Posts Tagged ‘medical’

NXP Introduces Kinetis K27/K28 MCU, QorIQ Layerscape LS1028A Industrial SoC, and i.MX 8X Cortex A35 SoC Family

March 15th, 2017 3 comments

NXP pushed out several press releases with the start of Embedded World 2017 in Germany, including three new micro-controllers/processors addressing different market segments: Kinetis K27/K28 MCU Cortex M4 MCU family, QorIQ Layerscape LS1028A industrial applications processor, and i.MX 8X SoC family for display and audio applications, 3D graphic display clusters, telematics and V2X (Vehicle to everything).

NXP Kinetis K27/K28 MCU

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NXP Kinetis K27/K28 MCU family is based on an ARM Cortex-M4 core clocked at up to 150 MHz with FPU,and includes up to 1MB embedded SRAM, 2MB flash, and especially target portable display applications.

Kinetis K27/K28 MCUs share the following main features:

  • 2x I2S interfaces, 2x USB Controllers (High-Speed with integrated High-Speed PHY and Full-Speed) and mainstream analog peripherals
  • 32-bit SDRAM memory controller and QuadSPI interface supporting eXecution-In-Place (XiP)
  • True Random Number Generator, Cyclic Redundancy Check, Memory Mapped Cryptographic Acceleration Unit

K28 supports 3 input supply voltage rails (1.2V, 1.8V and 3V) + separate VBAT domain, implements a Power Management Controller supporting Core Voltage Bypass and can be powered by an external PMIC, and is available in 169 MAPBGA (9x9mm2, 0.65mm pitch) and 210 WLCSP (6.9×6.9mm2, 0.4 mm pitch) packages.

K27 supports 1.71V to 3.6V input voltage + separate VBAT domain, and is offered in 169 MAPBGA (9x9mm, 0.65mm pitch) package only.

Click to Enlarge

FRDM-K28F development board will allow you to play with the new MCUs’ capabilities. It features a Kinetis K28F microconroller, on-board discrete power management, accelerometer, QuadSPI serial flash, USB high-speed connector and full-speed USB OpenSDA. Optional add-on boards allows for USB-Type C, Bluetooth low energy (BLE) connectivity, and a 5” LCD display board with capacitive touch.

Software development can be done through MCUXpresso SDK with system startup code, peripheral drivers, USB and connectivity stacks, middleware, and real-time operating system (RTOS) kernels.

Kinetis K27/K28 MCU family will be start selling in April 2017. Visit NXP K2x USB page for more information.

QorIQ Layerscape LS1028A

LS1028A Block Diagram

NXP QorIQ Layerscape LS1028A SoC comes with two 64-bit ARMv8 core, support real-time processing for industrial control, as well as virtual machines for edge computing in the IoT. It also integrates a GPU and LCD controller enable Human Machine Interface (HMI) systems, and Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) capabilities based on the IEEE 802.1 standards with a four-port TSN switch and two separate TSN Ethernet controllers.

The processor especially targets “Factory 4.0” automation, process automation, programmable logic controllers, motion controllers, industrial IoT gateway, and Human Machine Interface (HMI).

OEMs can start developing TSN-enabled systems using LS1021ATSN reference design platform based on the previous LS1021A processor in order to quickens time-to-market.The reference design provides four switched Gigabit Ethernet TSN ports, and ships with an open-source, industrial Linux SDK with real-time performance. Applications written for LS1021ATSN will be compatible with the LS1028A SoC since the API calls won’t change.

It’s unclear when LS1028A will become available, but it will be available for 15 years after launch, and you’ll find a few more details on the product page. You could also visit NXP’s booth (4A-220) at Embedded World 2017 to the reference design in action.

NXP i.MX 8X ARM Cortex-A35 Processors

Block Diagram of NXP i.MX 8X family

The last announcement will not really be news to regular readers of CNX Software, since we covered i.MX 8X processors last year using an NXP presentation. As previously known, i.MX 8X family comes with two to four 64-bit ARMv8-A Cortex-A35 cores, as well as a Cortex-M4F core, a Tensilica HiFi 4 DSP, Vivante hardware accelerated graphics and video engines, advanced image processing, advanced SafeAssure display controller, LPDDR4 and DDR3L memory support, and set of peripherals. The processor have been designed to drive up to three simultaneous displays (2x 1080p screens and one parallel WVGA display), and three models have been announced:

  • i.MX 8QuadXPlus with four Cortex-A35 cores, a Cortex-M4F core, a 4-shader GPU, a multi-format VPU and a HiFi 4 DSP
  • i.MX 8DualXPlus with two Cortex-A35 cores, a Cortex-M4F core, a 4-shader GPU, a multi-format VPU and a HiFi 4 DSP
  • i.MX 8DualX with two Cortex-A35 cores, a Cortex-M4F core, a 2-shader GPU, a multi-format VPU and a HiFi 4 DSP

The processors are expected to be used in automotive applications such as  infotainment and cluster, industrial control and vehicles, robotics, healthcare, mobile payments, handheld devices, and so on.

The i.MX 8QuadXPlus and 8DualXPlus application processors will sample in Q3 2017 to selected partners. More details may be found on NXP i.MX8X product page.

Open Surgery Initiative Aims to Build DIY Surgical Robots

February 7th, 2017 No comments

Medical equipments can be really expensive because of the R&D involved and resulting patents, low manufacturing volume, government regulations, and so on. Developed countries can normally afford those higher costs, but for many it may just be prohibitively expensive. The Open Surgery initiative aims to mitigate the costs by “investigating whether building DIY surgical robots, outside the scope of healthcare regulations, could plausibly provide an accessible alternative to the costly professional healthcare services worldwide”.

DIY Surgical Robot – Click to Enlarge

The project is composed of member from the medical, software, hardware, and 3D printing communities, is not intended for (commercial) application, and currently serves only academic purposes.

Commercial surgical robots can cost up to $2,000,000, but brings benefits like smaller incisions, reduced risks of complications and readmissions, and shorter hospital stays thanks to a faster recovery process. There have already been several attempts within the robotics community to come up with cheaper and more portable surgical robots, such as RAVEN II Surgical robot initially developed with funding from the US military to create a portable telesurgery device for battlefield operations, and valued at $200,000. The software used to control RAVEN II has been made open source, so other people can improve on it.

The system is currently only used by researchers in universities to experiment with robotic surgery, but it can’t be used on humans, as it lacks the required safety and quality control systems. This is a step in the right direction, but the price makes it still out of reach for most medical hacker communities, so Frank Kolkman, who setup the Open Surgery initiative, has been trying to build a DIY surgical robot for around $5000 by using as many off-the-shelf parts and prototyping techniques such as laser cutting and 3D printing for several months with the help of the community.

Three major challenges to designing a surgical robot (theoretically) capable of performing laparoscopic surgery have been identified:

  1. The number and size of tools: during a single operation a surgeon would switch between various types of tools, so a robot would either have to have many of them or they should be able to be interchangeable. The instruments are also extremely small, and difficult to make
  2. Anything that comes into contact with the human body has to be sterile to reduce the risk of infection, and most existing tools are made of stainless steel so that they can be sterilized by placing them in an autoclave, that may not be easily accessible to many people.
  3. The type of motion a surgical robot should be able to make, whereby a fixed point of rotation in space is created where the tool enters the body through an entry port – or ‘trocar’. The trocar needs to be stationary so as to avoid tissue damage.

He solved the first  issue by finding laporoscopic instruments on Alibaba, as well as camera, CO2 insufflation pumps, and others items. For the second hurdle, he realized a domestic oven turned to 160 degrees centigrade for 4 hours could be an alternative to an autoclave. The mechanical design was the most complicated, as it required many iterations, and he ended with some 3D printed parts, and DC servo motors. Software was written using Processing open source scripting language. You can see the results in the short video below.

While attempting surgery with the design would not be recommended just yet, a $5,000 DIY surgical robot appears to feasible. Maybe it could be evaluated by one or more trained surgeons first, and then tested on animals that needs surgery, before eventually & potentially being used on human, who would not get the treatment otherwise.

While there’s “Open” in “Open Surgery” and the initial intent was to make the project open source, it turned out it is almost impossible to design surgical robots without infringing on patents. That’s no problem as long as you make parts for private use, however Frank explains that sharing files could cause problems, and the legality of doing so requires some more research.

FOSDEM 2017 Open Source Meeting Schedule

January 31st, 2017 4 comments

FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting) is a 2-day free event for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate that happens on the first week-end of February, meaning it will take place on February 4 & 5, 2017 this year. FOSDEM 2017 will features 608 speakers, 653 events, and 54 tracks, with 6 main tracks namely: Architectures, Building, Cloud, Documentation, Miscellaneous, and Security & Encryption.
I won’t be there, but it’s always interesting to look at the schedule, and I made my own virtual schedule focusing especially on talks from “Embedded, mobile and automotive” and “Internet of Things” devrooms.

Saturday 4, 2017

  • 11:00 – 11:25 – Does your coffee machine speaks Bocce; Teach your IoT thing to speak Modbus and it will not stop talking, by Yaacov Zamir

There are many IoT dashboards out on the web, most will require network connection to a server far far away, and use non standard protocols. We will show how to combine free software tools and protocols from the worlds of IT monitoring, Industrial control and IoT to create simple yet robust dashboards.

Modbus is a serial communication protocol developed in 1979 for use with programmable logic controllers (PLCs). In simple terms, it is a method used for transmitting information over serial lines between electronic devices., it’s openly published, royalty-free, simple and robust.

Many industrial controllers can speak Modbus, we can also teach “hobby” devices like Arduino boards and ESP8266 to speak Modbus. Reliable, robust and simple free software Modbus client will be used to acquire the metrics from our device, then the metrics will be collected and sent to Hawkular and Grafana to store and visualize our data.

  • 11:30 – 11:55 – Playing with the lights; Control LIFX WiFi-enabled light bulbs, by Louis Opter

In this talk we’ll take a close look at a one of the “smart” (WiFi-connected) light-bulbs available on the market today. The bulbs expose a small API over UDP that I used to run an interface on a programmable buttons array. We will see how topics like reverse engineering, security, licensing, “self-hosting” and user experience came into play.

monolight is an user interface to control LIFX WiFi-enabled light bulbs. monolight runs on a programmable button array; it is written in Python 3.6 (to have type annotations and asyncio), and it interfaces with the bulbs through a more complex daemon written in C: lightsd.

This talk will start with a live demo of the button grid remotely controlling the light bulbs. We will then explore how it works and some of the motivations behind it (network isolation, trying to not depend on the “cloud”, reliability, user-experience). Finally, we will look into what kind of opportunities even more open IoT products could bring, and open leave the place to Q&A and discussion.

  • 12:00 – 12:30 – Creating the open connected car with GENIVI, by Zeeshan Ali, GENIVI Development Platform (GDP) technical lead

A number of new components have matured in GENIVI to provide a true connected car experience. A couple of them are key connectivity components; namely SOTA (Software Over the Air) and RVI (Remote Vehicle Interface). This talk will discuss both these components, how they work together, the security work done on them and their integration into the GENIVI Development Platform.

This talk will also run down the overall status of GENIVI’s development platform and how it can enable an automotive stack to speak not just with the cloud, but with IoT devices via Iotivity interface.

  • 12:30 – 13:00 – Making Your Own Open Source Raspberry Pi HAT; A Story About Open Source Harware and Open Source Software, by Leon Anavi

This presentation will provide guidelines how to create an open source hardware add-on board for the most popular single board computer Raspberry Pi using free and open source tools from scratch. Specifications of Raspberry Pi Foundation for HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) will be revealed in details. Leon Anavi has been developing an open source Raspberry Pi HAT for IoT for more than a year and now he will share his experience, including the common mistakes for a software engineer getting involved in hardware design and manufacturing. The presentation is appropriate for anyone interested in building entirely open source products that feature open source hardware and open source software. No previous experience or hardware knowledge is required. The main audience are developers, hobbyists, makers, and students. Hopefully the presentation will encourage them to grab a soldering iron and start prototyping their DIY open source device.

  • 13:00 – 13:25 – Building distributed systems with Msgflo; Flow-based-programming over message queues, by Jon Nordby

MsgFlo is a tool to build systems that span multiple processes and devices, for instance IoT sensor networks. Each device acts as a black-box component with input and output ports, mapped to MQTT message queues. One then constructs a system by binding the queues of the components together. Focus on components exchanging data gives good composability and testability, both important in IoT. We will program a system with MsgFlo using Flowhub, a visual live-programming IDE, and test using fbp-spec.

In MsgFlo each process/device is an independent participant, receiving data on input queues, and sending data on output queues. A participant do not know where the data comes from, nor where (if anywhere) the data will go. This strong encapsulation gives good composability and testability. MsgFlo uses a standard message queue protocol (MQTT or AMQP). This makes it easy to use with existing software. As each participant is its own process and communicate over networks, they can be implemented in any programming language. Convenience libraries exist for C++, Python, Arduino, Node.js and Rust. On top of the message queue protocol, a simple discovery mechanism is added. For existing devices without native Msgflo support, the discovery messages can be sent by a dedicated tool.

  • 13:30 – 13:55 – 6LoWPAN in picoTCP, and how to support new Link Layer types, by Jelle De Vleeschouwer

6LoWPAN enables, as the name implies, IPv6-communication over Low-power Wireless Personal Area Networks, e.g. IEEE802.15.4. A lot of resources are available to allow 6LoWPAN over IEEE802.15.4, but how can one extend the 6LoWPAN feature-set for the use with other link layer types? This talk will cover the details about a generic implementation that should work with every link layer type and how one can provide support for ones own custom wireless network. The goal is to give quite a technical and detailed talk with finally a discussion about when 6LoWPAN is actually useful and when is it not.

Last year, as a summer project, a generic 6LoWPAN adaption layer was implemented into picoTCP, an open source embedded TCP/IP-stack developed by Altran Intelligent Systems, with an eye on the IoT. The layer should also be able to allow multiple link-layer extensions, for post-network-layer processing. This could be used for mesh-under routing, link layer security, whatever you want. This talk will cover how one can take advantage of these features and caveats that come with it.

  • 14:00 – 15:00 – Groking the Linux SPI Subsystem by Matt Porter

The Serial Peripheral Interconnect (SPI) bus is a ubiquitous de facto standard found in many embedded systems produced today. The Linux kernel has long supported this bus via a comprehensive framework which supports both SPI master and slave devices. The session will explore the abstractions that the framework provides to expose this hardware to both kernel and userspace clients. The talk will cover which classes of hardware supported and use cases outside the scope of the subsystem today. In addition, we will discuss subtle features of the SPI subsystem that may be used to satisfy hardware and performance requirements in an embedded Linux system.

  • 15:00 – 15:25 – Frosted Embedded POSIX OS; a free POSIX OS for Cortex-M embedded systems, by Brabo Silvius

FROSTED is an acronym that means “FRee Operating System for Tiny Embedded Devices”. The goal of this project is to provide a free kernel for embedded systems, which exposes a POSIX-compliant system call API. In this talk I aim to explain why we started this project, the approach we took to separate the kernel and user-space on Cortex-M CPU’s without MMU, and showcase the latest improvements on networking and supported applications.

  • 15:30 – 16:00 – How to Build an Open Source Embedded Video Player, by Michael Tretter

Video playback for embedded devices such as infotainment systems and media centers demands hardware accelerators to achieve reasonable performance. Unfortunately, vendors provide the drivers for the accelerators only as binary blobs. We demonstrate how we built a video playback system that uses hardware acceleration on i.MX6 by using solely open source software including Gstreamer, Qt QML, the etnaviv GPU driver, and the coda video decoder driver.

The Qt application receives the video streams from a Gstreamer pipeline (using playbin). The Gstreamer pipeline contains a v4l2 decoder element, which uses the coda v4l2 driver for the CODA 960 video encoder and decoder IP core (VPU in the Freescale/NXP Reference Manual), and a sink element to make the frames available to the Qt application. The entire pipeline including the Gstreamer to Qt handover uses dma_bufs to avoid copies in software.This example shows how to use open source drivers to ease the development of video and graphics applications on embedded systems.

  • 16:00 – 16:25 – Project Lighthouse: a low-cost device to help blind people live independently, by David Teller

The Word Health Organization estimates that more than 250 million people suffer from vision impairment, 36 millions of them being entirely blind. In many cases, their impairment prevents them from living independently. To complicate things further, about 90% of them are estimated to live in low-income situations.

Project Lighthouse was started by Mozilla to try and find low-cost technological solutions that can help vision-impaired people live and function on their own. To this date, we have produced several prototypes designed to aid users in a variety of situations. Let’s look at some of them. This will be a relatively low-tech presentation.

  • 16:30 – 16:55 – Scientific MicroPython for Microcontrollers and IoT, IoT programming with Python, by Roberto Colistete Jr

MicroPython is a implementation of Python 3 optimised to run on a microcontroller, created in 2013 by the Physicist Damien P. George. The MicroPython boards runs MicroPython on the bare metal and gives a low-level Python operating system running interactive prompt or scripts.

The MicroPython boards currently use 32 bit microcontrollers clocked at MHz and with RAM limited to tens or hundreds of Kbytes. These are the microcontroller boards with official MicroPython support currently in the beginning 2017 : Pyboard, Pyboard Lite, WiPy 1/2, ESP8266, BBC Micro:bit, LoPy, SiPy, FiPy. They cost between USD3-40, are very small and light, about some to tens of mm in each dimension and about 5-10 g, have low power consumption, so MicroPython boards are affordable and can be embedded in almost anything, almost anywhere.

Some hints will be given to the FOSS community to be open minded about MicroPython : be aware that MicroPython exists, MicroPython is a better programming option than Arduino in many ways, MicroPython boards are available and affordable, porting more Python 3 scientific modules to MicroPython, MicroPython combines well with IoT.

  • 17:00 – 17:25 – Iotivity from devices to cloud; how to make IoT ideas to real using FLOSS, by Philippe Coval & Ziran Sun (Samsung)

The OCF/IoTivity project aims to answer interoperability issues in the IoT world from many different contexts to accommodate a huge range devices from microcontrollers, to consumer electronics such as Tizen wearables or your powerful GNU/Linux system The vision of Iotivity is not restricted to ad hoc environment but also can be connected to Internet and make the service easily accessible by other parties. With cloud access in place, usage scenarios for IoT devices can be enriched immensely.

In this talk we walk through the steps on how to practically handle IoT use cases that tailored towards various topologies. To introduce the approach used in IoTivity, we first give a detailed background introduction on IoTivity framework. Then we will present a demo that shows a few examples, from setting up a basic smart home network to accessing the IoT resource via a third party online service. Challenges and solutions will be addressed from development and implementation aspects for each step of the demo.

We hope this talk will inspire developers to create new IoT prototypes using FLOSS.

  • 17:30 – 17:55 – Open Smart Grid Platform presentation, an Open source IoT platform for large infrastructures, by Jonas van den Bogaard

The Open Smart Grid Platform is an open source IoT platform. The open smart grid platform is a generic IoT platform, built for organizations that manage and/or control large-scale infrastructures. The following use cases are now readily available: smart lighting, smart metering, tariff switching, and microgrids. Furthermore the following use-cases are in development: distribution automation, load management and smart device management. The architecture of the open smart grid platform is modular and consists multiple layers.

The open smart grid platform is highly unique for embracing the open source approach and the following key features:

  • Suitable for scalable environments delivering high performance
  • High availability and multitenant architectures
  • Built with security by design and regularly tested.
  • It has a generic architecture. More use cases and domains are easily added to the platform.
  • The open smart grid platform is based on open standards where possible.

We believe the platform is interesting for developers who have interest in working on use-cases for Smart Cities, Utility Companies and other large-scale infrastructure companies.

  • 18:00 – 19:00 – AGL as a generic secured industrial embedded Linux; factory production line controllers requirements are not that special, by Dominig ar Foll

There is no de facto secured embedded Linux distro while the requirement is becoming more and more critical with the rise of IoT in Industrial domains. When looking under the hood of the Yocto built AGL project (Automotive Linux), it is obvious that it can fit 95% of the most common requirements as a Secured Embedded Linux. We will look how non Automotive industries can easily reuse the AGL code and tools to build their own industrial product and why it’s a safer bet than to build it internally.

Industrial IoT cannot be successful without a serious improvement of the security coverage. Unfortunately there is as today, no of-the-shelves offer and the skills required to create such solution, are at best rare, more often out of reach. AGL as created a customizable embedded Linux distro which is nicely designed for reuse in many domains outside of Automotive. During the presentation we will see how to: – start your development with boards readily available on the Net, – change the BSP and add peripherals using Yocto layers or project like MRAA, – integrate a secure boot in your platform, – add your middleware and your application without breaking the maintained Core OS – develop a UI on the integrated screen and/or an HTML remote browser – update the core OS and your add-ons. – get support and influence the project.

Sunday 5, 2017

  • 10:00 11:00 – How I survived to a SoC with a terrible Linux BSP, Working with jurassic vendor kernels, missing pieces and buggy code, by Luca Ceresoli

In this talk Luca will share some of his experiences with such vendor BSPs, featuring jurassic kernels, non-working drivers, non-existing bootloaders, code of appallingly bad quality, ineffective customer support and Windows-only tools. You will discover why he spent weeks in understanding, fixing and working around BSPs instead of just using them. The effects on the final product quality will be described as well. Luca will also discuss what the options are when you face such a BSP, and what both hackers and vendors can do to improve the situation for everybody’s benefit.

  • 11:00-12:00 – Open Source Car Control, by Josh Hartung

This fall my team launched the Open Source Car Control (OSCC) project, a by-wire control kit that makes autonomous vehicle development accessible and collaborative to developers at every level. In this presentation, we discuss the project and its implications on the development of autonomous cars in a vertically integrated and traditionally closed industry.

A primary barrier to entry in autonomous vehicle development is gaining access to a car that can be controlled with an off-the-shelf computer. Purchasing from an integrator can cost upwards of $100K, and DIY endeavors can result in unreliable and unsafe solutions. The OSCC project acts as a solution to these problems. OSCC is a kit of open hardware and software (based on Arduino) that can be used to take control of the throttle, brake, and steering in modern cars. The result is a fully by-wire test car that can be built for about $10K (USD), including the vehicle. In this discussion, we unpack the impetus and development of the OSCC project, challenges we encountered during development, and the role projects like OSCC have in a necessary “flattening” of the automotive industry.

  • 12:00 – 13:00 – Kernel DLC Metrics, Statistic Analysis and Bug-Patterns, by Nicholas Mc Guire

SIL2LinuxMP strives to qualify a defined GNU/Linux subset for the use in safety-related systems by “assessment of non-compliant development”. To demonstrate that the kernel has achieved suitable reliability and correctness properties basic metrics of such properties and their statistic analysis can be used as part of the argument. Linux has a wealth of analytical tools built-in to it which allow to extract information on compliance, robustness of development, as well as basic metrics on complexity or correctness with respect to defined properties. While IEC 61508 Ed 2 always pairs testing and analysis, we believe that for a high complexity system traditional testing is of relatively low effectiveness and analytical methods need to be the primary path. To this ends we outline some approaches taken:

  • Bug-age analysis
  • Bug-rates and trend analysis
  • Code-complexity/bug relationship
  • Brain-dead correctness analysis
  • Interface and type-correctness analysis
  • API compliance analysis
  • Analysis of build-bot data

While much of the data points to robust and mature code there also are some areas where problems popped up. In this talk we outline the used methods and give examples as well as key findings. FLOSS development has reached a quite impressive maturity, to substantially go beyond we think it will need the use of quantitative process and code metrics – these results from SIL2LinuxMP may be a starting point.

  • 13:00 – 14:00 – Loco Positioning: An OpenSource Local Positioning System for robotics, presentation with a demo of autonomous Crazyflie 2.0 quadcopter, by Arnaud Taffanel

Positioning in robotics has alway been a challenge. For outdoor, robots GPS is solving most of the practical problems, but indoor, precise localization is still done using expensive proprietary systems mainly based on an array of cameras.

In this talk, I will present the loco positioning system: an open source Ultra Wide Band radio-based local positioning system, why we need it and how it works. I will also speak about its usage with the Crazyflie 2.0 open source nano quadcopter, of course ending with an autonomous flying demo.

  • 14:00 14:50 – Free Software For The Machine, by Keith Packard

The Machine is a hardware project at Hewlett Packard Enterprise which takes a new look at computer architecture. With many processors and large amounts of directly addressable storage, The Machine program has offered an equally large opportunity for developing new system software. Our team at HPE has spent the better part of two years writing new software and adapting existing software to expose the capabilities of the hardware to application developers.

As directly addressable storage is such a large part of the new hardware, this presentation will focus on a couple of important bits of free software which expose that to applications, including our Librarian File System and Managed Data Structures libraries. Managed Data Structures introduces a new application programming paradigm where the application works directly on the stable storage form for data structures, eliminating serialization and de-serialization operations.

Finally, the presentation will describe how the hardware is managed, from sequencing power to a rack full of high-performance computing hardware, through constructing custom Linux operating systems for each processor and managing all of them as parts of a single computing platform.

  • 15:00 – 15:25 – Diving into the KiCad source code, by Maciej Sumiński

Let’s be sincere, all of us would love to change something in KiCad. I bet you have an idea for a new tool or another killer feature that would make your life so much easier.

You know what? You are free to do so! Even more, you are welcome to contribute to the project, and it is not that difficult as one may think. Those who have browsed the source code might find it overwhelming at first, but the truth is: you do not have to know everything to create useful extensions.

I would like to invite you for a walk through the KiCad source code to demonstrate how easy it is to add this tool you have always been dreaming about.

  • 15:30 – 16:00 – Testing with volcanoes – Fuego+LAVA, embedded testing going distributed, by Jan-Simon Möller

LAVA and Fuego are great tools individually already. Combining and extending them allows for a much broader test coverage than each tool alone can provide.

The focus of this talk is to share the experiences made and lessons learned so people can integrate such tools better in their own environment. It also raises the pain-points and open issues when setting up a distributed environment.

Especially for Automotive, Long-Term-Support, CIP or Consumer Electronics, advancing the Test-harness is essential to raise the bar and strengthen the confidence in our embedded platforms. Automated testing can improve our ecosystem from two sides: during development (feature does work and does not break things) and during maintenance (no regressions through backports).

  • 16:00 – 16:30 – Adding IEEE 802.15.4 and 6LoWPAN to an Embedded Linux Device, by Stefan Schmidt

Adding support for IEEE 802.15.4 and 6LoWPAN to an embedded Linux board opens up new possibilities to communicate with tiny, IoT type of, devices.

Bringing IP connectivity to devices, like sensors, with just a few kilobytes of RAM and limited battery power is an interesting IoT challenge. With the Linux-wpan and 6LoWPAN subsystems we get Linux ready to support the needed wireless standards as well as protocols that connect these tiny devices into the wider Internet. To make Linux a practical border router or smart home hub for such networks.

This talk will show how to add the needed transceiver hardware to an existing hardware and how to enable and configure the Linux-wpan and 6LoWPAN mainline subsystems to use it. The demonstration will include setting up the communication between Linux and other popular IoT operating systems like RIOT or Contiki as well.

  • 16:30 – 17:00 – OpenPowerlink over Xenomai, by Pierre Ficheux

Industrial Ethernet is a successor of classic field bus such as CAN, MODBUS or PROFIBUS. POWERLINK was created by B&R Automation and provides performance and real­-time capabilities based on standard Ethernet hardware. openPOWERLINK is open source and runs on lots of platforms such as Linux, Windows, various RTOS and dedicated hardware (FPGA). We will explain how to use openPOWERLINK on top of Xenomai 3, a powerful real-time extension for Linux kernel based on co-­kernel technology.

FOSDEM 2017 will take place at the ULB Solbosch Campus in Brussels, Belgium, and no registration is required, you just need to show up in order to attend the event.

Sensors Predicting The Future – Elderly Persons Fall Prediction and Detection with Kinect, Webcams and Microphones

September 9th, 2016 No comments

Wearables can be used your young children or elderly persons to monitoring their locations or health, and one use case, especially for old age persons, is to detect falls. However, it’s quite possible they don’t like it and/or not always wear it, so the Center for Eldercare and Technology of the University of Missouri designed a system based on Microsoft Kinect, two webcams, and microphones in order to detect falls, and even predict falls by analyzing gait, i.e. the pattern of movement of the limbs.

fall_detection_and_prevention-kinect_microphones_webcamsThe picture above shows at least part of the hardware setup with the Kinect, a webcam, and a PC  tower doing the processing stored in a cupboard.

Fall detection algorithms are relying on the microphone array, Microsoft Kinect depth camera, and a two-webcam system used to extract silhouettes from orthogonal views and construct a 3D voxel model for analysis. Passive gait analysis algorithms are for their part taking data from the kinect and the two-webcam system. The system was installed in 10 apartment, with data gathered for a period of 2 years, and they found that a gait speed decline of 5cm/s was associated with an 86.3% probability of falling within the following three weeks, and that shortened stride length was associated with a 50.6% probability of falling within the next three weeks.

You can see Gait detection in action in the video below.

More details about the studies and links to research papers can be found on Active Heterogeneous Sensing for Fall Detection and Fall Risk Assessment page on the University of Missouri website.

Via Electronics Weekly

Project OWL Open Source Hardware Ophthalmoscope is 25 Times Cheaper than Commercial Products

August 12th, 2016 4 comments

Medical grade equipments are usually very expensive, partly because of their complexity, but also because of certifications,   legal reasons, and low manufacturing volumes. That’s where open source hardware can make a big difference, and there has been several open source hardware prosthetic hands or arms such as Openbionics hand, but Ebin Philip and his team has tackled another issue with Project OWL, an open indirect ophthalmoscope (OIO) designed for screening retinal diseases, which normally costs between $10,000 to $25,000, but their open source hardware design can be put together for about $400.


The design features a Raspberry Pi 2 board connected to a WaveShare 5″ Touchscreen LCD, a Raspberry Pi Pi IR Camera (M12 lens mount) with 16mm FL M12 lens, a 3 Watt Luxeon LED, two 50x50mm mirrors, a linear polarizer sheet, a 20 Dioptre disposable lens, and various passive components.


OIO (OWL) Prototype development

While the Raspberry Pi board is not open source hardware itself, Ebin has shared the CAD files for the design, as well as the schematics and gerber files for the RPi shield used in the project on, where you’ll also find some details about the project log. Assembly instructions are currently missing however. One of the software side, the image are processed through OpenCV to remove background image and reflections.

The main goal of the project is to detect retina problems on diabetic patients in rural areas:

Currently there are over 422 million people worldwide suffering from diabetes. 28.5% of them suffer from Diabetic Retinopathy. 50% of diabetics are unaware about the risk of losing their vision. The number of cases of diabetic retinopathy increased from 4 million in 2000 to 7.69 million in 2010 in US alone. Early detection and Treatment can help prevent loss of vision in most cases.

Detection of Diabetic Retinopathy, requires expensive devices for Retinal Imaging , even the cheapest of them costing more than $9000 each. This makes good quality eyecare, expensive and inaccessible to the less privileged. The key idea in the development of OIO (code-named Project OWL) is to provide an affordable solution to help identify DR and hence prevent cases of “avoidable blindness”.

I’m unclear whether this tool is also appropriate for other tests such as dilated fundus examination, or to check the optical nerves for glaucoma patients, etc…. But if it can be used or adapted for such purposes the implications would even better greater.

TW68 Smart Bracelet Measures Blood Pressure and Heart Rate for $22 and Up

August 8th, 2016 5 comments

Some people may need to frequently measure their blood pressure because of their health condition, but it’s often a cumbersome experience, so they may get lazy, and not do it as often as needed. TW68 smart bracelet should make this easy, as it’s your typical fitness tracker with an heart rate monitor, but adding the capability to also measure blood pressure. It’s also very cheap, and I first found it on DealExtreme where it sells for just $24.

TW68TW68 specifications:

  • MCU – Nordic Semi NRF51822 ARM Cortex M0 micro-controller with 2.4 GHz radio
  • Data Storage – 7 days detailed data, 23 days total data
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Display – 0.49″ OLED display
  • Sensors –  PixArt-PAH8001EI blood pressure sensor; 6-axis Invensense-MPU6500 accelerometer and gyroscope
  • Function Health tracker: Blood pressure measurement, Heart rate monitor, Pedometer, Sleep tracker
  • Other functions: Call/Message notification, Fall reminder, Social sharing, Time, Alarm clock
  • Misc – Vibrator, touch button
  • Battery – 60 mAh LiPo battery good for 7 to 15 days; charge time: around 1h30; magnetic charging
  • Dimensions – Watch face: 41.1 x 18.5 x 11.9mm; silicon strap: 240 x 20.8 x 11.9mm
  • Weight – 25 grams
  • IP Rating – IP65 (waterproof while washing hands)

The smartband is sold with its custom USB charging cable, and a user’s manual. The provided app is compatible with Android 4.4+ and iOS 7.1+ smartphones. I’ve been told that the blood pressure data is not shown directly on the watch, so you’ll need to initiate and read the measurement with your Android smartphone or iPhone, which is not as convenient as it could be.


This all still looks pretty good, but based on my disappointing experiences with optical heart rate monitors on most Chinese smartwatches and trackers, except possibly with Energympro EP-SH09 (not perfect but usable), I have serious doubts about the heart rate monitor accuracy, let alone the blood pressure claims.  If you look at the product description on DX, the manufacturer claims the measurements are very close to professional equipments… But the embedded Pixart “blood pressure sensor” is actually an heart rate monitor, and the sensor manufacturer only claims heart rate capabilities, nothing about blood pressure.

Finally, if you look at the upcoming and FDA approved Omron BP6000 professional blood pressure watch it is designed with a small motor that will gently squeeze your wrist while taking measurements, something that TW68 won’t do. So it’s most likely a toy than anything else. The demo from Tinydeal below shows the accessories and some of the capabilities of the bracelet, except of course HRM and BP…

If you’d still like to play with it, beside DX, you can also buy it on GeekBuying, Aliexpress, Amazon US and Tinydeal for $22 to $30 shipped.

Intrinsyc Open-Q 600 Single Board Computer is Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Processor

January 29th, 2016 4 comments

Intrinsyc has released several Qualcomm Snapdragon development kits and system-on-modules over the last few years, and the company has now unveiled their first single board computer with Open-Q 600 SBC powered by Snapdragon 600 quad core processor with 2GB RAM and 16GB eMMC flash.

Click to Enlarge

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Open-Q 600 specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064) quad core Krait 300 processor @  1.7GHz with 2MB L2 cache, Adreno 320 GPU, and Hexagon QDSP6V4 DSP
  • System Memory – 2GB PCDDR3 RAM @ 533MHz; dual channel 32-bit
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC 4.5 flash, micro SD card slot
  • Video Output / Display I/F – HDMI 1.4a port for up to 1080p @ 60Hz, 2-lane MIPI-DSI connector
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5mm stereo headset output with mono input, 3.5mm Mic line in; Qualcomm WCD9311 audio codec
  • Camera – 2-lane MIPI-CSI connector supporting  8 MP camera up to WXGA resolution @ 60 fps
  • Connectivity
    • Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45) via Qualcomm AR8151 Gigabit Ethernet controller
    • 802.11 a/b/g/n 2×2 dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 (Qualcomm QCA6234) with two antenna connectors
    • GPS/Glonass via Qualcomm IZat Gen8C (Qualcomm WGR7640) GNSS receiver with one antenna connector
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x Micro USB 2.0 OTG port
  • Expansion – 2x digital IO configurable ports with I2C, SPI, UART, GPIO (I can’t find it on the board unless it is shared with the DSI connector)
  • Debugging – 4-pin 1.8V UART debug connector, 20-pin JTAG connector
  • Power Supply – 5V DC input; Qualcomm PMM8920 PMIC
  • Dimensions – 90 x 85mm

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The company supports Android 5.1 Lollipop and Linux for the board, but access to the image, source code, and full documentation requires login with the serial number of your boards. Potential application for OEMs include robotics, medical devices, and industrial applications.


Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Intrinsic sells for the board for $165 + shipping, and more information can be found on Open-Q 600 SBC page once you’ve bought the board…

Via LinuxGizmos

Omron Project Zero BP6000 is Both a Blood Pressure Monitor and a Smartwatch

January 6th, 2016 15 comments

Many smartwaches or fitness trackers include an heart rate monitor, but instead many people need to monitor their blood pressure to make sure it’s not too high (hypertension) or low (hypotension). Usually this involves either going to the doctor, or doing measurements at home with a blood pressure monitor by placing a cuff on the upper arm, and in this should take a short time, but many people may still not want to bother with the procedure. So Omron has designed a new blood pressure monitor that looks like a large smartwatch, and includes the same function as fitness monitors, in order to simply the process further, and have more people regularly measure their blood pressure.

Omrom_P6000_Blood_Pressure_MonitorTechnical details about Project Zero wrist blood pressure monitor (BPM) are not fully available yet, but we do now the company is going through FDA approval, so contrary to gadgets with heat rate monitors whose measurements can not be fully trusted, it will be reliable and accurate at +/- 3mm Hg per hear beat. When you take a measurement, the wrist band will slightly squeeze your wrist. just like when using a cuff. The device will also remind users to take medication and record the time they take to improve. Omron BPM will also be compatible with Omron Connect mobile app, available for Android and iOS, which can share information with a personal physician.

Wearable_Blood_Pressure_MonitorThe watch will also track your sleep, measure your heart rate, count your steps, estimate the calories you’ve burnt through the day, the distance walked, and… display the time of the day. The company has also developed project zero upper arm blood pressure monitor (P7000 model) integrating a display and Bluetooth Smart connectivity. Charbax interviewed the company, and filmed both devices with the part about P6000 starting at 2:50.

Eventually more details should surface on Omron Project Zero page. Both products should become available late 2016, and sell for less than $200.