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Taking on the embedded diversity challenge

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Embedded? mobile phone chip? Android? Linux? Windows CE?

The embedded market was snapping up mobile phone chip giant Qualcomm's Snapdragon development boards. These were companies from all over the place and different types, according to Tia Cassett, senior director for business development at Qualcomm. She added, "Since embedded tends to be an inch deep and a mile wide, that's a challenge."

To address this concern, Qualcomm has the assistance of a small team from Intrinsyc that acts as shock absorbers. The outlook was initially grim when smartphone partnerships on Symbian and Windows CE fizzled out. Things got better when design work on e-readers for Barnes & Noble and Polymer Vision consolidated into tablet projects taken over by a few other, larger companies.

"We did a lot of work with the Android framework to re-purpose it for the Nook, the first commercially successful Android device," said Tracy Rees, who joined Intrinsyc as chief executive three years ago as part of a turnaround. Now Intrinsyc's focus turns to custom work on "a lot of vertical devices" like industrial handsets, digital signs and point of sale terminals for Qualcomm, he said.

For now it's mainly on Android and Linux variants, but "we'd like to support Win CEI think there is still some demand in industrial handhelds because they have a legacy of apps around Windows built up," Rees said. "It's up to Microsoft to regain [the embedded market's] commitmentWindows desktop and phone OSes have always been the dog, and CE is the tail," he said.

Like Qualcomm and Microsoft, MathWorks has long known the diversity of the embedded market. "We serve seven tier-one and five tier-two industries," said Jon Friedman, a marketing manager for the company's aerospace and defence sectors. Others handle everything from finance to railroads.

The company just released new versions of its core MATLAB and SimuLink products that focused on enhanced user interfaces to ease the job of managing the hundreds of thousands of multi-level models some engineers maintain. One of the next big jobs on the horizon is helping engineers access those models on everything from cloud services to smartphones and tablets.

Meanwhile, the business folks are starting to join the engineers in tapping into those models. "They want to know how to cost these systems, what's the ROIthese are questions not about the technology, but business," said Friedman.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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