Malouf Electronics ESP8266 Development Board
We work for Malouf™, a home good and sleep tech company in Logan, Utah. Our company employs about 800 people (including our team of 26 software engineers, hardware engineers, and data specialists) to create, sell, market, and distribute thousands of products. Unsurprisingly, a development board was never on our list of items to create for consumers—but it’s now available on Amazon.
So how did we get here? One of our team’s jobs is optimizing distribution technology at our network of six facilities (and growing). A distribution center we purchased from Toys R’ Us in Midlothian, Texas came equipped with miles of conveyor belts designed to streamline the shipping and packing process, but we couldn’t get the system to communicate with the technology we had. Rather than call in outside specialists, our company decided to use the resources at hand—us.
We set up a electronics lab in our corporate office and got to work on creating a PCB board for use in gigantic distribution centers to read barcode data from our parcels and sort the packages. But as we were building it, we realized we were creating an ideal board for makers. You can essentially use it to build whatever you want.
As a rule, most builders and makers have issues with the establishment. We agree, though we ironically work for a corporation—albeit a cool one. Our engineering team wanted to manufacture and sell the board online and to show others how to build it by making the tech open source. Profit was never a goal, even though we had to pitch it to our CTO and get the company to invest on the initial order. We expected a hard no.
He said "Yes".
Today, you can buy our ESP8266 development for around $20 (which covers our costs) and use our code to simply create any program. We use a CH340C USB to serial chip, so most modern operating systems will detect and work with this board without the need to install any drivers. Our goal was creating a maker-friendly design that’s experimental, flexible, and educational.
Pick up a board and see what you can create today. It’s easier than you think.