All Things CC:

All things Commuication & Computing….

Archive for the ‘Embedded Software’ Category

The Power of Three

leave a comment »

There was a time when building a technology product and its functionality was largely contained into itself – ing was an island was perfectly fine. This was true of both enterprise and consumer products. A Set Top Box (STB) had no need for interactive functionality least of all a “companion application”, or a Thermostat in the house was manually operated. The rise of smartphones, increasing connectedness have changed that. The paradigm has changed. When products are designed and developed – it is no longer just about the hardware & software of the product you are building – it is equally important to design interactivity with a smartphone or tablet application and tying the functionality of the product with cloud services. And as I outlined in one of my previous posts – my re-engagement with programming & development would be at the “intersection” of the three elements:
1. Technology Product
2. Smartphone | Tablet Application
3. Cloud Services

Image

This is what I mean by the title – to deliver the best product experien
ce – the product strategy and planning has to be done keeping the three elements in mind – to bring together the  Power of Three. The challenge I had was wh
ere to get started because each of these areas offers attractive options. I had to filter them – and the primary one was that I wanted to make sure that it did not impede or conflict with my day job. So when I started about three months ago I had to stick to products, technologies that are available to mostly anybody and available openly without requiring any NDA. And here are the choices I made:
1. To use a proxy for the ‘technology product’ – instead of choosing a STB or a Gateway (and I have tons of product management experience in both) – I chose an embedded Linux-based device or server – a Plug Computer. It supports an ARM version of Debian or Ubuntu. And for creating applications on the Plug – I chose to go with OSGi running on open so
urce JVM.
2. The choice for Smartphone or Tablet applications was fairly easy – I chose IOS. And I specifically wanted to focus on programming with the large real estate screen of the iPad. Down the line I may expand this to support two more options – Android Smartphones and GoogleTV…
For Cloud Services – I have two choices Google App Engine or Amazon Web Services – but that the choice is still open…
Let me quickly talk about the application I have in mind though or rather what functionality I want to implement. I am going to write basic code on the Plug Computer that would support a network interface to collect data, diagnostics from the Plug by the IOS App. The code not the Plug would be (or is begin developed) using OSGi/JVM. I intend to incorporate addition to diagnostics, use the Plug to connect to some basic sensors such as Accelerometers or Zigbee Switches and using the network API to communicate the data/events gathered to both the IOS app and the Cloud. As I write this I have made good progress on the initial stuff so far and my subsequent posts would talk about them. But I do have a long way to go, and I am looking forward to it….
[Note: Attached a couple of sketches to illustrate my concepts using the great new Paper App for iPad.]
App

Advertisements

Written by Ashu Joshi

April 2, 2012 at 11:15 am

Intel & WindRiver: A Different Reason on Why It Makes Absolute Sense!

leave a comment »

Intel is going to acquire Wind River – it is all over the news & blogosphere. Some articles make the claim, such as this one in WSJ , that this acquisition will be a threat to Microsoft. The article also claims the acquisition will lead to a new source of revenue – selling software! Even if that is true, it is too far out to have a significant shareholder value – let’s not forget the real cash cow is in selling Processors and all other silicon they make!

I think it finally gives Intel the software expertise and hence control to add value to its processors & chips, and to out-rival the competition.

Here is why:

There is a growing need to have low-level software (a.k.a. firmware), the right Operating System (OS) support and the software tools for the specialized processors (System on Chip – SOC) Intel i s building for the new markets it is entering – one such example is Intel CE 3100 (code-name Canmore) designed for video devices such as Set Top Boxes (STB) and TVs. Intel’s thrust is evident in articles, a sampling of which you can read here, here, here,  and here.

And in this market for specialized processors, Intel is competing head on with the likes of Broadcom, Marvell, and Qualcomm. This market is sensitive to pricing plus needs bundling of the low-level firmware.  The inability to provide the enabling software would lead to the Intel chips being not used in favor of the competition. Without Wind River – Intel has to more or less rely on partners to support expanding range of software that needs to run on the specialized processors such as Adobe FlashLite, Google Android, Windows Mobile and may be in future the the new Palm WebOS being launched with Palm Pre.

Let me state the obvious – the real money is in creating and selling a device that adds value the higher end of the software stack – the Applications & Services a consumer would use.  And let’s not forget in the era of Web 2.0 time to market and service velocity is a must! So if I am a CE company and I want to design a product, I want a Processor that allows me to get to adding value quickly instead of spending time on doing the nitty-gritty embedded stuff.

Having Wind River in its portfolio enables Intel to out-compete and provide the complete solution to build CE devices…

Written by Ashu Joshi

June 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm