QNX nabs two finalist spots at Telematics Detroit awards

This just in: QNX Software Systems has been shortlisted for two 2010 Telematics Detroit awards. The QNX CAR application platform is up for a Best Telematics Component award, and the LTE Connected Car, a joint project of QNX and Alcatel-Lucent, is up for an Industry Newcomer award.

Two other systems based on the QNX Neutrino RTOS have also made it into the finalist ring. The Audi A8 MMI system with Google Earth is up for a Best Embedded Telematics Navigation Product award, and the OnStar system is a finalist in no less than three categories.

Finalists and winners for the Telematics Detroit awards are chosen by an independent panel of industry experts from the automotive, mobile, and web industries.


Videos: RCS Wireless takes LTE Connected Car for a stationary spin

If you don't already know, the LTE Connected Car is a concept vehicle created by QNX and Alcatel-Lucent to showcase how 4G mobile networks will transform the driving experience. This week, QNX is demonstrating the car at the Embedded Systems Conference, and a roving reporter from RCS Wireless caught up with QNX's Jeff Schaffer to find out what the car is all about. The reporter shot two videos, and you can view them here.

30 years of QNX: The first QNX website

Here’s something you won’t find anywhere else, not even on the Internet Archive: A facsimile of the very first QNX home page, as it appeared in Spring 1995.

The page design may have been primitive by today’s standards, but on the other hand, you didn’t have to navigate through a maze of columns, tabs, and banners to find what you wanted. Good, that.

Click to enlarge.

A year later, QNX boldly went where no operating system vendor had gone before and embraced a 3D Star Trek look:

Click to enlarge.

Note the logo on both pages — this was back when QNX supported any processor as long as it was x86. All that changed a few years later with the release of the QNX Neutrino RTOS, which was designed to run on multiple platforms: ARM, PowerPC, MIPs, SH-4, etc.

QNX announces IEC 61508 certification service for safety-critical systems

For decades, developers have been using the QNX RTOS in hydro plants, nuclear reactors, railway communication systems, emergency dispatch centers, and a multitude of other safety-critical environments.

Like software-based systems everywhere, the monitoring and control applications in these environments are growing in complexity. And the more complex they become, the greater the demand for safety standards and certifications. Chief among these is IEC 61508, an international standard for the functional safety of electrical/electronic/programmable safety-related systems.

Achieving IEC 61508 certification isn't easy. To earn it, your product must undergo a rigorous assessment by an independent certification body. For instance, QNX Software Systems started the process of certifying the QNX Neutrino RTOS to IEC 61508 Safety Integrity Level 3 (SIL 3) last year and expects to achieve certification this June. And that's for a product with a proven history in safety-critical environments.

Still, for customers building safety-critical systems, using an 61508-certified RTOS is just the beginning. In most cases, customers also have to certify the larger system that incorporates the RTOS. To help customers navigate the complexities of the IEC 61508 certification process, up to and including SIL 3, QNX has announced a new IEC 61508 Certification Support Package.

According to the press release, the package includes "consulting services and a confidence-in-use manual, which provide professional knowledge and expertise based on years of experience in QNX technology, process-oriented development, and certification audits." The package also provides "documented confidence-in-use data, which can serve as important building blocks for a customer’s certification program."

For the full text of the press release, click here. For more information on QNX's certification programs, click here.


Reap the zombies, Take 2

Well, boys and girls, it's time to wipe the egg off my face. Last night, I posted an article on the QNX Neutrino RTOS v6.5 and claimed that it introduces a new feature: the ability to reap zombies. In other words, it can kill off "undead" processes that have terminated but still have an entry in the process table.

As it turns out, there is nothing new about this feature. QNX Neutrino can already reap zombies, thank you very much; it now simply does a better job of it in certain situations.

And guess what: the article contained incorrect information about a couple of other new features as well.

Now that I've come clean, let's review what version 6.5 does support:
  • symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) on ARM Cortex-A9 processors and Freescale Power e500MC processor cores

  • SMP on multi-core processors with up to 32 cores

  • faster kernel performance under heavy memory utilization

  • higher file system throughput on many platforms, as well as new parameters to fine-tune file system performance

  • support for Intel APICs and MSIs, and expanded support for x86 boards from Advantech, Intel, and Kontron

  • a new Persistent Publish/Subscribe (PPS) service that helps simplify the design and maintenance of systems that integrate diverse software and hardware components
Besides adding new OS features, QNX Software Systems is also putting the finishing touches on version 6.5 of the QNX Momentics Tool Suite. Enhancements include:
  • support for the Eclipse platform 3.5.2, Eclipse CDT 6.0, and GCC 4.4.2

  • optimizations to dynamic linking, including lazy linking and GNU hashing
For more information of version 6.5 of the QNX Neutrino RTOS and QNX Momentics Tool Suite, click here. To download an experimental version, click here.

Version 6.5 is slated for release in June 2010.


QNX is hiring. So where's your resume?

The people of Haiti have a wonderful saying: "Beyond every mountain is another mountain." At QNX, we've successfully conquered a few mountains recently, as evidenced by our strong growth in the automotive market. But our success has brought its own challenge: the need for more talent.

Simply put, QNX is hiring. And we plan to hire even more in the coming months. Right now, we're looking for:
Our China office is also looking for talent:
Why work for QNX? Because, among other things, customers use QNX technology for really cool stuff, like the Audi A8 MMI system, and for deeply important stuff, like systems that treat cancer.

Cool and important. You can't do much better than that.

BTW, if you apply, tell them Paul sent you.


Before you take that next bite, thank QNX

Trust. It’s a simple word. But without trust, the world would come to a grinding halt.

Just imagine getting into your car if you couldn't trust it to get you home in one piece. Or asking a friend for advice if you couldn't trust him to keep a secret. Or sitting down to dinner if you couldn't trust that the food in front of you is safe to eat.

The food supply, in particular, enjoys a immense amount of public trust. After all, when's the last time you hesitated biting into a jelly donut, fearing it might contain stray bits of plastic? If you're like me, probably never. (Which could explain why I wolfed down three donuts before lunch this morning.)

Kidding aside, making food safe enough to earn this trust isn’t easy. Companies in the food industry must remain diligent at every stage of the preparation and production process — and that diligence must continue even after food has been packaged.

Enter the QNX-based RAYCON product inspection system. Using X-Ray technology, this system can scan packaged food and detect a variety of potential contaminants — everything from metal and glass to ceramics, stones, raw bones, PVC, rubber, and plastics. For instance, in the following image, the RAYCOM system has detected metal and glass contaminants in a bag of dates:

The principle behind the RAYCOM system is simple: Many contaminants absorb X-Rays to a higher or lower degree than the surrounding product. If the RAYCOM system detects an anomalous level of X-Ray absorption, it sounds the alarm.

Mind you, the system isn’t restricted to identifying contaminants. It can also detect deformed or broken food products. It can even detect whether ingredients are missing, such as jelly in a jelly donut. Good, that.

Using the QNX realtime OS, the RAYCON system can inspect up to 600 pieces per minute. According to the RAYCON website, the QNX OS offers several advantages, such as eliminating the need for hard drives and UPS systems, and allowing product inspection tasks to leverage the full capacity of the CPU.

For me, one of the coolest features is the system’s “auto-train” mode. To train the system’s software to recognize a good product, you pass a known, perfect product sample through the machine. The software then uses that sample as a template and will reject any product that deviates from the template.

Another cool feature: The system can inspect multiple types of product in parallel, even if individual items are misaligned:

To learn more about this system, visit the RAYCOM website.


Terms of QNX acquisition disclosed in regulatory filing

This just in: The Ottawa Citizen reported this morning that Research in Motion (RIM) has agreed to pay $200 million U.S. to acquire QNX Software Systems from Harman International.

According to the press release that Harman and RIM issued last Friday, the deal is anticipated to close within 35-45 days.

My regular readers may be wondering why I haven't commented on the acquisition thus far. Rest assured that my silence is only a reflection of how busy I've been in the past week. I hope to post some reflections in the coming days.


QNX and Alcatel-Lucent drive home with strategic partnership award

This just in: OCRI, Ottawa’s lead economic development agency, has announced that QNX Software Systems and Alcatel-Lucent have won the 2010 OCRI Strategic Partnership Award.

QNX and Alcatel-Lucent were chosen for their collaboration on the LTE Connected Car, a concept vehicle that showcases how 4G/Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks will make the automobile a first-class citizen of the cloud.

QNX Software Systems provided the software foundation for the LTE Connected Car, including the operating system, touchscreen user interfaces, media players for YouTube and Pandora, navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, multimedia playback, handsfree integration, games, and a virtual mechanic. All components are based on the QNX CAR application platform.

This isn't the first time the QNX CAR platform has come to the attention of award judges. Back in October, it won an Adobe MAX award for transforming the driving experience through innovative use of Adobe Flash technology.

For more information on the LTE Connected Car, check out my previous posts.


Can my marriage survive the QNX smart energy reference?

My wife and I agree on almost everything, with one notable exception: the thermostat.

Here's the problem. When she's freezing, I'm toasty warm — and when she's toasty warm, I'm broiling. Mind you, all this changes in the middle of the night, when my metabolism does an inverse backwards somersault. Suddenly I'm freezing and she's toasty.

It's no surprise, then, that the thermostat has become a flashpoint. I turn it down and my wife turns its up. I turn it down again and she turns it up again. Repeat until married couple reaches critical mass.

So imagine my wife's dismay when I told her that the QNX smart energy reference allows home energy systems to be controlled remotely over the Internet. Great, she thought, now's he going to download a smartphone app and crank down the temperature when he's not even home.

Kidding aside, the smart energy reference, which helps developers create in-home security, monitoring, and automation applications, is now available for download. Better yet, you can download versions for several platforms, including the Atmel G45, Freescale i.MX25, Freescale i.MX35, TI BeagleBoard, and VMware.

Features include:
  • support for Zigbee sensors, Insteon home area networks (HANs), and streaming IP video cameras

  • an app for calculating costs of energy consumption

  • zone temperature controls, individual and zone light controls, and appliance monitoring and control

  • support for deploying human machine interfaces (HMIs) in Adobe Flash
The smart energy reference also takes advantage of QNX's persistent publish/subscribe technology, which I've discussed in previous posts. This technology provides an efficient abstraction layer between the HMI (user interface) and the system’s control software. As a result, it becomes much easier to add, change, or upgrade sensors, thermostats, alarms, and control mechanisms, without having to change the HMI.

Speaking of the HMI, here's a screen capture of the main screen for the smart energy reference. But why stop at a still picture, when you can see a moving picture instead? Click here to see videos of the reference on three platforms: Atmel, Freescale, and TI.

Click to enlarge.