11/02/2017

Senior QNX developer takes home Eclipse lifetime contribution award

Doug gets a trophy (and a hug) at EclipseCon Europe.
Kudos to Doug Schaefer of the QNX tools team, who has just received a lifetime contribution award for his leadership in the Eclipse open-source community.

The award recognizes all of the work that Doug has performed to make the Eclipse community vibrant — from serving as project lead for the Eclipse C/C++ Tooling (CDT) project, to sitting on councils and committees that provide guidance to various Eclipse projects.

More than 30 vendors, including BlackBerry QNX, use Eclipse CDT as the foundation for their commercial development tools. And about 1,000,000 developers use the open-source version of Eclipse CDT to create software.

According to Doug, “The award shows that, with great technology, respect for the community, and passion for what we do, we can be influential leaders in the industry. And that’s good for business, since our community involvement enables us to deliver far greater value than if we were working on our own. Our Eclipse work also helps to ensure that every embedded developer knows what a great thing we have going at BlackBerry QNX .”

QNX is a founding member of the Eclipse Foundation and provided the initial contribution for the Eclipse CDT project. The company continues to serve a leadership role in the Eclipse community through the efforts of the QNX Momentics IDE team.

During the day, Doug works as an architect and senior developer at QNX, where he focuses on the editor and build systems for the QNX Momentics IDE.

Doug received his award at EclipseCon Europe, which was held October 26 in Ludwigsburg, Germany. While at the event, Doug chaired the Embedded Tools Summit and presented a new system that makes it easier for Eclipse community members to integrate build tools into Eclipse CDT.

Past winners of the Eclipse lifetime achievement award include Chris Aniszczyk, who now serves as COO of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and Ed Merks, the long-time lead of the Eclipse modeling project.

Did you know? For years, Doug has maintained a blog on Eclipse CDT. I invite you to check it out. And while you're at it, follow him on Twitter.

4/25/2016

Success! Solar Impulse 2 completes trans-Pacific flight

Solar-powered plane lands in Santa Clara county after nonstop, 62-hour trip

Solar Impulse flies over Golden Gate Bridge
Source: Solar Impulse
Imagine you are piloting a plane the size of a 747. But unlike a 747, this plane has an unheated, unpressurized cockpit in which temperatures fall as low as -40°. Moreover, you have to fly for over 60 hours straight, without ever getting up to stretch. And as for sleep, don’t count on getting much. You can take naps, but only about 6 a day, each lasting 20 minutes.

Sound like your kind of challenge? If so, you should sign up to join the Solar Impulse team. Because that’s exactly the kind of endurance needed to pilot Solar Impulse 2, the solar-powered plane that has just completed the latest leg of its historic round-the-world flight.

Last Thursday, Solar Impulse 2 took off from Kalaeloa, Hawaii, with pilot Bertrand Piccard at the helm. (This is the same Piccard who, in 1999, became the first person to complete a non-stop balloon circumnavigation of the earth.) Sixty-two hours later, the plane touched down on Moffett airfield, in Santa Clara county. From there, it will fly to several points across the U.S. before it takes off from New York for a non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

Solar Impulse 2 has four propellers, but doesn’t sip an ounce of fuel. Instead, it relies solely on the power of the sun. As such, it is a testament to modern technology. But as I’ve already hinted, it is also a testament to the depths of human endurance and stick-with-it-ness. If you were impressed that anyone could pilot a plane for over 60 hours straight, consider the plane’s nonstop solo flight from Japan to Hawaii, which took 120 hours from start to finish!

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

Read my previous posts on this groundbreaking project and check out the Solar Impulse website.

4/06/2016

Solar Impulse returns to the skies

Crew of QNX-equipped solar plane set to resume historic flight

Solar Impulse: powered only
by the sun  
Source: Solar Impulse
In case you missed it, Solar Impulse, the solar-powered airplane that is flying around the world to promote green energy, has returned to the skies.

The Solar Impulse team suffered a temporary setback last summer, when the plane’s batteries overheated during a five-day flight between Japan and Hawaii. Battery problems notwithstanding, the 120-hour trip set a world record for longest non-stop solo flight.

The team has since upgraded the plane with a newer (and cooler) battery system and has successfully completed three test flights. If all goes as planned, the plane will take off from Hawaii in mid-April for a four-day journey to the continental United States. Once the plane completes its U.S. crossing, it will fly non-stop across the Atlantic.

The plane’s round-the-world trek began on March 9, 2015, when it took off from an airport in Abu Dhabi. It then completed several hops, totaling 18000 kilometers, before landing in Kalaeloa on June 28.

Solar Impulse may be powered by the sun, but it can fly at night, using energy stored in its lithium-ion batteries — all 17250 of them. The plane is massive, with the wing span of a Boeing 747, yet weighs no more than a family car.

Solar Impulse bootup screen. Screen-grab from video.
QNX Software Systems is the official realtime OS partner for the Solar Impulse team. The plane uses the QNX Neutrino OS for several control and data communication functions.

I’ve been tracking the progress of the Solar Impulse project since 2009. Read my previous posts, which include a look at the plane’s virtual cockpit. And remember to check out the Solar Impulse website.

2/23/2016

From clean socks to secure transactions, QNX brings it all to Embedded World

Every year, QNX Software Systems exhibits at the Embedded World conference in Nuremburg. And every year, we like to mix things up and do something different. For instance, in years past, we have showcased a robotic vacuum, a heart defibrillator, a pipeline inspection system, an Oscar-winning flying camera, a programmable logic controller, and a control panel for bulldozers — all running on the QNX Neutrino OS.

What have we got lined up this year? Plenty, as it turns out. Once again, our booth will feature several QNX-based products, including:

  • An innovative double-drum washing machine that cleans two loads of laundry simultaneously — finally, you can wash lights and darks at the same time!
  • A Modular Train Control System (MTCS) from MEN Mikro Elektronik that complies with the EN 50155 functional safety standard and is based on the QNX OS for Safety
  • A hardware security module from Worldline that protects secret keys and performs high-speed cryptographic operations for secure data transactions
  • A traffic-light controller from SWARCO that helps improve traffic flow and optimizes the use of existing road infrastructure — learn more about this system in this morning’s press release

It’s hard to imagine four systems that could be more different. And yet, the developers of these systems all chose the same OS — a testament to the “bend it, shape it, any way you want it” quality of QNX technology. Not to mention its performance and reliability.

The Bluetooth connection
Of course, we can’t show up at Europe’s biggest embedded systems conference without bringing something new for embedded developers. And so, this year, we are demonstrating the QNX SDK for Bluetooth Connectivity, a new middleware solution for medical devices, industrial automation systems, consumer appliances, and other embedded system applications.

Designed for flexibility, the SDK offers a dual-mode Bluetooth Smart Ready stack that supports classic Bluetooth connectivity as well as connectivity to Bluetooth Low Energy devices. It also supports a comprehensive set of pre-integrated Bluetooth profiles, including the classic PAN, SPP, HDP, HID, FTP, and OPP profiles, as well as the BAS, FMP, HRP, HOGP, and PXP Low Energy profiles. Here’s the SDK at a glance:


For developers of infusion pumps, vital-sign monitors, and other medical devices, the SDK includes an IEEE 11073 Personal Health Data stack certified by the Continua Health Alliance. This stack enables easy interoperability with pulse oximeters, weight scales, and other Bluetooth-enabled peripherals, and addresses the growing demand for health devices that can wirelessly collect patient data, either at home or in a clinical setting.

Of course, the proof of the Bluetooth pudding is in the pairing. So we've also built a demo that shows how the SDK can help developers build vital-sign monitors and other connected embedded systems. The demo system can discover and pair with Bluetooth classic and Bluetooth Low Energy devices, render their data onto a touchscreen display based on Qt 5, and provide a history of heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and other vitals:

A screen capture of the Bluetooth-powered QNX medical demo
Read the press release and product-overview page to learn more about the new QNX SDK for Bluetooth Connectivity.

And if you are Nuremberg this week, drop by and see us! We’re in Hall 4, Booth 534.

10/26/2015

Developing software for safety-critical systems? This book is for you

In-depth volume covers development of systems under the IEC 61508, ISO 26262, EN 50128, and IEC 62304 standards

In June, I told you of an upcoming book by my colleague Chris Hobbs, who works as a software safety specialist here at QNX Software Systems. Well, I’m happy to say that the book is now available. It’s called Embedded Software Development for Safety-Critical Systems and it explores design practices for building medical devices, railway control systems, industrial control systems, and, of course, automotive ADAS devices.

The book:
  • covers the development of safety-critical systems under ISO 26262, IEC 61508, EN 50128, and IEC 62304
  • helps developers learn how to justify their work to external auditors
  • discusses the advantages and disadvantages of architectural and design practices recommended in the standards, including replication and diversification, anomaly detection, and so-called “safety bag” systems
  • examines the use of open-source components in safety-critical systems
Interested? I invite to you to visit the CRC Press website, where you can view the full Table of Contents and, of course, order the book.

A version of this post originally appeared on the QNX Auto Blog.

7/15/2015

The high cost of low-performing medical devices

Guest post by my colleague Patryk Fournier, medical marketing communications manager for QNX Software Systems

Manufacturers of consumer products have long used money-back guarantees to promote laundry detergent, newspapers, pizza, and yes, even beer, as a way to reassure consumers about the purchase they are making. You can now add medical devices to the list.

Last week, Reuters reported that medical device manufacturers have begun to offer device performance and reliability guarantees to hospitals:

“Medical device makers, facing sluggish sales and increasing pressure to prove the value of their products, are beefing up guarantees to compensate U.S. hospitals if a device does not perform as expected.”

Medical device manufacturers already operate in a challenging environment filled with stringent regulatory requirements and industry pressures. They must develop increasingly complex devices in timelines that are more typical of consumer-grade electronics, but difficult to meet in a regulated industry. The added burden of providing compensation to hospitals simply adds a cost line directly attributed to device performance or reliability issues.

These product guarantees underscore the importance of building a medical device on a solid, robust, and reliable realtime operating system. Not having a reliable OS will cost medical device manufacturers — literally and figuratively.

At QNX Software Systems, we’ve been taking reliability seriously for almost 35 years. That’s why our OS supports intelligent fault recovery to enable high uptimes, time partitioning to ensure availability of critical processes, security mechanisms to help devices from attack, and realtime determinism to help applications meet hard deadlines. Moreover, this OS technology has been deployed in dialysis machines, infusion pumps, angiography systems, CT scanners, surgical robots, heart defibrillators, and a host of other medical devices.

No, we don’t offer money-back guarantees. But I think we offer something better: tools, services, and certifications to help our medical-device customers save time, money, and effort in the first place.

7/03/2015

They did it! Solar Impulse team makes non-stop flight from Japan to Hawaii

Solar-powered plane sets new endurance record while completing toughest leg of round-the-world journey.

Touching down in Kalaeloa
Source: Solar Impulse 
Now here's good news for a Friday afternoon: The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane outfitted with QNX technology, has landed safely in Kalaeloa, Hawaii, after completing the longest leg of its round-the-world mission and setting a new endurance record for solo flight.

The plane lifted off from Nagoya on June 28 and touched down in Kalaeloa almost 120 hours later, using the sun as its only power source. And did I mention? The plane had only pilot, AndrĂ© Borschberg, who was at the helm for the entire 5-day flight. Yes, he was able to take naps while the plane was on autopilot — but only 6 a day, each lasting 20 minutes. Color me impressed.

The team’s round-the-world flight, which started on March 9 in Abu Dhabi, hit a snag when the plane reached Nagoya, where weeks of bad weather threatened to cancel the project. But, finally, a five-day window of clear weather opened and the team was able to resume its historic journey, which is dedicated to the promotion of green energy.

The team’s other pilot, Bertrand Piccard, will fly the next leg, from Honolulu to Phoenix, Arizona. Piccard’s name may ring a bell, but not because of any Star Trek connection: In 1999, he became the first person to complete a non-stop balloon circumnavigation of the earth.

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. Read my previous posts for more information on the Solar Impulse project.