Embedded Android: No longer a square peg fit in a round hole?
When Google first made its Android platform available for developers in 2007, for a number of reasons I did not expect it to have much of a future in embedded designs, where it was a square peg everyone was trying to jam it into a round hole:
* It was built around Google's own Linux distribution targeted mobile phones, not embedded systems;
* It was a Linux distribution that at the time was even more bloated than the core Linux architecture;
* It was not particularly real-time or deterministic in performance; and
* Because it was designed using Java to make it easy to use by non-programmers, it was not easy for embedded programmers to use their experience with C and C++ to develop code for highly resource- and performance-constrained embedded designs.
That has all changed. As illustrated in some of the articles and papers in this week's Tech Focus Newsletter on "Using Android in your embedded designs," Android is being used in virtually every serious embedded venue: medical, automotive, building automation and home networking, and in real-time, deterministic apps in things as industrial control.
If you are not using Android in your embedded designs, It might be wise to upgrade your education in this surprisingly versatile platform beyond visiting Embedded.com for the regular Android coverage we give to the platform. However, for the latest information n tools and techniques be sure to register to attend ESC/EE Live, March 31 to April 4 in San Jose, Ca.
There you can take advantage of the Android Engineering Certificate Program. This is a two-day, hands-on series of classes and discussions aimed at teaching you about Android from an embedded perspective. The bonus for signing up is that you'll receive IEEE Credit for attending
You'll learn how to use Android as the operating system for embedded systems that are not cell phones, as well as how to control embedded systems via off-the-shelf Android devices—all illuminated by hands-on exercises with a Nexus 7 tablet and an accessory kit which are yours to keep, a $350 value. SparkFun Electronics will partner with the Android Engineering Certificate program in providing the accessory kit.
Classes are taught by experienced embedded - and Android – programmers Bill Gatliff and Ryan Kuester and by Michael Anderson, chief scientist at the PTR Group. Topics include:
Mission critical Android? No, but close.
Running Android atop a proper embedded Linux
Fundamentals of Embedded Android
Debugging techniques for embedded Android and Linux
Partitioning Your Solution Properly Between Android, Linux, and the World
Embedded Devices as Android Accessories.
Several articles and papers on Embedded.com that I can recommend for you to read as preparation for topics to be explored at ESC/EELive include:
Performance of Android using native C in embedded systems
Embedding C++ Code in Android Java Applications
Real-Time Android: Achieving determinism and ease of use
A Real-time Extension to the Android Platform
As someone who when possible attended some of the certificated programming classes, I can highly recommend them as practical and specific, mixing the theoretical with hands on experience.
For those of you who would like to contribute your insights and expertise in the form of blogs and design articles, whether on Android or other topics, I am always available to work with potential contributors who want to submit an article or just want have a conversation about your ideas, either by email or on the phone.
Embedded.com Site Editor Bernard Cole is also editor of the twice-a-week Embedded.com newsletters as well as a partner in the TechRite Associates editorial services consultancy. He welcomes your feedback. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 928-525-9087.