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Topic: spectra symbol (Read 13021 times) previous topic - next topic


strangely enough, the guy replied to me!

here is what he wrote:

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Yes, we do charge for samples, and do not send out multiple samples free of charge.  I am sending one sample out to you so that you can see if this is what you want.  If your project justifies tooling and engineering charges, then your piece price can be less; however, you must have a project worthy of such expenditures, and be able to purchase sufficient numbers to justify our efforts and yours.

Best wishes,


and my reply:

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Ok, problem is resolved. You are sending me a sample, so i can see before i buy, please notify me just which product, or products you sent me. I will evaluate the product in my application, and notify you of my further interests.

Thanks again for the assistance. Hope to do business with you!


in the end, i got what i wanted, it was less than what i expected, but i got it...


Sweet, glad it worked out for you  :)



i'm glad ill get atleast a sample... but i guess ill have to wait for the group buy to get alot of em.....


Feb 18, 2008, 06:14 am Last Edit: Feb 25, 2008, 04:44 pm by mellis Reason: 1
It just so happens that I had a conversation with Daniel Marriott of Spectra Symbol last Friday, about selling the softpots and flex sensors on my website. I talked to him about some of his products and it turns out that Spectra Symbol are the people who made the original Matel data glove flex sensors and also the flex sensor that Jameco has been selling for years - It used to be pricey at $9 and he informed me that it's now $12.

I asked him why the sensors are so expensive since they are just silkscreened pressure sensitive ink. To make a long conversation short, he told me that they would be $1-2 in quantities of thousands but that they had a business plan to keep the price up in small quantities. I told him that I was ready to buy a 1000 for 1 or 2 dollars a piece but he said they wouldn't sell them to me because of I would sell them for $4 each and mess up their "boutique pricing scheme".

I'm probably burning some bridges here, as far as selling their sensors, but I do think their model is short sighted (not to say greedy). In this land of free enterprise, drug companies, defense contractors, or anyone with a unique product has the right to gouge the government or the people for whatever they can get. (Insert long lefty rant here). In any case you might guess that I don't agree with their business model to sell what basically amounts to small silkscreens on plastic for (what appears to be) obscene profits.

It's noteworthy that they don't try and get these ridiculous prices from toy companies or car companies, only wealthy electronics hobbyists and students. (Insert more lefty rant here). It's also noteworthy that the rest of the electronics industry doesn't work this way. I can buy a microcontroller for $2.50 which requires a multi-million dollar chip fab to make, these sensors are silkscreen ink between two sheets of mylar.

Mr. Marriott did say that if he could get Digikey or Mouser to carry them then perhaps the price would come down - so maybe you should call up your favorite wholesale vendor and convince the vendors to try and talk some sense into these pirate... er entrepreneurs. Spectra symbol could sell a whole lot of sensors at reasonable prices and the corporate people who troll artists and experimenters projects for future product ideas might even generate some real products and volume for Spectra Symbol.

For other would-be dealers here's the wholesale prices I was given with the "Market Price" they would be expected to sell at retail for.

[removed at request of poster]

Paul Badger



Hello All,

I feel as though I am walking into a lion's den, but as there are two sides to a story, allow me to represent the inventor and manufacturer side of things:

When we developed the SoftPot and HotPot technologies, we didn't really understand the market, where the products would fit, how they could impact fellow inventors, or OEMs.  What we found over the last few years in particular, is that there is demand of two types for the SoftPot and HotPot:
·      Inventor/hobbyist enthusiasts
·      Large quantity applications in automotive, medical and industrial segments

How can we serve both needs?  Well, as is obvious by your reviews, we chose to service the large quantity segment.  Recently, however, we are intent on serving all markets for the pots.

Therefore, in the next two weeks, you will find our SoftPots on such places as www.jameco.com , www.soundwidgets.com , and www.sparkfun.com .  This is a simple way that we can meet the needs of the 1-2 quantity requests while backing such requests up with capacity for 1,000's to millions.  We admit that we don't service small quantities very well, we are turning to the experts in distribution to solve the demand for small quantities.

One note on pricing: when tooling and NRE are added to a design, a typical prototype order would result in costs of $1,500-$2,000.  $14-$16 each for a part in quantities of 1-10 pieces is reasonable considering the benefits offered, and the avoided tooling/NRE.  If serious quantities are desired, the price can obviously drop sharply with custom tooling.  

I had a nice chat with Paul Badger last week--he's actually quite a hilarious guy.  But at the end of the day, if an order is a small quantity, it doesn't make Spectra Symbol money.  The only way we can make money is to produce in quantity.  Frankly, we don't make money under 100 pieces, and really don't under 1,000.  By utilizing distribution, we can achieve our end of making money by selling stock pots to distributors and assist small quantity users by providing samples for reasonable pricing.  Yes, if DigiKey were to order 100,000 pieces, the price would be hugely reduced, but they aren't ordering right now.  We are more than happy to follow the demand of the market, however, right now it is generally for 1 or 2 pieces or for 100,000 piece production orders.

If any of you feel unfairly treated, please contact me directly, and I will do my best to support your request.  We are new at this type of marketing and selling, and unfortunately, it does show.  Please accept my apology and that of Spectra Symbol if we have failed to get you the information or product that you need.  Thank you for the feedback.

Best regards,

Daniel Marriott
Managing Director


Excellent reply.

Suggestion: can we change the title of this thread by removing "SUCKS" ?  It doesn't do the company or the Arduino community any good to have that in their Google results.



Feb 22, 2008, 02:53 pm Last Edit: Feb 22, 2008, 02:55 pm by follower Reason: 1

Suggestion: can we change the title of this thread by removing "SUCKS" ?

I believe you can edit the subject line when you create a reply.


P.S. As an aside, I note the page in question is yet to be modified.


Hello All,

I feel as though I am walking into a lion's den, ...


Perhaps to save any confusion in future for other unsuspecting passers by, you might articulate this explanation into your samples request page, the logic certainly sounds fair enough to me, but others might not be as savy when it comes to the commercial realities of scales of economies in manufacturing.


Feb 22, 2008, 09:29 pm Last Edit: Feb 22, 2008, 10:18 pm by phineus Reason: 1
I just found out about this thread and wanted to drop in my 2 cents.  I make a device called the Stribe that uses SpectraSymbol's "softpot" sensor product, and so I am probably biased, as the success of my device largely depends on my relationship with SpectraSymbol.  I also think they are really nice guys.  That said, maybe I can provide a little perspective.

When I requested my first sample packet from SpectraSymbol about a year ago, I told them what I was looking for, and they sent me a nice package of 4 or 5 different samples of sensors and membrane buttons.  One of each.  No questions asked, and it included a nice letter and a shiny brochure and datasheets and everything.

What big93 did was ask them for specific stuff: 3 of this, 3 of that, a couple of these, a pair of those.  He already knew what the sensors do and how they work, so he wasn't really getting them to "find out" if they're what he wanted - he wanted freebies.  I admit I was trying to get freebies, too, but I was happy with whatever they sent me.  In my case their investment paid off and they got a loyal customer.  big93's request sounds a lot more like a custom ORDER to me, not a humble request for samples of a very expensive product.   I think the e-mail from David Marriott was gently implying this by explaining how much it would cost him to make a "real" order.

With that many sensors, big93 could build an amazing controller and never talk to SpectraSymbol again.  Then tell everyone he got the stuff free, and everyone else would try the same thing.  Even less reason for them to send a customized free sample.

Keep in mind, 6 months ago the only way to get these sensors was through a single hobby site.  And their price?  $75 EACH!

I was thrilled with my assorted free samples, and was able to make experiments and work towards building my prototype.  Through further inquiry I found out about the softpots, and developed a great relationship with SpectraSymbol through polite and respectful communication.  They even let me order less than the minimum at first because they realized I was a little guy - but I'd convinced them I was motivated and had a real project going.  I sent them my drawings and so on.

After doing a group buy of softpots to get my own prices down, and seeing the huge interest in the product and how hard they were to acquire in small quantities, I suggested to SpectraSymbol that they try to approach some hobby sites.  I made a very strong case for DIY / hobby electronics as a fertile market.  I made the case for micro-businesses like Adafruit and Sparkfun and others.  I gave the whole speech about the modern innovator and the little guys - the DIY 'manifesto'.  Then I gave Daniel a list of sites that I thought might be interested in carrying softpots.  

I COULD have argued for becoming the sole distributor, re-branded the product as my own, and set whatever price I wanted.  Instead I vouched for this community and convinced a company that is doing just fine selling to the medical market to expand into the hobby market.  Hooray for me!  Whatever.  My point is this formerly very-hard-to-acquire product is now going to be available to everyone.

@paulb: I'm sure you're a nice guy and your intentions are good, but posting the pricing online like that... I feel it's a violation of the trust SpectraSymbol placed in you as a potential distributor of their products.  I think it makes total sense for them to set a suggested retail price for their own product based on their business model, and perfectly reasonable for them to expect you to keep your special distributor pricing confidential.

I agree with whomever suggested changing the title of this thread, as I think it reflects poorly on this community and could hurt all of our relationships with a cool little company that makes a unique and very desirable product.

BTW I think David Marriott is the President of SpectraSymbol, so you shouldn't worry about offending him by going over his head.  ;)


Oh, and as far as the shipping goes the high cost is because they insure them for a lot.  The first time I held a bag of them in my hand  I was like, "I'm can't believe I'm holding $1000's of dollars."


Feb 22, 2008, 11:47 pm Last Edit: Feb 22, 2008, 11:49 pm by John_Ryan Reason: 1

I agree with whomever suggested changing the title of this thread

Hear hear, but Big93's experience has nothing to do with reflecting on the community, it's a forum, people say things in forums which perhaps are appropriate, perhaps not, so long as words aren't breaking any decency rules or attached to unsubstantiated allegations, forum subscribers should expect to be free to express their opinions however they like, otherwise, it establishes a precedent for censorship and limits on freedom of expression, and it wouldn't be a community forum if that were the case.

Spectra are quite lucky he elected to pour his heart out here, rather than countless other forums where there are more lions than cubs. Big93 might have had a pointed list of samples, but it's their samples request page that invites trouble. While he is now getting his samples, his experience "sucked", so maybe that's a better word to use.

And aside from some hard-luck scales of economies common to anyone in manufacturing, I read nothing in the response that tells "their side of the story" as far as Big93's experience is concerned. They don't have any of that information elaborated on their request page, so there was no way for him to know of their plights, which I'm sure if he did, he probably wouldn't have bothered.


I agree their site could be a lot better and more informative.  It's funny, as soon as I started building Stribes people were all like, "How did you get an in with SpectraSymbol, that's amazing."  I guess I got lucky or they liked my crazy "xenome" prototype sketches or something.  Anyways, they're here, now, so hopefully we won't scare them off.  If the demand goes up, the prices should come down.


Dealing with samples must be a pain. ;)

On one hand you've got people who may be interested in buying large quantities or who are loyal.
On the other hand you've got idiots wanting everything for free.

I'll use my experiences with Coilcraft as a example.
I found it difficult to buy reasonably priced inductors near me so I asked for some samples.
They were very friendly about it and shipped me about 8 different inductors really quickly.
I will now go out of my way to buy from them in the future. :)

But if you turn people away then especially if the emails don't seem friendly and understanding then people will blacklist you which seems to have happened here.


Feb 23, 2008, 02:47 pm Last Edit: Feb 23, 2008, 02:49 pm by follower Reason: 1
I make a device called the Stribe that uses SpectraSymbol's "softpot" sensor product, and so I am probably biased, as the success of my device largely depends on my relationship with SpectraSymbol.

I think you'll find that your device is the advertisement for SpectraSymbol products to which everyone else paid attention. :-)


P.S. Oh, and from looking at the result of someone changing the subject earlier in this thread, it doesn't change the subject in the message list.


your device is the advertisement for SpectraSymbol products to which everyone else paid attention

Thanks for saying so.   :)

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