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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

congatec teams for industrial vision

By Nick Flaherty

German embedded board maker congatec has teamed up with a major maker of industrial cameras to provide integrated x86 and ARM embedded vision applications.

The first system developed with Basler is a smart embedded image recognition platform for face detection is based on Basler's dart camera module with USB 3.0 and conga-PA5 Pico-ITX boards with 5th generation Intel Atom, Celeron and Pentium processors. 

Further kits based on congatec boards and Basler modules with MIPI-CSI, GigE vision or other relevant interfaces will follow. The pylon camera software suite will also be integrated by congatec as standard software into appropriate kits.

"Over the next few years, more and more embedded vision solutions will appear on the market. They will be smaller, lighter and more tightly integrated designs at the embedded computing level. They will allow previously stationary vision applications to become mobile or portable. Embedded vision will also help to implement existing vision systems more cost-effectively, and open up new fields of application that today cannot yet take advantage of camera technology," said Alex Temme, General Manager Module Business at Basler.

"Due to the increasing demand for board-level camera technology in and on equipment, machinery and systems of all kinds, it is essential that Basler's driver packages for sensor control and image acquisition are optimally harmonized with our embedded boards and modules. We will now ensure that this is the case from day one of our technology partnership with Basler," said Christian Eder, Director Marketing at congatec.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Latest Autosar adaptive platform supports full network binding of the DDS standard

By Nick Flaherty

AUTOSAR (AUTomotive Open Systems ARchitecture) has released the latest version of the Adaptive Platform that incorporates the embedded publish/subscribe Data Distribution Service (DDS) standard.

Release 18-10 supports a full network binding of DDS, allowing automotive manufacturers to implement an AUTOSAR Adaptive framework with DDS and develop highly autonomous systems, such as Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous vehicles.

RTI worked with the AUTOSAR Consortium on the implementation, as both the DDS and AUTOSAR standards contribute to a robust ecosystem for autonomous systems. DDS enables AUTOSAR to fully support highly autonomous systems with a production-ready communication framework that delivers the reliability, scalability and performance needed for these complex systems.

The AUTOSAR Adaptive Platform is a software standard designed to meet the increasing technology demands of new automotive applications. DDS is being adopted by Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) as a framework to solve complex requirements in Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous systems.

“RTI’s connectivity software is built on the DDS standard and provides a modern, data-centric architecture for autonomous systems. Auto manufacturers across the world rely on its standard-based, proven platform to streamline development through every stage from design to production,” said Bob Leigh, Senior Director of Autonomous Vehicles at RTI. “With DDS fully specified in AUTOSAR, the automotive industry can now use RTI Connext and DDS to develop high-performance applications, such as sensor fusion applications. They can also efficiently connect AUTOSAR-based applications to other systems using a robust, forward-looking IIoT architecture. The specification is now available and we look forward to continuing our work with AUTOSAR to drive the future of transportation.”

In the AUTOSAR Adaptive platform, the DDS components are optimised for end-to-end data sharing with little to no custom integration required. As a result, the DDS-based technology eliminates complex integration and security challenges for OEMs by providing a data-centric interoperable framework that supports all of the operating systems and processor architectures commonly used by OEMs and their suppliers. Auto manufacturers can also leverage other technologies outside of the AUTOSAR specification including cloud-based and back-end systems, as well as additional components that are common within the automotive industry, such as MatLab and Simulink as well as DSpace, Linux and QNX platforms.

Power news this week

By Nick Flaherty at eeNews Europe

. Battle rages over USB-C charging in cars

. TT Electronics in Chinese venture for precision resistors

. Infineon buys Siltectra to boost silicon carbide production

. Energy-harvesting controller eliminates batteries in IoT devices

. Project looks at new materials for solid-state batteries

. Ultracapacitors unscramble the power grid on Eigg


. Fanless 1000W modular supply for sensitive scientific, test and medical systems

. 600V, 1A optically coupled relay with 4kV isolation for high performance switching

. GaNdalf PFC reference design board hits 99 percent efficiency

. Addressing architecture challenges in high performance computing

. Spin Memory: Using MRAM in place of SRAM

. Habana Labs: Goya deep learning inference platform

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Coin-shaped development kit combines sensor fusion, voice capture and Bluetooth 5.0 mesh networking

By Nick Flaherty

STMicroelectronics has launched a coin-sized development kit for nodes in the Internet of Things (IoT).

The BlueNRG-Tile is built around ST’s BlueNRG-2 Bluetooth low energy 5.0 single-mode system-on-chip (SoC) that provides control and processing power to a full complement of sensors, while also communicating via Bluetooth with a free iOS or Android demo app on a nearby smartphone. For multi-node applications, the BlueNRG-2 SoC, which is powered by an Arm Cortex-M0-core with up to 256KB of embedded flash memory, supports mesh networking up to 32k nodes, substantially extending the range of sensing and remote monitoring to any needs, from smart-home to large-scale industrial infrastructure.

Surrounding the BlueNRG-2 SoC, ST has packed a full-featured ultra-low-power sensor portfolio, which includes an accelerometer and gyroscope, a magnetometer, pressure, and humidity and temperature sensors, a microphone, and a FlightSense Time-of-Flight sensor. With a highly optimised sensor architecture, the BlueNRG-2 SoC specs just 900 nA sleep current (with full data retention) and full-system stand-by power as low as 25uA. More notably it also achieves ultra-fast wake-up capability, efficient execution of 9-axis inertial sensor fusion (running the ST MotionFX sensor-fusion code optimized for the Arm Cortex-M0) and streaming of real-time, low-latency data consuming just 1.4mA at 25 Hz.

The kit is accessed for programming and debugging through a motherboard that together with the tile/coin compose an Eval kit, offers a convenient on-board debugging and programming interface, multi-colour LED, and a configurable wake-up push-button. The Software Development Kit (SDK) comes with BlueNRG-Mesh networking library, MEMS sensor algorithms including 9-axis sensor fusion and event detection, voice-over-BLE code and a bunch of ready-to-go examples in source code. In addition, ST BLE Sensors and ST BLE Mesh apps, for iOS and Android smartphones and for both mesh and point-to-point networking, are available for download from the app stores.

The MEMS sensor and the highly integrated BlueNRG-2 SoC, together with a size-optimised RF balun, have allowed ST to squeeze the coin’s size down to 2.5cm diameter.

Sampling now, the STEVAL-BCN002V1B Evaluation kit contains a BlueNRG-Tile (STEVAL-BCN002V1) and an STEVAL-BCN002V1D programming board to program and debug the BlueNRG-Tile. The Eval kit costs 50 and includes the free-of-charge, user-friendly SDK. BlueNRG-Tile is powered by a CR2032 coin cell (not included).

Further information is available at

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

RS extends Zerynth Studio tool to blockchain and IoT

By Nick Flaherty

Distributor RS Components has added blockchain and IoT capabilities to its  DesignSpark Zerynth Studio middleware toolkit.

This will allow members of the DesignSpark engineering community can now use Python to program microcontrollers for blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) applications through the DesignSpark Zerynth Studio suite, which is available to download free of charge via a portal on the DesignSpark website.

The Zerynth Studio toolkit enables fast IoT application development, with high-level standards of security, as developers can program in Python or a hybrid C/Python language on the most popular 32-bit microcontrollers and connect them to cloud infrastructures. The move opens up the use of Zerynth for IoT applications and embedded development to the huge community of programmers who use Python, a powerful programming language, which is widely used with the highly popular Raspberry Pi single board computer, for example.

The extension of the DesignSpark Zerynth Studio middleware toolkit is made possible with the introduction of the open-source Zerynth Ethereum Library. It allows microcontrollers to generate and sign Ethereum transactions based on just a few lines of Python. Ethereum is an open-source distributed-computing platform that generates the blockchain for the Ether crypto-currency.

The Ethereum library therefore provides developers with easy connection to the Ethereum blockchain and to use smart contracts and seamlessly integrate IoT devices with decentralised applications (DApps). The ability to generate, sign and send transactions from a microcontroller enables any device capable of running the cryptography algorithms to directly take advantage of smart contracts, which deliver credible and trackable transactions, thereby removing the need for centralised gateways as well as avoiding possible points of failure.

Zerynth launched through a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015, originally under the name VIPER, with the aim of providing professional development tools for embedded and IoT applications in Python. The tools simplify IoT development, providing an easy and efficient way to program the most popular 32-bit microcontrollers in Python and connect them to the top Cloud infrastructures like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud IoT.

The Zerynth Ecosystem consists of Zerynth Studio, Zerynth Virtual Machine, Zerynth Advanced Device Manager and Zerynth App.

Zerynth has been listed as a Trusted IoT Platform Partner by Microchip as a genuine security expert on Microchip technologies. Zerynth has also formed numerous partnerships with companies like Espressif Systems, NXP, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, RS Components, Mouser Electronics, XinaBox, Eseye, MikroElektronika, Riverdi and more.
"Having the possibility to generate, sign and send transactions from the inside of a microcontroller enables any device capable of running the cryptography algorithms to directly take advantage of smart contracts, removing centralised gateways and points of failure,” said Giacomo Baldi, CTO of Zerynth. “This can be applied to many different fields, and increases trust between consumers and third parties.”

Mike Bray, Vice President of DesignSpark, added: “Zerynth gives our users access to one of the most intuitive programming studios available, supporting their new designs. The addition of the new feature set supporting blockchain and crypto-currency transactions expands the capabilities of the platform, placing Zerynth at the forefront of new application development and programming. We’re delighted to have made another significant addition to the tools and resources available to our DesignSpark community.”

The DesignSpark Zerynth Studio middleware toolkit for Windows, Mac and Linux is available to download for free from for all new and existing members of the DesignSpark community.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Ensuring long term secure storage of data

By Nick Flaherty

Keeping data such as health records secure for decades is a major challenge.

Researchers from the Collaborative Research Centre at the Technical University in Darmstadt (Germany) have developed a system that will ensure decades of safe storage for sensitive health data in a joint project with Japanese and Canadian partners. The system will go into trial operation in Japan in the coming weeks.

A major challenge are the technological developments that will occur over this extended time period, as these have an enormous impact on the security of existing cryptographic schemes. “All encryption methods used today will become insecure over the course of the next few years and decades”, explains Professor Johannes Buchmann at the Collaborative Research Centre. “The attackers’ computing power will increase and their attacks will improve. Therefore we can assume that all encrypted data will be compromised in 20 years if not sooner”.

Buchmann and his team have been working to prevent this since 2015, in cooperation with Japanese research institute NICT (National Institute of Information and Communications Technology). Together they collaborate on the project “LINCOS – Long-Term Integrity and Confidentiality Protection System”. In 2017, the Japanese hospital operator Kochi Health Science Center and the Canadian company ISARA joined the project. The LINCOS system is the first to combine information theoretic confidentiality protection with renewable integrity protection. This means that no matter what computing capacity and algorithms are available in the future, noone shall be able to access or modify the protected data.

The guarantee of long-term confidentiality is achieved through a technology called “secret sharing”. The original data set is distributed among several servers in such a way that the individual parts are meaningless. Only when a sufficient number of parts – known as “shares” – are combined, the original data set of the patient file can be reconstructed. If one of the servers is compromised, the captured share is of no use to the attacker. In addition, the distribution is renewed regularly. The integrity, i.e. ensuring that data have not been changed, is achieved by quantum computer-resistant signatures. But even if the scheme utilised is classified as uncertain in the longterm, the researchers have taken precautions: The signature schemes are exchanged regularly. Integrity protection is thereby seamlessly ensured.

Canadian company ISARA, the industrial partner of the project, protects the data during transfer between the hospital and the server operators with quantum computer-resistant encryption. This is the third component of the LINCOS system. In the future, the researchers want to add yet another level of security that they have already realised in prototype with the Japanese team: quantum key exchange. This procedure guarantees sustainable secure keys, since it is impossible for an attacker to intercept the key exchange. More than 65 scientists from cryptography, quantum physics, system security and software engineering work at the Centre, as well as a team in the quantum laboratory at TU Darmstadt.

“The sustainable protection of electronic health records is only one example of areas where sustainable security is urgently needed. In our digitised world, we produce an unimaginable amount of sensitive data every day, which must remain confidential and unchanged over a long period of time, for instance in the implementation of Industry 4.0 which is crucial to Germany as an industrial nation. Policymakers are called upon to ensure the guaranteed long-term protection of our data,” said Buchmann.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Murata shrinks NBIoT module

By Nick Flaherty

Murata has laid claim to the world’s smallest narrow-band IoT (NBIoT) cellular wireless module.

The LBAD0ZZ1RX measures just 15.6 mm x 14.0 mm x 2.2 mm, is fabricated on a PCB with a metal casing, and is designed for use in compact, battery powered IoT/IIoT applications. The module integrates a HiSilicon Hi2115 single-die wireless SoC device that provides the radio transceiver, baseband and application processor functions with a ten year battery life. 

The module also hosts a DC-DC converter, a power management IC, wireless front end matching components such as baluns and low pass filters and an RF switch. The HiSilicon Hi2115 includes an Arm Cortex M0 processor core running at 40 MHz and equipped with 64 kBytes of SRAM and 256 kBytes of Flash that controls module communications using the industrial standard AT command set. The module features a comprehensive set of peripheral interface functions including UART, I²C and SPI along with GPIO and an ADC.

The module conforms to the NB-IoT 3GPP release 13 narrow-band standard and can operate in the low and middle bands.

Mass production is scheduled for Q1 2019.

Related stories:

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Solar powered autonomous camera can be stuck anywhere

By Nick Flaherty

Researchers at CSEM in Switzerland have developed the world’s first fully autonomous camera that can be deployed like a sticker, opening up new possibilities for sensors in the internet of things (IoT). 

The patented Witness IoT camera is solar-powered and includes a specially designed CMOS image sensor consuming less than 700 microwatts. Future versions will include VGA resolution as well as embedded face recognition.

CSEM has used its experience in the design and development of ultra-low-power microsystems to develop a fully autonomous portable camera that can be deployed quickly and easily via an adhesive patch or magnet.

“Enabling a range of applications from unattended surveillance and camera traps to wildlife observation, Witness perfectly embodies CSEM’s technological strategy,” said Alain-Serge Porret, VP Integrated and Wireless Systems at the Swiss Research and Technology Organization (CSEM). “We aim to deliver autonomous, low-energy-consuming devices combining both intelligence and efficiency.”

The patented Witness IOT camera measures 80 x 80 mm and 4mm thick, consuming less than 1mW of power in active mode that comes from a flexible, high-efficiency photovoltaic cell with an adhesive surface. A high-dynamic range (120dB) CMOS image sensor consuming less than 700uW @ 10 fps for 320x320 pixels includes intelligent embedded software allows triggering by scene–activity detection. The camera records fixed images at 1fps and stores them in flash memory for later USB readout.

Nanominiature contact doubles density and reduces packaging

By Nick Flaherty

TE Connectivity has launched a series of NanoRF modules and contacts that double the density of today’s VITA 67 RF modules for VPX embedded computing applications.

The high frequency nanominiature coax contact is engineered with smaller contacts and a higher RF contact density within a multi-position module. This design enables smaller packaging and saves valuable space. Half-size modules can support up to 12 RF contacts and full-size modules can support 18 contacts or higher, with the option to customise contact count and position.

The blind-mateable, float-mounted backplane contacts support module-to-module or box-to-box architecture. While they are designed for 0.047-inch coax cable, multiple cable types are available to fit the application’s needs. To bring high frequency capability into a high density modular package, the contacts support frequencies up to 70 GHz.

The NanoRF features a floating insert on the backplane side, with guide features to pre-align the array of contacts before they engage. This results in reliable mating and consistent RF performance up to 500 mating cycles.

“NanoRF offers high frequency coax contact density in a rugged modular package, providing reliable RF performance in harsh environments,” said Mike Walmsley, global product manager for TE’s Aerospace, Defense and Marine division. “It has been tested to VITA 72’s high vibration standards and is ready for VPX open architecture under VITA 67.3 — with a roadmap for expansion into other high-density packages.”

Monday, November 05, 2018

Power news this week

By Nick Flaherty at eeNews Europe Power

. Hyundai to add transparent solar roof to its cars

. Zinc producer looks to expand with US accelerator

. NXP USB Power Delivery 3.0 powers ASUS smartphone

. First rechargeable system that links directly to the Internet of Things

. Designing the smart grid with obsolescence in mind

. Perovskite patents double in last two years

NEW POWER PRODUCTS . High drain and extended temperature lithium coin cells for the IoT

. Shrinking a supercapacitor

. Chip scale Li-Ion protection for wearables

. World's smallest 1005 power inductor for wearables

. Pentek: Critical Techniques for High-Speed A/D Converters in Real-Time Systems

. Coilcraft: An introduction to inductor specifications

CEVA adds open neural net support to compiler

By Nick Flaherty
CEVA has added support for the Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) format to the latest release of its CEVA Deep Neural Network (CDNN) compiler.

ONNX is an open format created by Facebook, Microsoft and AWS to enable interoperability and portability within the AI community, allowing developers to use the right combinations of tools for their project, without being ‘locked in’ to any one framework or ecosystem. The ONNX standard ensures interoperability between different deep learning frameworks, giving developers freedom to train their neural networks using any machine learning framework and then deploy it using another AI framework. The ONNX support allows developers to import models generated using any ONNX-compatible framework, and deploy them on the CEVA-XM vision DSPs and NeuPro AI processors.

"CEVA is fully committed to ensuring an open, interoperable AI ecosystem, where AI application developers can take advantage of the features and ease-of-use of the various deep learning frameworks most suitable to their specific use case,” said Ilan Yona, vice president and general manager of CEVA's Vision Business Unit. “By adding ONNX support to our CDNN compiler technology, we provide our CEVA-XM and NeuPro customers and ecosystem partners with much broader capabilities to train and enrich their neural network-based applications.”

The CEVA Deep Neural Network (CDNN) creates fully-optimized runtime software for the DSPs and NeuPro AI processors. Targeted for mass-market embedded devices, CDNN incorporates a broad range of network optimizations, advanced quantization algorithms, data flow management and fully-optimized compute CNN and RNN libraries into a holistic solution that enables cloud-trained AI models to be deployed on edge devices for inference processing.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Top stories in October

By Nick Flaherty

FreeRTOS takes the top spot in October, as Infineon sees it as a key way forward for microcontrollers in the Internet of Things, but the first commercial 5G call is also up there, along with antennas you can spray on anything.

We have yet to see how the changes to WiFi technology names will pan out, with a move to naming generations rather than standards, but all the signs are that the embedded designers are ignoring it and still using the relevant standards as the key designators, which is good news. 

11 Oct 2018