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Embedded systems and telemetry checkpoint

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Mini Poll Technology marketing people are notorious for confusing the hell out of us by trying to dress up relatively simple concepts and developments to make them appear more significant than they are. If they’re not doing this, they’re going to the other extreme and trying to sell us magic bullets that will make complex problems go away with a single shot.

It’s therefore a bit disconcerting when you hear a marketing campaign that pretty much nails it, and an example of this is IBM’s ‘Smarter Planet’.

OK, the phrase itself might sound a bit pretentious when you first hear it. But for anyone who has been hit with this latest initiative from Big Blue, the observations underpinning it - that the world is becoming more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent - are actually quite thought provoking.

The ‘instrumented’ reference, for example, draws attention to the fact that we all possess and/or are surrounded by objects containing micro-processors of one kind or another. Part of the ‘interconnected’ thing is that a lot of this stuff is communications enabled.

To cope with all this, you clearly need ‘intelligent’ systems to keep track of where everything is and deal with the all of the information flying around. That’s basically what Smarter Planet is all about, but you can get the several thousand word version, complete with multi-media case studies and examples, from the IBM website if you are hungry for more detail.

In the meantime, the developments we have mentioned are starting to shine more of a spotlight on embedded systems and telemetry. For those in traditional enterprise IT, these have typically been regarded as specialist niche areas. If you are in any doubt about their mainstream relevance today, however, just take a minute to look around you and tot up all of the gadgets, appliances and control systems you see that have some kind of processor embedded in them.

When you then think about your journey to work, your last shopping trip, and your latest trip to a medical facility, it’s pretty clear that for every home or office computer that touches our lives, there are probably tens, if not hundreds, of ‘things’ with embedded computing capability that touch us also. And that’s just the stuff we can see, without even considering what’s embedded in utility and communications infrastructures, transport systems, control and monitoring mechanisms, etc.

With this in mind, we thought it was about time we turned our attention to all of those hardworking and creative people who make all this pervasive stuff work. We would therefore be interested to hear about your involvement with embedded systems and telemetry, whether you are a specialist in either of these areas, or working in more of a traditional business computing environment that has been impacted by pervasive technology.

So, if you have a few minutes, please have a go at our mini-poll below.

READER POLL: EMBEDDED SYSTEMS AND TELEMETRY

1. Do you have experience of designing and/or developing any of the following? (Please tick all that apply)

Real-time embedded systems
(e.g. for control and management)
Non-real-time embedded systems
(e.g. gadgets, access devices, etc)
Telemetry enabled applications
(e.g. central systems interacting with remote devices)
Wireless telemetry enabling solutions
(e.g. communications stacks, communications infrastructure)
Fixed (non-wireless) telemetry enabling solutions
(e.g. communications stacks, communications infrastructure)
Other embedded/telemetry related solutions (please state)

2. Do you have embedded system/telemetry related experience in relation to any of the following? (Please tick all that apply)

Mobile devices
Other 'access' devices
Consumer electronics
Aerospace and defence
Automotive
Retail (POS, vending, etc)
Financial services
Manufacturing control
Logistics (inc RFID)
Utilities (inc metering)
Network/comms equipment
Security/surveillance
Building/facilities management
Other (please state)

3. Can you provide one or two examples of recent embedded system or telemetry related projects you have worked on?

 

4. What, if any, is your experience or impression of the following embedded operating system options? (Tick one per row, and add comment as appropriate)

  Have used successfully Have used, but had significant issues Have not used but have a good impression Have not used and have a poor impression No experience or opinion Comment
Linux or Linux derivative
Other open source OS
Windows Embedded/CE
Other commercial OS

5. How important are the following when evaluating embedded OS options?

  Highly important   Not important No experience or opinion
  5 4 3 2 1
Ease of development
Availability of target-specific development tools
Availability of testing tools, emulators
Ability to use standard tools for most development
Ease of porting code to new target platforms
Standards conformance and/or interoperability
Specific features
Ability to work with real time data streams
Ease of integration with analogue/digital devices
Efficient use of processor, memory, storage
Efficient use of power / power management
Stability, resilience and reliability
Security related features / capability
Built-in networking/communications features
Operations/management
Maintainability/manageability of deployed apps
Total cost of ownership through lifetime use
Cost of licensing specifically
Broad support in the industry
Backing of one or more major vendors
Availability of relevant skills in the industry
Other (please state)

6. Any final comments?

 

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