Welcome to Inforce Computing’s June 2016 Newsletter! In this issue of Inforce Insights, we’d like to share a couple of useful technical application notes and two exciting customer case studies (scroll down). What does enabling 3D printing, computer vision, video analytics, and space-bound free-flying robots have in common? All of these are powered by advanced Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor-based Inforce Computing platforms [SOMs and SBCs]. Moreover, Inforce’s value added software and hardware design assistance services have complemented and accelerated product development in these cases.
Software and Product Updates
We’re close to having an upstream kernel Linux BSP release (Linaro 15.10 version) available for the Inforce 6410Plus SBC. Stay tuned for download instructions and release notes for the latest BSP. Once available, please log on to Inforce’s TechWeb and look for the product specific menu under the software tab.
For those that have been eagerly waiting for the Inforce 6601™ Micro SOM, we will be taking pre-orders soon. We thank you for your interest in the latest Inforce 6601 Micro SOM and your patience is much appreciated as we ramp up our manufacturing. In the next few weeks you’ll also be able to read about and download more technical details of the affordable and new Inforce 6301 Micro SOM powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor.
We’d love to hear your feedback about Inforce’s newsletters as well as your stories on building exciting embedded products based on Inforce’s compute platforms. We’re more than glad to share your success story in these columns, so don’t hesitate to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the editorial desk at Inforce Computing.
We’re excited to share some great news with you. Inforce Computing’s much anticipated, highest performing, and cross-compatible Micro SOM based on the latest Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820 embedded processor (APQ8096 SoC) is here! Coming close on the heels of Snapdragon 820 processor-based high-end smartphone announcements at the recent 2016 Mobile World Congress, designers can now leverage the same underlying cutting edge mobile technologies for implementing next-gen embedded systems. The Inforce 6601™ Micro SOM delivers a superior compute platform to enable advanced AR/VR based wearable, computer vision, 4K HEVC video encode/decode, medical imaging, video analytics, and high-end IoT applications, to name a few. Designers can also seamlessly upgrade from legacy Inforce 6401™ and Inforce 6501™ Micro SOM based designs. You can download a datasheet of the Inforce 6601 Micro SOM here and read an informative FAQ here >>>.
TableConnect®, powered by the Inforce 6540™ SBC, is the latest multi-touch connected “table device” that provides access to millions of applications available on Android based phones and tablets, but now on a much bigger screen. So, what’s unique about the sleek plug and play device you may ask, and what are some of the use cases? For starters, the product has a super robust touch surface made out of 4mm safety glass, a projective capacitive touch sensor underneath, and an industrial HD display. Secondly, there is no specialized software to be developed or the need to learn anything new for end-users—just utilize the Android apps already available in the Google Play store. The TableConnect interactive display simply resembles your Android smartphone screen; only that it’s about 100 X larger, making it easier for a target audience to find the right information with a few taps and swipes from their fingertips. Just think of the many different places businesses could use the stylish system—it could be an interactive customer-facing information kiosk at corporate headquarters (portrait, landscape, and table-top modes) or a retail outlet, a collaboration platform in conference rooms, at events and trade shows, or perhaps as an exotic at-home coffee table with an interactive screen that brings together people to hang out and play games.
The developer community worldwide for Android apps is legion. Now, those same apps can be optimized to take advantage of a much larger screen to reach out to new customers. The TableConnect device unlocks a huge potential for newer digital signage and interactive display use cases both in the home and at businesses. When the core technology can be integrated into any kind of structure in the future, the possibilities become endless.
So, what’s really under the hood?
It was fascinating to hear from Johann Rath, TableConnect’s CEO that his smart engineers were able to quickly put together an ingenious system, thanks to the high-end processing capability and versatile connectivity of the Inforce 6540™ Single Board Computer (SBC). His team initially tried to prototype the product with a previous generation Cortex-A9 based SBC that didn’t quite have the chops or deliver the flexibility with customizing the Android OS. Once the TableConnect’s engineers gave the Inforce 6540 SBC a try, there was no turning back. The Inforce 6540 SBC is driven by Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 805, one of the most powerful mobile processors that can be found in several high-end smartphones. TableConnect engineers were able to easily add new functions and adapt a few things to the open-source Android kernel provided along with the board support package (BSP) from Inforce.
Full flexibility in customizing Android OS and applications that run on the Inforce 6540 SBC
TableConnect added several new functions to the Android platform running on the Inforce 6540: Google Play Store and the ability to install 1 million apps; an HID-based interface to communicate with external smart buttons for functions such as Home, Back or orientation change; an internal and external watchdog; an interface to control external displays and active cooling systems, and the ability to change the screen orientation for HDMI devices.
The Inforce 6540 SBC drives multiple peripherals on the TableConnect, including 55- and 32-inch full HD displays, projective capacitive touch sensors with a fast response time of 5ms, 100 multi-touch points (though Android limits it to 10), and integrated stereo speakers. The Inforce 6540 SBC also provides excellent connectivity via BT4.1, dual-channel/dual-stream WiFi, and GbE. Location based apps can also be enabled by the onboard GPS/GNSS capability. The 6-DoF motion sensors (Accel, Gyro) on the SBC add to developing unique applications. TableConnect engineers are quite impressed with the performance of the Inforce 6450 SBC, which is available with the Android Lollipop (5.0.2) release and support for a 13MP Sony camera adapter card (ACC-1H30). With its native ability to capture and display 4K Ultra HD video (H.265 hardware-assisted decodes), future possibilities with the TableConnect are enormous. Here’re a couple of videos that demo the product:
Last week’s panel discussion at the Churchill Club titled “Civilian Drones: The Opportunity Takes Flight” touched varied topics from open source autopilot designs (such as the Pixhawk PX4) that have democratized access to technologies, to auto-navigation and collision avoidance, increasing battery life and payload weight, FAA regulations, and everything in between. The past year has indeed seen frenzied activity in the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) or drone space. Several use cases have taken shape, but how many of them are going to be commercially viable and sustainable in the long run? Businesses and large corporations are actively looking to use drones to monitor their assets, infrastructure, and operations. Start-ups in this space are trying to carve a niche by differentiating with unique underlying technologies such as collision avoidance and auto-navigation, which seek to unlock the potential for new use-cases. New services that offer businesses and corporate entities instant access to professional “drone pilots” with their fleet of UAVs for hire, provide imagery and data collection for a fee. Here are a few quick takeaways from the discussions. Continue reading Commercial Drones: Where’re the Viable Use-cases and Core Technologies to Differentiate in a Crowded Marketplace?→
Have you wondered what would it take to implement a modern embedded system design with a system-on-module (SOM) as opposed to building your entire system from scratch? What are some of the clear advantages to designing with a SOM? Are you perennially stuck in the build-vs-buy argument on whether or not to design the most time-consuming and complex compute portions of an embedded system in-house? What’s a carrier board and how to design a custom one that can be re-used by new SOMs that come down the line? Is your design going to be obsoleted because of a lack of a microprocessor roadmap from your semiconductor vendor and upward/cross-compatibility of your custom carrier boards? Are you missing your market windows and are looking for a solution that addresses time-to-market issues and cost escalations? Have you hit the limits of your current system’s compute power? Would you like to obtain access to high-performance and low-power state-of-the-art Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processors without the need to license them?
Inforce Computing offers a clear path to designing embedded systems with micro-SOMs
To find out answers to the above questions and kick-start your embedded design with the latest Inforce 6501 Micro SOM, please download a whitepaper on the subject here. Should you have further questions after reading it, please reach out to us.
Software Update for the Inforce 6540™ Single Board Computer and the Inforce 6501™ Micro SOM (powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 805/APQ8084 processor)
A full-featured Android Board Support Package (BSP) running Lollipop 5.0.2 on the Inforce 6540 SBC and the Inforce 6501 Micro SOM is available for download from Inforce Computing’s TechWeb for registered users. This is a significant enhancement in software support for Qualcomm Snapdragon processor-based embedded designs from Inforce Computing.
Software Platform Version The following software platforms are supported in this release:
We formally launched the much anticipated and brand new Inforce 6501™ Micro System-on-module (SOM) this week. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this is a watershed moment for all of us at Inforce. We strongly believe that the Inforce 6501 Micro SOM will enable the design of sophisticated embedded products with capabilities and tiny form factors unheard of before. Early adopters of the Inforce 6501 Micro SOM are working on some of the most coolest embedded products yet to come. The Inforce 6501 Micro SOM is powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 805 processor (APQ8084 SoC), the latest shipping mobile platform technology available for embedded designs. So, to share my excitement about the new micro SOM, I’d like to list a few stand-out features:
The Inforce 6501 Micro SOM is the world’s tiniest module based on the Snapdragon 805 processor. With a form factor of just 28mm X 50mm (and a low profile of only 6mm with the connectors), and a weight of under 0.3 oz. (8 g), this is as miniature in size as it gets. Now think of the end-use applications that are space constrained, yet scream for bleeding edge compute horsepower and are battery powered.
Inforce has solved the complexity of designing and manufacturing a Micro SOM of this tiny proportion. The state-of-the-art design comes standard with 2GB POP LPDDR3 RAM and 4GB eMMC memory. It is also ROHS and WEE compliant.
Imagine what you can do with the quad-core ARM®v7 compliant 2.7GHz Krait™ CPU, the Adreno™ 420 GPU (4.8 GP/s processing and support for OpenGL ES3.1, OpenCL 1.2 full profile, etc.), Hexagon™ DSP v50 @600MHz, and dual image signal processors @1.2GP/s throughput.
Connect multiple hi-rez cameras (via MIPI-CSI up to 3 / 55MP) and concurrent displays (up to 2x MIPI-DSI + 1x HDMI)
Decode (H.265) and encode (H.264) 4K Ultra HD video
On-board dual-band WiFi + BT + GPS for all the connectivity you want (GbE is enabled on the carrier card)
With the most difficult part of an embedded design (the compute module) taken out of the equation, designers now can focus on their core-competencies, rapidly prototype, and get their product to market faster.
Two 100-pin connectors enable designers access a comprehensive set of I/Os from the Snapdragon 805 processor. To jumpstart your design, you may purchase the Inforce 6501 Development Kit, which includes the Micro-SOM, a sensor board, a carrier card, and a starter kit.
Full featured Android KitKat 4.4 BSP and device driver support. Linaro Ubuntu Linux BSP is in the works and will be available in May this year.
If you are designing the next great head-mounted display for an industrial hands-free computing application that requires support for multiple cameras, displays, and excellent image signal processors, the Inforce 6501 Micro SOM could be a great fit.
Thanks to robust PCIe support, one is able to do more with the Inforce 6501 Micro SOM. With its 4K HD video capabilities, next-generation videoconferencing products with multiple HDMI inputs and outputs will be well differentiated and more competitive in the marketplace.
Similarly, advances in Ultrasound, Arthroscopic, and Endoscopic medical imaging are possible, thanks to the high-end video and graphics capabilities of the Inforce 6501 Micro SOM. The miniaturization of the compute module will help designers integrate the latest mobile applications processors into connected portable medical imaging instruments, improving image resolution significantly and enabling faster time to results.
This is an ideal form factor many embedded designers have been looking for—you may fit the Inforce 6501 Micro SOM into your system and not worry about the CPU/GPU/DSP intensive algorithms that can run on it. It’s not a trade-off between compute power and size—with the Inforce 6501 Micro SOM, you get the best of the both worlds. In addition, with excellent access to I/Os from the Snapdragon 805 processor, there’s great flexibility in custom designing carrier boards to suit specific peripheral device needs. If you are designing the next industrial drone/UAV with autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance, check out the Inforce 6501 Micro SOM.
Typically designing the compute module is the most complex and time consuming part of building an embedded system—leave that to the readily available Inforce 6501 Micro SOM. The Inforce 6501 Micro SOM will save several months of design time, accelerate your time-to-market, and reduce overall design costs.