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Adding wireless to existing embedded systems

Posted: 02 Sep 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded system? wireless networks? approach embedded?

The world is currently seeing an exponential growth in the use of wireless networks for monitoring and control in consumer, commercial, industrial and government markets. Uses range from building automation (lighting, heating and A/C) to industrial control, machine communication, medical monitoring, security applications and home automation.

In many cases, it is required to add wireless capability to existing embedded systems. To minimize costs, it is often necessary to run the wireless software stack (and associated applications) on the same processor that drives the main system.

This can cause problems with conventional wireless implementations in which (a) the stack is closely tied to a particular microcontroller and (b) creating the wireless applications requires extensive C/C++ programming and embedded expertise.

This article describes an alternative approach that mitigates these problems. By providing the stack with an integrated hardware abstraction layer (HAL), the body of the stack is isolated from any low-level "pin-twiddling" operations.

Also, by incorporating a Python virtual machine in the stack, applications can be quickly and easily created in the Python scripting language and (transparently to the user) compiled into machine-independent "byte code" that will run on any processor and that can be downloaded "over-the-air" into the wireless node(s).

A few years ago, we at Synapse realized that the embedded world was poised to go wireless and that there was going to be a tremendous market in wireless monitoring and control network applications. At that time, the company was focused on sensor applications, so expanding our missionand renaming ourselves to Synapse Wirelesswas an obvious evolution.

View the PDF document for more information.

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