05 Mar 2018

Embedded World 2018: what happened

Caroline Hayes reviews Embedded World held in Nuremburg to see the technology, trends and news from the show

There is always exasperation at trade exhibitions, or any large gatherings, as visitors compete for a share of the available wireless bandwidth to use computers and phones. The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS has developed digitally tunable RF filters designed for data transfer even where there is interference.

Embedded World 2018 entrance

The RF filters address the main challenges of communication systems today, that of the lack of availability of frequencies, and interference from co-existence. At Embedded World, the institute presented the filters which can be used in wireless technology arenas, such as satellite communication, public safety and mobile communications.

In these applications, devices are expected to send and receive data and function reliably, but the reality is that coexistence and interference issues are increasing, placing constraints on the network and raising problems in data transfer.

The institute’s digitally tunable RF frequency bandpass filters make it possible to select the required frequency spectrum while simultaneously rejecting out-of-band signals.

Fraunhofer Institute tunable RF filters at Embedded world 2018

Fraunhofer Institute tunable RF filters

They can be adjusted digitally and there is also the option of reconfiguring filters during operation for dynamic access to a variety of frequencies without experiencing delays. According to the institute, this provides a quick and easy way of making country- and application-specific adjustments.

Another advantage is that the filters are supplied in a solderable, 14 x 15mm package, saving space when compared to conventional filter banks of multiple filters.

Image processing

A consumer bent was provided by Varjo and Socionext who introduced the idea of a ‘bio display’ for high resolution virtual reality / mixed reality (VR / XR) headset, using Socionext’s Milbeaut image signal processing. The Finnish company, Varjo, demonstrated a headset based on its patented human-eye resolution technology, the first in the market. Varjo founder and CEO, Urho Konttori, explained that it mirrors the way humans view the world. “Humans look at one area in detail at a time, moving their eyes to make sense of the image and to ‘feel’ full resolution,” he said.

Socionext image processing at Embedded World 2018

Socionext image processing

Using video-see-through (VST) technology and two displays, one contextual, the second for focus, the company has created a headset that is claimed to have 100% higher resolution than existing VR/XR headsets, and which captures human resolution.

The headset can be used in industrial design, training and simulation, in architecture and engineering projects and immersive entertainment

It can visualise images at 70Mpixel with a 100° field-of-view, far beyond what is supported by current first-generation VR headsets, says Konttori. The human eye sees full resolution images at 2° in the centre field of vision, and the eye movement and brain compile the rest of the image and put it in context. “We would not have been able to do this without Socionext,” he continued. Its Milbeaut image signal processor technology uses image pipelines and fast processing speeds to deliver the necessary high imaging resolution, at low power consumption.

The high resolution image allows customers, which include VW, Audi, BMW, Airbus, Saab, Cern, Trimble, 20th Century Fox and Magnopus, to see the nuances of a design, explained Konttori, and use VR/XR to experiment with design changes and see immediate effects, saving days if not weeks of development time and also saving costs.

Automation

If you want to catch the eye of passers-by, a moving wine bottle usually does the trick! Logicals used a robotic arm serving a glass of wine to demonstrate its logi.CAD 3 engineering software. The company says that features have been included to increase efficiency, recognise errors and inconsistencies early and to avoid them in the process.

Logicals robotic arm at Embedded World 2018

Logicals robotic arm

It is based on simple C code integration and has functional security via test manager and static code analysis. It supports Linux and Procon-Web Designer and SpiderControl Editor for visualisation. Used with logi.RTS, the company’s runtime system converts any PC (or microcontroller with logi.µRTS) into an automation system.

The company says that the engineering tool can be used in a variety of industries, from buses to hydroelectric power plants, from microcontrollers to industrial PC networks, although the robotic hospitality example was certainly effective.

IoT edge computing

A new launch and a preview guaranteed interest for Digi International. The company was highlighting its recent XBee3 series of smart edge IoT modules and modems. It was also previewing the ConnectCore 8X system on modules (SoMs) and single board computers (SBCs).

The Digi XBee3 RF modules provide MicroPython programmability and dual-mode radios, and can be upgraded, via software, to Bluetooth Low Energy. At 13.0 x 13.0mm, they are one third the size of the original XBee RF module, making them one of the smallest MicroPython programmable modules offering RF connectivity for short range and LPWAN applications, says the company. They are offered as through-hole and surface mount modules, for intelligence at the network edge, with the ability to switch protocols without changing the device.

Digi XBee3 RF module at Embedded world 2018

Digi XBee3 RF module

As an early access partner for NXP, the company also previewed ConnectCore 8X SoMs and SBCs. They are based on the patent-pending Digi SMTplus form factor, and the NXP i.MX 8X processor family based on the Arm Cortex-A35 and Cortex-M4F cores. The SoMs and SBCs provide 802.11ac + Bluetooth Smart connectivity, graphics, video, image processing, audio/voice capabilities and have Digi TrustFence security for protection in medical, healthcare, transportation, building automation, advanced human machine interface(HMI), and industrial IoT applications. A development board is scheduled for release in Q3 2018.

More microcontrollers

More introductions could be found at the Microchip stand, with two microcontrollers to expand its PIC and megaAVR families. The PIC16F18446 microcontroller is designed for use in sensor nodes. It has an integrated analogue to digital converter with computation (ADC2) and operates from 1.8 to 5.0V. The ADC2 can wake the core only when needed to lower the power consumption, which is especially useful in battery powered applications. It also enables sensor nodes to run on small batteries, to reduce end-user maintenance costs and the final design footprint.

The second microcontroller joins the megaAVR family. The ATmega4809 has an integrated ADC, which increases the speed of analogue signal conversion, which in turn results in resulting in deterministic system responses, says the company. This microcontroller is the first in the family to include Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs) to execute tasks in hardware to relieve software tasks.

The PIC16F18446 microcontrollers are compatible with MPLAB PICkit 4 (PG164140) for programming and debugging. There is also the Curiosity development board (DM164137). Both development tools are supported by the MPLAB X integrated development environment (IDE) and the cloud-based MPLAB Xpress IDE.

Rapid prototyping with the ATmega4809 is supported by the ATmega4809 Xplained Pro (ATmega4809-XPRO) evaluation kit.

The Embedded World Awards were announced during the event, and Antenova was announced the winner in the hardware category for its Robusta, low profile, GNSS antenna which tracks metal objects and which is designed for smart city applications.

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About the author

Caroline Hayes has been a journalist , covering the electronics sector for over 20 years. She has worked on many titles, most recently the pan-European EPN. As editor of EPD, she created the e-Legacy Awards and also created EPN’s 40th Anniversary Forum at electronica. Now a freelance journalist, reporting news, writing features and conducting interviews/profiles for many top-line electronics journals, she also writes technical material for marketing departments and PR agencies.

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