Which OS for IEC 62304 medical systems?

The question, to some degree, is rhetorical. I work for an OS company, that company has developed a 62304-compliant OS for medical device manufacturers... you see where this is going.

But don't go yet. This week, my colleague Chris Ault will present a webinar on this very topic, and the content he'll cover should prove useful to anyone choosing an OS for a medical device — or, for that matter, any device that must operate reliably and safely.

In case you're wondering, the Linux question will definitely come up. Linux does lots of things very well, but does it belong in a safety-critical device? Knowing Chris, he'll offer a suitably unambiguous answer — and some solid reasoning to back it up.

Okay, enough from me. To learn more about the webinar, which will be held this
Thursday, September 27, at 2 pm eastern, visit the QNX website.


So where is QNX going in automotive?

Head unit from the QNX
reference vehicle
Want a short and sweet intro on what QNX is doing in the automotive industry? Then be sure to check out "A Look At The Near Future Of In-Car Technology," published this week in The Washington Post and in Motor Authority. (Same article in both cases, though Motor Authority has more pictures :-)

The article is based on an interview with my friend and colleague Andy Gryc, who is also my go-to person whenever I'm trying to understand anything about in-car infotainment. It covers the bases, from how QNX technology helps automakers project their brand identities to how it will enable a new generation of apps in the car.

Enough of my blather. Check out the article and let me know what you think.

A version of this post also appeared in the QNX auto blog.


How to keep track of QNX board support packages, without really trying

If you're an embedded developer using the QNX Neutrino OS, it pays to keep up to date on QNX support for the latest evaluation and reference boards. Doing so is easy: just subscribe to the QNX Source newsletter, which provides a monthly update on any new or updated board support packages (BSPs).

The newsletter also provides links to the latest webinars, whitepapers, videos, and press releases — you'll find it the easiest way to stay on top of all things QNX, without really trying.

For instance, here's a sneak peek of the BSP section in the upcoming issue:

BSP Update
Freescale i.MX6Q Nitrogen6x
Freescale i.MX6Q Sabre Board for Smart Devices
Freescale i.MX53 Quickstart
TI AM335 Beaglebone
TI AM335x starter kit
TI OMAP 3730 Beagleboard-xM

Wireless Drivers
Wireless drivers for LS Research Tiwi Modules are now available for the following reference boards:
TI AM335x starter kit
TI OMAP 3730 Beagleboard-xM

Subscribing to the newsletter is super easy. So what you are waiting for?


A (much) closer look at the QNX CAR 2 application platform

Have previous QNX CAR videos left you hungry for more? Then have I got a video for you. It covers all the bases, from the platform’s HTML5 framework to app-download features, multimedia, streaming radio, device connectivity, and my personal favorite, the virtual mechanic.

But before you hit the Play button, put on some extra popcorn. You're going to need it, as this puppy clocks in at almost 22 minutes.


What has the QNX auto team been up to?

Well, let's see...


Green shift: QNX sponsors EcoCar 2 competition

This just in: QNX has officially announced that it is a bronze sponsor of the "EcoCar 2: Plugging in to the Future" competition. Established by GM and the U.S. Department of Energy, the competition challenges universities across North America to reduce the environmental impact of a Chevrolet Malibu without compromising performance, safety, or consumer acceptability.

QNX Software Systems will provide teams with access to the QNX CAR 2 application platform, which serves as the foundation for the infotainment systems and digital instrument clusters being developed for the vehicle. This is the same QNX CAR platform featured in the QNX reference vehicle.

For more information on the competition and on QNX's involvement, check out this post on the QNX auto blog.


Qt Creator 2.6 introduces QNX support

This just in: The Qt developer blog has announced a new release of Qt Creator, the integrated development environment for creating applications and user interfaces based on the Qt application framework. (If you're unfamiliar with Qt, check out these previous posts.)

The new release, version 2.6, is now in beta and introduces two key features: support for the QNX OS and a concept called kits.

According to Eike Ziller of the Qt developer blog, a kit is a user-defined combination of compiler, debugger, Qt version, and target device. As a developer, you can freely choose each kit setting independent of all other settings. For instance, you can mix and match compilers and Qt versions. Qt Creator will warn you if it thinks you're choosing a dumb combination, but otherwise gives you free rein over the configuration.

Kits are new to 2.6 and they replace a concept called targets. Targets served a similar function, but were "hardwired". If you deviated from the default setting of a target, you had to manually change all build and run configurations. But now, with targets, the IDE makes these changes for you.

Qt Creator 2.6 supports both QNX and Android, but doesn't support Symbian. According to Ziller, Symbian support had to be dropped because of a lack of maintainers.

Here's a screen capture of the Kit Preferences dialog:

For details on Qt Creator 2.6, visit the Qt developer blog.


Video: QNX-powered system fires protons to kill cancer

Proton therapy system, Indiana University Health Proton Therapy Center
The QNX-powered proton therapy 
system, or PTS
It zaps cancer cells to kingdom come. Better yet, it wipes them out while leaving healthy cells alone. It's called proton therapy, and it's one of the deadliest weapons in the arsenal against cancer.

Conventional radiotherapy may be potent, but it has a drawback. It can sometimes damage healthy tissue, and this damage can lead to secondary cancers later in life — a problem among children, who may live for many years after treatment and who are more likely to suffer from this side-effect.

There is, then, a real need to avoid radiating healthy tissue while maximizing the damage to the diseased tissue. And that's where proton therapy comes in.

Surgical strikes
Protons are relatively heavy, charged particles. They do minimal damage as they pass through tissue, but inflict significant damage where they stop. The challenge is to control the proton beams so that they stop exactly where you want them — the tumor.

Enter the QNX-powered proton therapy system (PTS) at the Indiana University Health Proton Therapy Center. Using the PTS, a radiotherapist can limit damage mostly to where the tumor is located. The radiotherapist can even "mold" the proton beam into the same shape as the tumor. This accuracy makes proton therapy especially useful for treating tumors located near vital organs. It can also reduce long-term effects sometimes associated with conventional forms of radiotherapy. And it serves as an alternative for patients who have already received other forms of treatment and have incurred damage to healthy tissue as a result — proton therapy can minimize the possibility that more healthy tissue is affected.

Delivering the right dose
The PTS uses the QNX OS in its dose delivery system (DDS) — think of it as the business end of the PTS. The DDS controls devices on the system’s nozzle (the beam transport and detection hardware closest to the patient) and measures dose-related values. The DDS also implements an energy-stacking scheme to obtain uniform depth-dose distributions.

The QNX OS allows the DDS to achieve very fast response times. For instance, if beam delivery must stop for any reason, the OS helps ensure that it stops immediately — and in this application, immediately is the only viable option.

I'm feeling appreciative
Before I let you go, a word of thanks to the folks at the proton therapy center. A year ago, I approached them out of nowhere with a proposal to do a video. Their response was overwhelmingly positive. They willingly gave of their time to discuss the proposal, explain what they do, and, of course, work with us on the video itself. While I'm at it, I'd also like to thank my friend and colleague Nancy Young for her fantastic work on this and all the other QNX videos she has produced in the last couple of years. (Speaking of which, have you subscribed to the QNX YouTube channel yet?)