I can say I'd take the Kioma any day over the competitors. There are many reasons we built this product, and none of them included "existing [insert company name] does a great job at this!"

> "fire-aft distance"

Sorry, darn auto-correct on my phone.

"Fore-aft" distance is what I meant. Essentially, the distance from the back of the child's seat to the driver's seat. In nearly all vehicles we own (including mid-sized SUVs), it's a close fit to install a baby carrier. In some cases, the front seats will be pressing against the carrier (unavoidable in some cases). With a full base, it's very obvious when the carrier is being pushed up too far by the contact and we need to adjust.

Ah, ok, and thanks for clarifying. The Kioma base is low profile (vertical height), and only 1/2 inch out from the passenger seat upright face (your "fore-aft" distance). It does not extend out past the seating face of the passenger seat, or otherwise hang off the passenger seat. Low and slim generally results in a shorter moment arm from the anchorage point (where the latch/isofix mount points are), so reduces the collision forces for the seat/baby.

The Kioma seat is about a standard length, and the width is narrower than competing seats while fitting the same size baby.

Fun fact: the International Standards Organization (ISO) helpfully defined several envelope sizes (r1, r2, etc) to help with baby car seat standardization, and the EU crash regs (see UN r129) even have a test bar that represents the back of a driver's seat.

There's zero videos on your website, and zero videos of it on youtube. As someone in the market for this that's the first thing I checked. Get some videos up on Tiktok as well!

I'll add it to the marketing team's todo list. Thanks for the heads up!

It looks just like a regular one. When the special features are plastic and foam that doesn't scream high quality to me.

Why not make one that's solid steel and can tank a direct hit from a bus? You could make some really funny advertisements with crash test dummies.

I like your sense of humor. The engineers used to jokingly call this the "Orphanator -- the seat so safe only the kids survive the crash." Our marketing people told us to leave the ideas to them....

In a collision, rigidity is actually the enemy. A well designed seat should never be reusable after a crash because all the materials yielded to dump energy. It is better to have energy diverted into stretching, bending, and breaking materials than have it channeled into a baby's body.

We don't use steel (except for one rod), but we do use a lot of 5000 series machined aluminum which is powder-coated. Aluminum is preferable because it is better for creating crumple zones where the materials yield. The other primary material we use is polycarbonate because it has fantastic impact resistance (polycarbonate is used in "bullet-proof glass"). I'll let the marketing team know their materials description failed to impress you :)

One big problem with all car seats is that after 3-4 you have to dump an expensive and still usable seat. And I mean dump, since they cannot be donated AFAIK. It would be great if the seat can be disassembled to be used for another purpose.

<sarcasm> Think of the dollar cost amortization! You need to have more children to average down the cost. So you can use the car seat across 3-4 kids. </sarcasm>

In all seriousness, the problem with donations is people are afraid of attached liability. It is a shame, because car seats can often be used for several years across multiple children. If you keep it in the family and use it across your own kids, everyone is cool with it. As soon as you donate it to someone else, people worry about liability.

I know it isn't much solace, but we try to minimize use of non-recyclable material. The 5 pounds of aluminum in a Kioma car seat is recyclable and will net about $4.00 at current Al spot rates. So you could disassemble it.

There's probably a business model around refurbishing the "core" of the car seat. Take it back, run it through a CMM to make sure it's not been in any again impacts, then resell as a refurb or 2nd life unit with new padding and absorb the liability. A $600-$700 upcycled unit would be appealing. Or offer re-certification as a service. CSaaS

These look amazing, like they solve all the pain points I've had with car seats over the past five years. I'm a little past that stage now but wish these had been around when I had little babies.


Will you sell in Europe and does tha car base have an isofix mounting?

1. Yes, it has an Isofix mounting which in the US is called "Latch".

2. We cannot currently sell directly into Europe, though we'd love to at some point. If you're a distributor please drop me a line!

Ok, I'll bite.

I don't want to expose my child to exotic glues, adhesives, PFAS, or any other foreign molecules in their car seat.

How does your product stack up?

Why are you driving them inside a car that has literally all of these in the first place then?

GP's asking a legitimate question about chemical outgassing etc. Parents have concerns like this, and some parents more than others.

let me go pedantic and teach: "The customer is always right" does not mean that no matter what a customer says, you give them a false smile, and pretend you agree with them.

"The customer is always right" means "you are hearing actual feedback from your target audience; somebody giving attention to your product is experiencing friction and wants information or reassurance, and is taking the time to let you know"

Do you know how valuable that is? Most people exposed to your product (ads, PR, etc.) just move along. Customers who don't like your product generally just disappear.

Free market research should not be ignored. This customer is not only right, but is representative of a whole class of customers that you need to learn to win over.

>>GP's asking a legitimate question about chemical outgassing etc. Parents have concerns like this, and some parents more than others.

Obviously, and outgassing happens a lot in any car especially if it's brand new. So I'll ask again - why drive kids in a car at all if this concerns them this much?

I have zero alternative to cars where I live. I do everything possible to minimize my sons exposure to chemicals, which run rampant in our society.

Every single purchase I make, I try to be as informed as possible.

Does this offend you?

Oh it doesn't offend me, I just find asking if a baby seat contains "exotic glues"(wtf is an exotic glue) silly in the context of transporting kids in a car.

> why drive kids in a car at all if this concerns them this much?

do you want to be right and nyah nyah nyah the guy, or do you want to sell him a carseat that you worked hard on that's safer than any other car seat you know? If your car seat is made of the same materials as every other car seat, or if by chance your car seat is actually safer than other car seats, why wouldn't you want to let them know rather than you telling the guy "you're an idiot for putting your kid in a car!"

all car seats go in cars. Wouldn't it be nice to have a car seat that did not add to the danger?

>>or do you want to sell him a carseat that you worked hard on that's safer than any other car seat you know?

I don't want to sell him anything. Have you confused me with the OP maybe?

>> why drive kids in a car at all if this concerns them this much?

Because they have to

Genuinely confused what stance you're taking here

>>Genuinely confused what stance you're taking here

That a car is going to expose your child to an order of magnitude more "chemicals" than a baby seat ever could - it's like asking how much sugar is in your coleslaw that you're having on the side of a large five guys milkshake. Probably some, but if you're concerned about sugar you have much bigger things to worry about.

if you are having a large milkshake, I would advise against adding more sugar to your meal. I'm not wrong, I'm giving healthy advice. To follow my advice, you simply need to ask if there is sugar in the other things you order, it's a simple, meaningful question.

Sure. I think you're still missing my point , but you are of course technically correct.

>This customer is not only right, but is representative of a whole class of customers that you need to learn to win over.

That's not always true. If a certain subset of customers wants something ridiculous, they can either go elsewhere or learn to adapt. For better or worse, companies often times have the ability to drive public sentiment just as much as they have the responsibility to pander to it. When Apple removed headphone jacks from all their products they did so against a torrent of outrage, but fast forward 5-7 years and they absolutely made the right call. People learned to get over it.

Catering to bordering-on-harmfully-obsessive parents isn't always the best call.

I didn't say cater to every whim of every person.

I said listen to the customer because it is a legitimate point of contact, and they are not going to be the only one thinking what they're thinking, and even if you want to ignore them, you don't want to create a scene in front of other customers, so you can still think about and learn from the experience. The customer is always right from the customer's perspective, and you need to understand your customers' perspectives.

The user you're replying to appears unconnected to Kioma, so I don't think they have any winning-over to do here.

Valid point.

I assume you are worried about off-gassing, and direct ingestion of harmful chemicals.

TLDR: We stack up really well.

1) No flame retardants are used in the upholstery. We worked really hard to meet the flammability requirements with materials that aren't doped in endocrine-disrupting flame retardants. So that was a big win, because that is the largest chemical exposure in legacy car seats (in my opinion) and it is one that the scientific literature is very clear about.

2) The chassis is mostly machined aluminum (powder-coated) and polycarbonate. On the underside of the chassis there are some bracket retention pieces that use a standard cyano-acrylic glue ("super glue").

I'm not in the market for a car seat, but just want to say that I think you've done an awesome job responding, and I'd be looking at your car seat for sure after reading these :)

Thank you! Encouragement is always welcome.

Thank you so much for this response.

You're welcome. Thanks for asking! If you have other questions, please drop me a line at support@kioma.us and mention your HN profile.

Exotic glues? Foreign molecules?

I wonder. Are you aware that keeping your living space exquisitely clean compromises the development of a childs immune system?

I don't think the human immune system develops against offgassing like it does pathogens

Looks nice. Is it foldable so that we can carry it on trips abroad?

Do you use these for your children?

Yes, but my kids have outgrown them. When my son outgrew his seat, he sometimes still used it as a rocking chair to read his books in his room.

Hand-blown titanium crystal glassware for whisk(e)y and spirits.

Produced in Europe by a glass factory that has been operating since the late 1700's.

PG's mantra "do things that don't scale" has been a great inspiration.

I wanted something comparable to high-end wine stemware and it shockingly did not exist, so I designed it during COVID. This is my first physical goods venture and my goodness, it comes with a lot of challenges (as an American I've intimately learned the difficulties of Brexit, for example) but I wouldn't change anything for the world. It's so satisfying to see people use a shining piece of glassware made by real human craftsmen.

The speed at which the glassware been welcomed in the community is overwhelming (both emotionally and from a pure business logistics perspective) and I couldn't be more grateful. Now, just 18 months post-launch, it's used in distilleries ranging from Scotland to Jamaica and Michelin starred restaurants.

For the HN friends, use the code HACKER for 10% off glassware :)


"Lots of good advice simply doesn't scale." —Paul.Graham

I definitely think "Made by Humans" will become an increasingly-popular product highlight.

Beautiful effort. Wish I still served alcohol =D

For sure! Obviously it's good if some things are made by machines (like things that requirement super-fine tolerances), but the movement towards "Made by Humans" is trending away from "hipster" or "nerd" into general appreciation and that's very cool. Even if it's just for "for the marketing", the end result is that someone is getting paid for job with tangible results.

I particularly like it with the glassware because machines literally can't make this glass at its current quality; it HAS to be done by hand to have this level of refinement.

Cheers. Nice to see something whiskey related that isn’t trying so hard to communicate the usual whiskey stereotypes.

It's something I battle against every day.

I'm constantly told that whisky shouldn't be served in a stemmed glass. Honestly, I think half of my job is education.

The masculinity of the marketing message towards spirits is deeply embedded in American culture, which is why big tumblers are commonplace even though they don't do spirits justice. You don't see those stigmas in wine. The community is definitely way more gender friendly now though which is great. If my glassware can play even the tiniest part in making spirits more accessible, I'd consider this business a success.

Are glencairns not common in the states? Whilst most pubs in the UK would serve me a whisky in a short tumbler style glass, I would be disappointed if a decent scotch bar did not at least offer me a choice.

In bars with decent brown spirits programs they probably use them, but no they're not anywhere near as common as they are in Europe.

I've also never seen them in Michelin-level restaurants here because the quality of the glass isn't up to that standard.

Fascinating. It’s like a cross between a Teku glass and a white wine glass. Gorgeous.

Thanks! I like seeing how many folks know about the Teku beer glass. Very different use case, but the shape philosophy is similar.

With Bennuaine it was really about fine-tuning the dimensions through a ton of research and prototyping to reduce ethanol burn while at the same time highlighting finer notes.

Hello. These look great. But a few things that I'd like: 1) The glass does not specify a volume. 2) I'd love a wine-glass, highball and old fashioned style as well.\ 3) The Whisky & Spirits Tumbler does say 'lead free crystal' but doesn't specify it's titanium glassware. Is that correct? Cheers!

Hello! 1) Full volume is about 6oz 2) Noted! 3) Correct, the tumbler skips the titanium because it's our more affordable product and it's less needed because the product does not have a stem.

What's the brittleness like compared to glass? Is it more/less shatter resistant than other crystals?

Crystal is stronger than standard glass which is why it can be so thin.

Modern production of lead-free crystal is generally pretty good now. Old leaded crystal is extremely brittle and prone to chipping and fractures which definitely soured people's perception of its durability. Our glassware uses titanium as a strengthening additive which really helps durability as well as sparkle.

Most of our hospitality partners use them in service every day in commercial dishwashers with very little breakage. Having a shorter stem also greatly reduces both tipping and twisting scenarios which are the most common sources of breakage.

How do you mix the Titanium into the crystal, and does it bond in some way, or how does it strengthen and improve the durability?

Crystal consists of many raw materials with silicon dioxide making up the majority of the mix (70+%). Titanium dioxide is melted in with everything in a brand-new solar powdered furnace that runs up 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit iirc.

Titanium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal which is why it's used in the most demanding applications like rockets.

Each glass manufacturer uses their own recipe and pretty much all of them use aluminum, rather than titanium, as their strengthening additive simply because it's exponentially cheaper.

Glass is normally made with 50-75% silicon dioxide (sand, basically) and the remainder various metallic salts or oxides like lead oxide, soda, potash, etc. These are combined as powders and when you melt them down they all dissolve together into glass.

From a layman's perspective all these metallic compounds seem really different from glass but in reality that's the magic of glass. I'm no chemist but SiO2 doesn't seem chemically very different from PbO or TiO2.

Neat! Ordered a pair. I especially love the dishwasher safety and lead-free elements

Love it! Thank you!

Usability was very important in development. The crystal is dishwasher friendly and as is the design itself (I wanted them to be able to fit in the top-racks of consumer dishwashers as most wine glasses are too tall.)

These look great. I went to order a pair of the tumblers, but the hacker discount code didn't work:

> HACKER discount code isn’t valid for the items in your cart

Ah, should have been more clear. The code is just for the stems.

The new tumblers are 33% off (automatically) though since they're on a pre-order special right now!

I am making and selling an eink smart screen.

It can display a google calendar.

You can also point it to any url that serves an image.

Is it okay to post a link?


I am planning to release more applications for it and I am opening the platform for 3rd party applications.

Give it Home Assistant integration, or at least MQTT control, and I'd buy at least one

> You can configure this beautiful the e-paper display to poll any HTTP endpoint for an image. Just paste the URL into the iOS or Android app. The image will then be displayed on the screen. And when it changes, the screen updates.

Looks pretty simple to do.

I think the idea would be to be support a way to set that HTTP URL via an API, not requiring use of an iOS/Android app?

I imagine this might be a case of documentation and support as supposedly the app is already using the API endpoints we'd like to have.

Hmm, I'm not sure what you mean. How would you physically connect to this API without an app and without a backend?

Do you use an ESP32? Could you? You could use ESPHome https://esphome.io/

Ideally the device can create a wifi hotspot when it isn't setup that I can join and setup all the needed config settings. WLED does this as well https://kno.wled.ge/

I'm not saying necessarily without a backend. Just being able to "self-service" via API (ie if everything I can do via the app, I can do via curl, it could be interesting).

Self-hostable backend (benefits: privacy; less trust required; I know it'll still be usable even if you shut down your backend in 5y) would of course be great but a separate thing to the above.

I'm guessing since it's plugged in, there was no way to make it last long enough on a battery?

Love the idea, will bookmark it for the future office!

Battery is harder to make safe and harder to certify as safe.

Plus, I like the idea of plugging it in and never having to worry about it.

Still, I am thinking about adding a battery about twice per week, so it's definitely on my mind.

Consider a "bring your own battery" option where you have an interface that's moderately standard.

Do you have docs on the API / integration mentioned here and on the website? Would be good to know in broad strokes before buying one. Sample apps and whatnot

Here is the API description:


And here is the sample app:


Admittedly, I am not the greatest technical writer, but I compensate by being pretty responsive. So if you have a question, just message me :)

Oh, a fellow hacker from my little home town :-) Greetings from the other side of the fjord and best of luck with your business!

This display looks great, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous that you acted on the idea first (; Best of luck, I think the future of e-ink, edge computing, battery efficiency, etc. will only make these types of products even better down the line!

For the same price one can buy a 10.5" Galaxy Tab A8. But still, very cool. I wish e-paper wasn't expensive as hell and so dreadfully slow to update, it would cut down on energy usage in so many applications.

But the Galaxy Tab doesn't have a paper-like screen ;)

True, but it can also do almost anything instead of just being a calendar and a picture ;)

Any chance of having mini HDMI input to use it as something like an Onyx Boox Mira?

Probably not, I'd like to keep the device as simple as possible. The Onyx Boox already exists and it's great ;)

Any chance you'll do a larger one? I've wanted exactly this but closer to ~13-inch to replace the "family wall calendar".

It looks great, though! Any good place to follow/subscribe for updates?

So far I only have an instagram: https://www.instagram.com/invisiblecomputers/

Larger displays are not excluded as a possibility, but I like the current size for placing it on the desk. Also, larger displays are disproportionately expensive, and the display is already the main cost driver.

Totally fair. I hadn't checked the cost of larger e-ink, and you're right, I probably wouldn't pay $500 for the same thing you're making but 13".

Still going to keep an eye on it, though. I may end up talking myself (more accurately, my wife) into a smaller display.

Way cool. Just added this to my Christmas wishlist.

As a non-techy nerd it’s a perfect niche with built in usage and no need to hack. Thank you for posting.

I'd love to get this but for iCal display. Any chance that's in the cards in the future?

It’s in the cards, pretty high in the stack, but I never make promises.

If you can write code and you don’t want to wait for me to add it to the default calendar app, you can build it and release it as a 3rd party app:


Got it. I'm not the right person to build this functionality so I'll just wait to see if it comes and buy later if so!

How did you get into e-ink screen programming? I read here that e-inks are a market dominated by one company and that all the toolchain is owned by them, did you make your tools yourself?

Nice product, btw.

I see that shipping to Europe is not yet supported. Do you have plans soon?

CE certification is extremely expensive for a bootstrapped startup.

Plus there is Elektroschrottverordnung and Verpackungsrichtlinie and all that stuff.

You can send me an email at info@invisible-computers.com

Wait, you are situated in Flensburg but not shipping to EU? That seems rather interesting... Do you also manufacture in germany or have you sourced that out?

The wood is CNC'd in Germany, the metal back cover is from Spain. :)

PCB and screens are from China. The final assembly happens in my home.

I try to run a short supply chain to limit my inventory risk.

Is it UL certified?

I'll purchase once Outlook calendar is supported natively.

I'm taking you by your word ;)

I'll email you.

Love this idea, been waiting for you to ship to Canada and now finally purchased :)

Currently your Android app isn't available in Canada yet though

You're right, thanks for the hint! I have now submitted it to Google to be released in Canada as well. Usually that is approved pretty quickly.

Just ordered. Looking forward to getting it!

If you can document how to make this show a calendar from Office 365 that would get you so many sales.

There is no native outlook support (yet), but it works if you sync it via a google calendar.

Here is a guide on how to do it:


That gets you a sale, bro. :)

Now my family can see my calendar easily.

Very cool! Are you able to make a full-time living off this product yet?

Not yet. I’m hoping to, so I can fully focus on it.

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