New Canon 8D digital SLR equipped with immersive 3D technology

UPDATE: April Fool's is over folks, so it's time to own up: This post is a prank. Except, of course, for the part about Japan. The folks there need our prayers and support. Japanese companies like Canon enrich our lives immeasurably, and I wish them all the best in the coming months.

This just in: Canon has announced the successor to the 7D, its flagship APS-C sensor digital SLR. The new Canon 8D surpasses the 7D with industry-leading 24-megapixel resolution, a top burst speed of almost 10 raw images per second (to a maximum of 32 images), a swivel LCD screen, full HD video, and, for the first time in a Canon SLR, support for 3D imaging.

Unlike the optical 3D technology offered by existing digital cameras and camcorders, the 8D uses sonar technology to create a 360-degree 3D rendering of a subject. The data can then be imported into surround video systems to create immersive images of landscapes and other subjects that literally wrap around the viewer — much as surround-sound systems envelop the listener in sound.

To display surround images generated by the Canon 8D, consumers will need video systems complying with the 3DS video standard, which is expected to debut in products by Samsung and Panasonic by early summer 2011.

According to a Canon spokesman, the 8D is the company's first camera to utilize a 64-bit quad-core processor, presumably to handle the large raw files and 3D images.

Getting serious
This "announcement" is, of course, an April fool's prank. But there's nothing funny about what's happening in Canon's home country, Japan. The products created by the folks at Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, and other camera manufacturers bring the world untold enjoyment and utility. I thank them for what they do, I wish them well in the coming months ahead, and I encourage everyone to support them and to keep them in their thoughts and prayers.

And yes, I'm looking forward to seeing what the real 8D will offer.


BlackBerry PlayBook to support BlackBerry Java, Android apps, and native C/C++

This just in: Research In Motion (RIM) has announced plans to greatly expand the application ecosystem for the BlackBerry PlayBook.

According to the press release, the company will launch two optional “app players” that provide a runtime environment for BlackBerry Java apps and Android v2.3 apps. These new app players will let users download BlackBerry Java apps and Android apps from BlackBerry App World and run them on their BlackBerry PlayBook.

Also, RIM will soon release the native SDK for the BlackBerry PlayBook, enabling C/C++ application development on the BlackBerry® Tablet OS. For game-specific developers, RIM states that it has gained support from two leading game development tooling companies, allowing developers to use the cross-platform game engines from Ideaworks Labs and Unity Technologies to bring their games to the BlackBerry PlayBook.

All this is in addition to the PlayBook's existing support for HTML5, Flash and AIR.

I'm barely scratching the surface of the announcement. Read the full version here.

Hyundai vehicles to run TCS navigation service on QNX Neutrino OS

This just in: TeleCommunication Systems (TCS) has announced it will ship an off-board navigational service that runs on the QNX Neutrino OS. The service will support Hyundai Blue Link, an all-new telematics platform for upcoming Hyundai vehicles.

According to the press release, the TCS solution can make driving less stressful by providing turn-by-turn navigation and alternate routes based on the latest traffic conditions. It can also provide location-based destination searching, allowing the driver to, say, find the lowest nearby gas price.

With full sensor and GPS radio integration and navigation features such as hybrid routing, the system can continue to operate in certain situations when cellular coverage isn’t available.

Stated Linda Campbell of QNX Software Systems, “the TCS solution highlights how navigation technology can improve driver function and safety… drivers receiving voice-prompted directions are able to keep their eyes on the road while being guided to their destination.”

For more details, read the TCS press release.


The first QNX computer and other tales from way back when

Lots of people, including Ronen at BerryReview, enjoyed my post about the first magazine article on QNX. (It turns out that an even earlier article exists... but that's another story.)

That got me to thinking: About a year ago, I published some posts documenting key milestones in the history of QNX, starting with the very first QNX-based computer.

I started reading through the posts again, and you know what? Some of them aren't half bad. Here are my favorites:
Has the world changed since 1980, or what?

The PlayBook countdown begins!

This just in: RIM has announced that the BlackBerry PlayBook with Wi-Fi will be available in 3 models, featuring 16G, 32G, or 64G of storage, starting April 19.

If you live in the US or Canada, you can pre-order your PlayBook starting today. Just visit your local Best Buy, Best Buy Mobile, or Future Shop store, or order online:

US – www.bestbuy.com/playbook
Canada - www.bestbuy.ca/blackberry or www.futureshop.ca/blackberry

You can read the RIM press release here.


First QNX article, revisited

It was like shooting fish in a barrel.

Last week, I put out a challenge: Could anyone find an article on QNX that pre-dates the one published in the March 21, 1983 edition of InfoWorld?

I was pretty sure the 1983 article was the earliest one available on the web. But when doing my search, I had made a mistake: I failed to search for "Quantum Software Systems," the original name of the company now known as QNX Software Systems. Doh! I also failed to search for the original spelling of the QNX OS (i.e. QUNIX). Color me embarrassed.

A reader named Winfield (aka BlackBerrySith) twigged to this and quickly kinged me as the discoverer of the earliest known QNX article. To read the article he unearthed, published on October 11, 1982, click here.

In fact, searches for "QUNIX" yield other interesting results, such as a magazine ad from 1982.

What's with the name?
As mentioned above, the QNX OS was originally called QUNIX. The name was coined to suggest that the OS offered the reliability and programming interfaces of UNIX, but with decidedly better performance.

It sounded like a good idea. That's until AT&T, who owned the UNIX trademark, got wind of it. Their legal folks immediately fired off a letter, asking QNX Software Systems to cease and desist.

The solution was elegant: simply remove the vowels. And ever since then, QNX has had two accepted pronunciations: cue-nix, or cue-en-ex. Your choice.


30 years of QNX: The first QNX article?

Here's one for all you QNX history buffs, or for anyone who likes a good challenge. I've been trying to track down the first magazine article on QNX, and so far, the earliest one I've found was published by InfoWorld in 1983. (If your mental arithmetic is rusty, that's 28 years ago!)

At the time, the company was called Quantum, not QNX Software Systems, and the president was a fellow named Syd Geraghty — I'm pretty sure Syd was the company's first full-time employee.

The article mentions that the QNX OS was in rev 1.0, ran only on x86, and fit into 96k of memory. But to me, this is the most interesting bit:

    "Geraghty gave InfoWorld a brief demonstration of an experimental QNX user interface designed for the IBM PC. The interface will eventually allow users to grow 'windows' on the screen and run separate tasks in each window."

Takeaway: Even in 1983, QNX saw the value of a UI that provided users with true multitasking — Holy BlackBerry PlayBook, Batman!

I mentioned a challenge, and here it is: Can you find an even earlier article on QNX? If you can, I will bow to your superior search-engine mastery.

To read the InfoWorld article, click here.


Lots of cool QNX apps, all in one video

A couple of days ago, Paul Brent from CTV Ottawa, a local television station, dropped by for a chat with some QNX VPs. He also filmed several QNX-based devices in action, including a casino gaming machine, an Audi A8 infotainment system, the QNX concept car, the QNX medical reference design, and, last but not least, the BlackBerry Playbook.

You can check them all out in a video CTV posted last night. To view it, click here, then click on the video player in the middle of the CTV web page. You will have to watch a short commercial before the video starts (sorry about that).


Embedded World video: iControl's home management platform

In February I introduced you to iControl's broadband home management platform, which uses an ARM-powered, QNX-controlled touchscreen to access thermostats, security cameras, healthcare services, news apps, and a variety of other services.

Well, here's a brand new video of the iControl system, taken at the recent embedded world conference. This time round, you get to see some nice closeups of the touchscreen interface:



QNX drives home with 2010 TMCnet SmartAuto Telematics Pioneer Award

This just in: Global media company TMC has announced that QNX Software Systems is the winner of the 2010 TMCnet SmartAuto Telematics Pioneer Award.

According to the press release, the award recognizes "the QNX CAR application platform for its achievement in providing a reusable software base that can be leveraged across a variety of automotive infotainment applications."

Adds Rich Tehrani, CEO of TMC, “Congratulations to QNX Software Systems for being the first on this elite list of the best smart auto technology solutions.”


Videos: QNX automotive demo at embedded world and CES

Last week, the ARM video crew visited the QNX booth at embedded world to shoot this video of the QNX automotive demo. Highlights include a digital instrument cluster that can morph itself on the fly and a proof-of-concept demonstration of PlayBook connectivity. Check it out:

Here's another video of the demo, taken at CES in January. Among other things, this video shows integration with BlackBerrys, iPods, and, of course, the PlayBook:

To build the demo, QNX engineers used the QNX CAR Application Platform.


Video: A closer look at the QNX medical reference design

Last week, I treated you to a video of the QNX medical reference design. Well, at the risk of repeating myself, here's a brand new video of the reference design, filmed at the embedded world conference in Nuremburg.

In this video, you get a closer (and clearer) look at the system's human machine interface, or HMI. And because the system is based on QNX technology, you also get to see some spiffy BlackBerry PlayBook integration.

Grab some popcorn, dim the lights, and check it out:

As mentioned in previous posts (here and here), the medical reference design runs on the QNX Neutrino RTOS. The CPU is a Freescale imx51 processor based on an ARM Cortex-A8 core, and the user interface is built with the Qt framework.

Many thanks to our friends at ARM for shooting the video.


Video: The dynamic dashboard

So, how's your German? A bit rusty? Well, don't worry. Even if you can't sprechen sie deutsch, you can still appreciate this video from Manne Kreuzer of Markt&Technik magazine. The video features QNX's Bernhard Kockoth providing a guided tour of the QNX automotive demo at embedded world 2011.

Highlights include a dynamically reconfigurable digital instrument cluster and connectivity to the BlackBerry PlayBook. The demo was built with the QNX CAR Application Platform.

I can't seem to embed the video, but you can view it by clicking here.


Video: QNX medical reference design

Check out this video of Freescale's Mickael Viot demonstrating the new medical reference design from QNX Software Systems. As I've mentioned in previous posts, device connectivity is a key feature of the reference design. And indeed, Mickael demonstrates how the reference design can communicate with pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs, and other Continua Certified medical devices.

If you look under the hood of this reference design, you'll find the QNX Neutrino RTOS, a user interface based on the Qt framework, and a Freescale imx51 processor based on an ARM Cortex-A8 core. To communicate with medical devices, the reference design uses the Bluetooth Health Device Profile.

For previous posts on the medical reference design, click here and here.
Also, check out Sujata Neidig's blog post on the Freescale site.

For the press release announcing the medical reference design, click here.



QNX unveils first RTOS to offer both safety and security certification

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that QNX always likes to make a big splash at the annual embedded world conference. Well, the big splash for this year is now public: QNX has taken the covers off the first RTOS product to provide both safety and security certification.

Yesterday, QNX announced QNX Neutrino RTOS Certified Plus, which offers both IEC 61508 certification at Safety Integrity Level 3 (SIL 3) and Common Criteria ISO/IEC 15408 certfication at Evaluation Assurance Level 4+ (EAL 4+).

The goal of this product is simple: To help developers of railway control systems, medical devices, automotive systems, wind turbines, and other mission-critical applications reduce the time and expense of certifying their end-products.

You see, safety and security certification at the system level can cost millions of dollars and take years to achieve. Using a pre-certified OS can help cut that cost and accelerate certification efforts. A few operating systems provide safety or security certification, but not both. QNX Neutrino RTOS Certified Plus is the first OS to fill this gap.

Chris Hobbs, a kernel developer at QNX, has authored several papers on creating applications that meet rigorous reliability and functional safety requirements, including IEC 61508 SIL 3. For a list of these papers, see my previous blog post.


ABI: BMW takes top marks in innovation and implementation

This just in: ABI Research has ranked BMW #1 in its latest automotive vendor matrix. Second and third spots go to Ford and GM, respectively, for their SYNC and OnStar systems.

In a press release issued yesterday, ABI states that BMW offers "the most balanced approach to the connected car paradigm, combining superior embedded ConnectedDrive technology with smartphone application integration on iOS, Android, and Blackberry...”.

The BMW ConnectedDrive system is based on the QNX Neutrino OS, as is the GM Onstar system.

ABI developed the matrix to assess vendors "on the important parameters of innovation and implementation...". For details, including the criteria ABI used for evaluation, read the press release.

If you're unfamiliar with the BMW ConnectedDrive system, check out this video taken at CES 2011. It features Derek Kuhn of QNX providing a guided tour of the system's integration with BlackBerry smartphones: