5/21/2015

QNX boards the bus: an automated fare collection system from MSI Global

You can find QNX technology in almost every form of transportation imaginable, from cars and trains to boats and planes. It’s even used in motorcyles. If you download the infographic, “35 Ways QNX Touches Our Lives,” you’ll find lots of examples, including in-car infotainment, locomotive control, and cruise-ship navigation. But here’s the thing: the infographic doesn’t say a thing about buses. Not a single mention.

Enter an announcement that fills the gap. Earlier today, QNX revealed that the QNX Neutrino OS is powering an automated fare collection system used throughout Singapore, the Philippines, and Thailand. The system comprises automatic gates, ticketing machines, and yes, onboard bus equipment, including a console for the driver and a smartcard validation system for passengers. The system was created by MSI Global, an international system integrator specializing in land-transport solutions and a subsidiary of the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore.

Silvester Prakasam, head of the fare system business unit at MSI, has good things to say about QNX. “MSI’s experience with QNX Neutrino has been very favorable and we will continue to leverage the same secure OS for our future projects. Creating a solution that could gain widespread adoption was a key consideration in our choice of OS, and with QNX Neutrino we were able to create a design that is fast and reliable, yet affordable to customers in cost-sensitive regions.”

Read the press release to learn more. Meanwhile, I thought you would enjoy some images of the fare collection system, starting with the smartcard reader:



Here's an example of the ticketing machines:


And here's an example of the automatic gates:

4/30/2015

QNX brings medical device info days to Europe

Commercializing a medical device is always a challenge. But with the right knowledge, you can mitigate project risk and ease the path to regulatory approval.

On May 19 and 21, QNX will host info
days in Cambridge 
and Paris.
For almost 30 years, QNX Software Systems has been helping its customers build dialysis machines, infusion pumps, angiography systems, CT scanners, surgical robots, heart defibrillators, and a host of other medical devices. Moreover, we have built an OS that complies with international standards like IEC 62304 (medical device software) and IEC 61508 (functional safety systems). In the process, we’ve learned a thing or two about medical devices and how their software must specified, designed, developed, and maintained.

Which brings me to the medical information days that QNX will host this coming month in Cambridge and Paris. In both events, industry experts like Rob Higgins (head of regulatory affairs at MHRA, the agency that regulates medical devices in the UK) and Florence Collé (regulatory affairs manager at SNITEM, the national association of medical device manufacturers in France) will address regulatory and commercial challenges faced by today’s medical device manufacturers. Experts from IHS and, of course, QNX will also be on hand to deliver presentations and share their insights. Topics covered will include:

  • Understanding regulations in Europe and North America
  • Getting up to speed on IEC 62304 compliance
  • Streamlining software integration
  • Ensuring medical device safety
  • Mitigating project risk
  • Easing the path to end-device approval

Interested? Click on the links to learn more:

Cambridge, UK, May 19
The Cambridge Belfry
Back Lane, Cambourne, Cambridge, CB23 6BW
Download the agenda and view the speaker bios
Register to attend

Paris, France, May 21
Hilton Paris La Défense
2 place de la Défense CNIT, 92053 Paris
Download the agenda
Register to attend

There is no charge to participate in either event.


Further reading:

    3/26/2015

    Advantech and QNX ink distribution agreement

    Advantech to offer pre-integrated platforms for developers building medical devices, industrial control systems, and other QNX-based applications.

    SOM-6894 module: one of many Advantech 
    products with integrated QNX support.
    No assembly required. That’s the idea behind the new partnership between Advantech and QNX Software Systems.

    Advantech can now distribute the QNX Neutrino OS, pre-integrated, on a variety of its embedded hardware platforms, including single board computers, industrial motherboards, computer-on-modules, and fanless embedded box PCs.

    The goal is to make life easier for embedded developers: they can now unbox their Advantech hardware and get QNX Neutrino up and running right away.

    Tom Keyserlingk, director of global sales at QNX, sees real value in having Advantech on board as a distributor. “They have a global footprint, a comprehensive product portfolio, proven QNX experience, and extensive industry partnerships — all the right ingredients to support our growing reach internationally.”

    Angus Hsu, director of embedded computing at Advantech, explains why this partnership is important for Advantech. “The QNX Neutrino OS offers all of the building blocks to create modern embedded devices, from hard realtime performance and advanced security features to graphics frameworks, multimedia support, and mobile-device connectivity — all based on QNX Software Systems’ 35 years of experience in the embedded industry.”

    If you’re an embedded developer that uses, or wants to use, Advantech hardware for your QNX-based application, here is a current list of Advantech BSPs for the QNX Neutrino OS:



    Visit the Advantech site to learn more about their embedded platforms.

    3/22/2015

    The IEC 61508 trifecta: certified kernel and certified BSP running on certified hardware

    Guest post by my colleague Terry Staycer, global business development manager at QNX.

    When it comes to building a safety-critical system, you can’t afford to gamble. Not only must you reduce risk of harm, you must also minimize the risk of failing to achieve certification. Your best bet is to start with pre-qualified components that minimize certification efforts and let you focus on adding true differentiation to your product:

    Step 1. A realtime operating system (RTOS) kernel designed for safety-critical systems can’t simply be reliable or elegantly designed. The requirements become especially severe for an OS kernel certified at IEC 61508 Safety Integrity Level 3, or SIL3. In fact, a system certified at SIL3 must have a probability of dangerous failure below 1 in 10 million per hour of operation. Achieving such a low risk of failure is non-trivial, to say the least. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to satisfy the above requirements unless they are baked into the very design of the kernel.

    Step 2. The same rigid safety must also be applied to the board support package (BSP). This is the bridge code that connects the RTOS to the hardware features on a particular board.

    Step 3. Now drop these two safety-critical pieces of software onto a single-board, multi-processor, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) platform and you are providing an invaluable service to the development team. All they have to do is drop their application on top of this pre-certified environment and they are one system certification away from delivering a completed safety-critical product.

    We always hear of decreasing the time it takes to deliver a product from requirements to revenue. I can’t think of a better way to achieve this goal than to go with a conversion of these three building blocks that are already completed and awaiting the unique value of your development team’s application.

    3/10/2015

    Behind the controls of the Solar Impulse

    Virtual cockpit lets you follow progress of round-the-world flight in real time.

    What’s it like to get behind the controls of a solar-powered plane a plane now in the process of circumnavigating the globe? You and I will never really know, but we can enjoy the next best thing: a virtual cockpit that provides a pilot’s eye view of the plane’s instrument panel.

    Just point your browser to the Solar Impulse website whenever the plane is in the air, and you will see real-time updates to the plane’s flight instruments. For instance, in this screen capture, you can see the current position of the ailerons, airbrakes, elevators, and rudder, along with the airspeed (in knots), vertical speed (rate of climb or descent), heading, and altitude:



    And in the following screen capture, you can see much of the same information, presented in a different fashion, along with the attitude indicator, which shows whether the wings are level and whether the nose is pointing above or below the horizon:



    I've covered only a subset of the real-time information displayed on the Solar Impulse website. For example, you can also view a map of the plane’s progress, a video feed of the mission-control center, and the current power mode of the plane’s electrical system:



    QNX Software Systems is the official realtime OS partner for the Solar Impulse team, and the plane uses the QNX Neutrino OS for several control and data communication functions.

    3/09/2015

    Explaining a technical product to non-technical people

    When people ask what your company does, what do you say? If your company makes cars or chairs or smartphones, the answer is relatively easy. But if your company makes FPGAs, realtime operating systems, or programming tools, the answer can be too down in the weeds for most people.

    Explaining a technical product to a non-technical audience is a challenge. To succeed, you have to meet people on their level, without being condescending. Most people love a good explanation, but everyone hates being talked down to.
    One secret is to connect your product to things people do every day. At QNX, for example, we realized that our technology affects people whether they drive to work, flip a light switch, or use a credit card. So thats how I often start the conversation.
    Chances are, you used QNX technology today, without knowing it. I find this a good opening sentence. I follow it up with some examples that QNX recently published in the infographic, 35 Ways QNX Touches Our Lives (see below). For example, QNX touches your life when you:
    • Flip a light switch — QNX technology controls thousands of power generation systems, from wind turbines to nuclear stations to hydroelectric plants.
    • Go online — QNX technology is at the core of massive Internet routers that handle data, voice, and video traffic for hundreds of millions of users every day.
    • Use a credit card — Banks the world over use QNX-based systems to issue payment cards and PINs, facilitating secure, reliable transactions.
    • Take a nap — QNX-based spinning and weaving systems produce high-quality fabrics for everything from bed sheets to towels, sweaters, and furniture.
    • Keep house — QNX-based robot vacuums can clean your entire home, even under beds and other furniture. So you can sit back instead of hurting your back.
    Once I've provided a few of these examples, it's easier to gauge whether the listener is interested more of a deep dive  the how, rather than the what.
    What about you? Have you had success explaining your technical product to non-technical audiences, be they reporters, analysts, or your great aunt Mildred? If so, what worked? What didn't?

    3/05/2015

    Flying in the dark on solar energy

    Crew of QNX-equipped Solar Impulse plane gears up for historic flight.

    The Solar Impulse 2, aka SI2
    Source: Solar Impulse
    The countdown has begun. On Monday, March 9, the Solar Impulse 2, a one-of-a-kind airplane that runs exclusively on solar power, will take off from an airport in Abu Dhabi. The destination? Abu Dhabi!

    That’s right, this is a round trip — but not just any round trip. It is, in fact, the first attempt to fly around the world using only the power of the sun. On board will be André Borschberg, the former jet pilot who, together with Bertrand Piccard, cofounded the Solar Impulse project 12 years ago. (Piccard’s name may ring a bell — as well it should. In 1999, he became the first person to complete a non-stop balloon circumnavigation of the earth.)

    The Solar Impulse can fly at night, using energy stored in its lithium-ion batteries. But it’s no fly-by-night operation. Borschberg and Piccard have spent the last 12 years on this project and have set 8 world records in the process, including longest uninterrupted flight (26 hours, 10 minutes) and highest altitude (9235 meters) for a solar-powered plane. That’s pretty impressive, but then, everything about this plane is remarkable, from the wingspan (72 meters) to the number of voltaic cells (17250) that power its electric motors.

    Solar Impulse bootup screen. Screen-grab from video.
    The human element is equally impressive. To cross the Pacific or Atlantic ocean, the plane, which has a cruise speed of 90  km/h, will need to stay airborne for about 5 days, nonstop. And that means the pilot also needs to stay airborne for 5 days, in an unheated, unpressurized cabin with temperatures ranging from -40°C to +40°C. Yes, the pilot is allowed to take naps, but only 6 a day, each lasting 20 minutes. Not surprisingly, both pilots (Borschberg and Piccard will each take turns flying the plane), have learned self-hypnosis and meditation techniques to help them enter and exit deep sleep as quickly as possible. The plane can accommodate only one pilot at a time, and the team plans a total of five stops to allow changes of pilots.

    As mentioned in previous posts, QNX Software Systems is the official realtime OS partner for the Solar Impulse team, and the plane uses the QNX Neutrino OS for several control and data communication functions. So, as you can imagine, come next Monday, my browser will be tuned to the Solar Impulse website. I hope yours will, too.

    Until then, here's a “making of” video of the Solar Impulse 2. Enjoy.