Despite most of the major chip companies pulling out of the biggest global annual trade fair for the embedded systems industry, the organizers of Embedded World in Nuremberg stood firm and opened the doors today, with what was a mix of both empty halls as well as busy booths.
Those who attended told us that while the show was relatively quiet, they had productive meetings and were able to spend more time with customers, prospects and partners who managed to make it to the trade fair. The attitude was summed up by Dipak Raval, head of sales for EMEA at Dialog Semiconductor, who told us that several customers had already confirmed meetings, so they took the decision to go ahead as they wouldn’t want to let them down by cancelling at the last minute.
Admittedly, the pace of the show was relaxed compared to any other Embedded World fair in the past. We certainly saw that executives were not rushing to get to their next meeting and gave us the time we needed to understand them better. But it was definitely a show where smaller and mid-sized companies were able to make the most of what could have been a written off marketing expense. Companies were cancelling until the last minute. I was told that dSPACE were there in the morning getting ready but all of a sudden decided to cancel and left an empty booth with a message on screen.
dSPACE cancelled at the last minute (Image: EE Times Europe)
Getting down to business, what stood out? Well, clearly embedded artificial intelligence (AI) seemed to be getting more widespread, and as always IoT, sensors, embedded software, boards and modules feature highly at mbedded world, as did security.
On the AI front for example, Cartesiam launched NanoEdge AI Studio, an integrated development environment for developers to create AI training and inference applications on microcontrollers without any data science knowledge, in a matter of hours.
Over on the Lattice Semiconductor stand, Sujeet Joseph, chief product officer of Bangalore, India, based ignitarium demonstrated how the company has created a visual deep learning-based defect detection platform for the factory floor, running on an FPGA. He said the 200-strong company already has companies like Ericsson among its customers.
To address the high-performance computing aspects of enabling AI, Nils Kucza, a researcher at Bielefeld University (UNIBI) showed some of the work that the European Union Horizon 2020 funded LEGaTo project is carrying out to develop a low energy toolset for heterogenous computing.
One of the demos he showed was its work in looking how this might power a smart mirror, using an AI interface whose underlying technology is a modular, energy-optimized processing platform that allows for facial recognition and speech recognition to work efficiently while using as little energy as possible. This ultimately translates to energy savings in smart homes and smart cities applications.
Meanwhile, Lynx Software Technologies, disclosed significant adoption of its LYNX MOSA.ic software framework for the development and integration of complex multi-core safety or security systems. Ian Ferguson, the company’s vice president of marketing and strategic alliances, told us, “Within a year of launch, we announced the first major program adoption of LYNX MOSA.ic, with the Joint Strike Fighter, and will be announcing further adoptions in the aerospace and defense sector as those engagements mature. We see strong interest across markets with a number of customers focused on harnessing LYNX MOSA.ic for specific automotive and industrial as well as aerospace applications.” According to VDC, the market opportunity for embedded software in safety-critical applications is expected to grow at 8% CAGR over the next five years, reaching $2.6B by 2023. It said with many suppliers focused on the security of these systems, Lynx appears to be one of the few worrying about high reliability of platforms over 10+ year product lifecycles.
Security is a topic that we often hear is not taken seriously until a hack happens. Haydn Povey, CEO and founder of Secure Thingz, told us, “Very few people understand security, and even fewer understand the concept of secure keys and how they can be leveraged through a device.” The company’s answer to that is the launch of its Secure Desktop Provisioner product which extends the normal development environment to encompass the generation, storage and provisioning of keys and other secrets for security aware devices. Provisioning provides unique characteristics to every device being produced, whether at the chip, board or system level. This enables every programmed device to be identified and acted upon, whether this is to provide authentication, or to enable updates to be targeted to a single device, or a group. The Secure Desktop Provisioner brings this security capability to the desk of embedded developers, ensuring that keys and certificates can be defined easily and subsequently securely provisioned into devices.
On the sensors front, Schekeb Fateh, business development manager at Zurich-based Miromico, showed what it said is the world’s smallest LoRaWAN module. Measuring 8.6mm x 9.3mm, the module is based on the MAX32625/26 Arm Cortex-M4 microcontroller from Maxim Integrated Products. It can be placed in high-density urban or long-range rural environments and connect a large variety of sensors to LoRaWAN.