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PAC on Board for Historic Piloted Return to Depths of the Mariana Trench
Industrial controls manufacturer Opto 22 played a central role in the reliable operation of filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence James Cameron’s technologically advanced prototype submersible Deepsea Challenger. Cameron recently piloted the submersible in a successful descent of almost 7 miles (11 km) to the “Challenger Deep,” the deepest point in the world’s oceans. Cameron’s descent was part of the Deepsea Challenge expedition, a joint scientific expedition by James Cameron, National Geographic and Rolex to conduct deep-ocean research and exploration to learn more about the biology and geology of the deepest point on Earth.
Aboard the Deepsea Challenger, Opto 22’s SNAP programmable automation control (PAC) System acts as a central controller that manages more than 180 interconnected onboard systems, including sensors, batteries, thrusters, life support, lighting and 3D cameras. The SNAP PAC System additionally records depth, temperature, pressure, battery status and other vital data from the submersible, periodically transmitting the information to a support vessel on the surface. Precise data was essential for control and telemetry, and Project Manager David Wotherspoon with submersible builder Acheron Project Pty. Ltd. thought the Opto 22 system met this requirement well. “I was supremely confident the data being processed and released through the Opto 22 SNAP PAC System was accurate,” Wotherspoon said, “and that it provided a stable control platform.”
The SNAP PAC System’s core ability to communicate with all onboard subsystems eliminated the need for signal converters and extra hardware, reducing complexity and increasing reliability. Since most electronic systems and the submersible’s human pilot occupy a cramped 43-in. (109 cm) diameter pilot sphere, these communications capabilities—as well as the compact size of SNAP PAC System components—saved much-needed space.
Cameron’s solo dive to the greatest depths of the ocean was backed by a team of engineers, scientists, educators and journalists. Opto 22 provided an on-site technical liaison, Application Engineer Benjamin Orchard, who worked with submersible builder Acheron Project Pty. Ltd. in Sydney, Australia—and later aboard the Mermaid Sapphire support vessel—to integrate the SNAP PAC System into the Deepsea Challenger. In addition, a team of programmers and electrical engineers at Opto 22 headquarters in Temecula, CA, helped with custom programming, system design and troubleshooting.
Hypervisor Vendor Promoted to Windows Embedded GOLD Partner
Real-Time Systems GmbH, a vendor of embedded Hypervisor technology for x86, has announced that they have been awarded with Gold Status in the Microsoft Windows Embedded Partner Program. The company’s flagship product is the RTS Real-Time Hypervisor, a software product that allows customers to partition an Intel x86 multicore platform into virtually independent computers running, for example, a Microsoft operating system as a user interface and separate real-time operating systems in parallel for real-time tasks on the same hardware. Consolidating hardware greatly reduces cost while increasing reliability and reducing power consumption. The hypervisor solution is particularly useful for products in the industrial, medical or transportation markets where many customers rely on a Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) for time- or mission-critical functions while using a different operating system (OS) for other tasks, such as running a human machine interface (HMI). Because the RTS solution does not depend on a host OS, operating systems can start in any sequence, reboot independently and never harm each other.
Real-Time Systems has been a long time member of the Windows Embedded Program as an Independent Software Vendor as well as a System Integrator. “After four years as a Silver Partner, we are very honored that Microsoft now awarded our expertise and success in the market by promoting us to Gold Level” said Gerd Lammers, CEO and President of Real-Time Systems GmbH. “A large percentage of our customers worldwide use Microsoft Windows embedded operating systems and we firmly believe that only through our close relationship with Microsoft and other partners were we able to make our Real-Time Hypervisor as successful as it is.”
Pervasive Displays and Energy Micro Team to Create Low Power Electronic Paper Solutions
Pervasive Displays, a designer and manufacturer of electronic paper modules for commercial and industrial display applications, has announced its alliance with Energy Micro, a global provider of energy friendly microcontrollers based on the ARM Cortex processor. Combining PDi’s low power electronic paper display modules with Energy Micro’s ability to create low power microcontrollers, this alliance enables Energy Micro solutions developers to quickly and cost-effectively develop and prototype a wide range of low energy electronic paper solutions to display dynamic content.
The first release from the alliance is the EPD SK-2 daughter board for the EFM 32 Gecko developer kit. To enable easy, fast demonstrations of electronic paper solutions, Retronix created the EPD SK-2 for Energy Micro developers and bundled it with the EFM 32 Gecko developer kit. The 32-bit EFM 32 Gecko microcontroller family has ultra-low energy consumption, a modern and powerful ARM Cortex-M3 CPU and a vast array of tools like real time, accurate energy and power profiling.
The alliance between PDi and Energy Micro enables developers to quickly integrate EPDs into products and applications, creating enhanced benefits and return-on-investment potential unique to PDi’s electronic paper solutions intended for applications where low energy consumption and showing dynamic content are critical. These require ultra-low power consumption for a dot-matrix digital display, capable of years of operation from a coin battery or energy harvesting-based technology. Paper-like dot-matrix displays offer a very high grade of readability and viewing angle, even in direct sunlight and high ambient light
Collaboration Yields Secure Platform for Sensitive Cloud Deployments
Three companies, LynuxWorks, TransLattice and Fritz Technologies, have announced a collaboration of their technologies and expertise to provide a new platform for building cloud deployments in sensitive environments. The resulting Secure, Enterprise, Cross-Domain, Unified, Resilient Environment (SECURE) platform solution creates a suitable environment for situations requiring secure hosting of applications, geographic redundancy of applications and data, and secure cross-domain transfer of information.
A first-generation secure server-based separation kernel (SepKer) solution was delivered by Fritz Technologies, working with the LynxSecure 4.0 separation kernel from LynuxWorks. Fritz Technologies successfully demonstrated that SepKer technology can incorporate trusted boot via the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and enhanced administrative tooling required to support the hosting of multiple domains and application missions whether in a data center, shipboard, airborne or terrestrial deployment.
To add resiliency and efficiency to the already significant benefits provided by SepKer virtualization, LynuxWorks and Fritz worked with TransLattice to incorporate their state-of-the-art “lattice” application and data distribution solution into the SepKer platform. The TransLattice technology, TransLattice Application Platform (TAP), fully distributes both the application and its data across multiple virtual machines (VMs) and system platforms within a secure domain, ensuring non-stop operations, even in the case of the loss of one or more components of the computing “lattice.” This means that mission-critical applications and data are fully distributed and the loss of an individual system (node) or multiple nodes does not endanger the continued efficient operation of the application.
Global M2M Subscriber Base Now Exceeds 100 Million
According to new a research report from the analyst firm Berg Insight, the global number of mobile network connections used for wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) communication increased by 37 percent in 2011 to reach 108.0 million. Asia-Pacific was the strongest regional market, recording a year-on-year growth rate of 64 percent and reached 34.5 million connections at the year-end. Europe and North America grew by around 27 percent each to 32.3 million and 29.3 million connections respectively. In the next five years, the global number of wireless M2M connections is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.2 percent to reach 359.3 million in 2016.
“2011 was the year when M2M communication really took off in China. The number of wireless M2M subscribers in the country nearly doubled and is now estimated to exceed 20 million,” said Tobias Ryberg, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight.” We believe that China Mobile became the world’s largest M2M connectivity provider at the end of 2011 with around 14 million subscribers. If the trend continues, the Chinese market will surpass the U.S. in absolute terms within two to three years.”
Berg Insight expects that 2012 will be another positive year for the wireless M2M industry. A renewed interest in telematics technology from the global automotive industry has already had a positive effect on demand and promises to generate very significant additional volumes over the coming. Overall, the enterprise M2M market will benefit from increasingly advanced service enablement platforms that facilitate the integration of enterprise applications and networked remote devices.
Kyocera Acquires LCD Manufacturer Optrex to Create Kyocera Display
Kyocera has acquired LCD manufacturer Optrex Corporation, to form Kyocera Display Corporation. The Kyocera Group includes over 200 companies worldwide that manufacture a wide range of products including industrial ceramic materials, semiconductor components, automotive components, communications equipment and liquid crystal displays (LCDs).
With the acquisition of Optrex and formation of Kyocera Display Corporation, Kyocera will expand its LCD product offerings and manufacturing capabilities for automotive and industrial applications. Kyocera offers a wide range of active matrix TFT LCD panels in sizes from 3.5 to 12.1 inches diagonal and resolutions from QVGA to SVGA. Optrex, founded in 1976, has been focused on small and medium size LCDs in the automotive and industrial market sectors, offering a range of active matrix TFT and monochrome graphic and character LCDs. Kyocera’s Gen 3 TFT LCD fabrication facility produces state-of-the-art polysilicon and amorphous silicon panels. Kyocera Display Corporation will complement their high-volume front-end array production capability with Optrex’s back-end modularization capabilities. The acquisition of Optrex will also enable Kyocera to complement its range of resistive and capacitive type touch screen panels with Optrex’s touch screen bonding capabilities.
Zytronic and Omnivision Cooperate on Multi-Touch User Interface with PCT Sensing Mechanism
Public use touch sensor specialist Zytronic has taken steps to further the uptake of its Projected Capacitive Technology (PCT) touch sensor portfolio, with news of its collaboration with software supplier Omnivision. As a result, the Omnitapps platform from Omnivision is now fully compatible with Zytronic’s dual touch capable range of PCT touch sensors.
Working in conjunction with Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system, Omnitapps is a customizable application software package that has the capacity to support multi-touch operation on large form factor displays. It consists of an array of different professional applications that, when combined with Zytronic’s robust touch sensors and high-performance ZXY100 touch controllers, make it highly suited to user interface implementations in a variety of different sectors.
Zytronic’s PCT-based touch sensors employ a proprietary sensing technology that sets them apart from conventional touchscreen solutions. It consists of a matrix of micro-fine capacitive elements embedded within a laminated substrate, which can be located behind a protective overlay (more than 10 cm thick).Touchscreens based on this proven technology are resistant to the various forms of mechanical damage that can potentially shorten the lifespan of resistive or surface capacitive touch solutions—such as vibration, heavy impacts, scratches, build up of dirt, extreme temperatures, exposure to potent chemicals, high humidity levels, or liquid ingress. These sensors are highly optimized for a wide variety of heavy use applications in industrial and public environments, where they can expect to be constantly “in the firing line” from various forms of accidental and deliberate damage. Furthermore, unlike infrared (IR) and surface acoustic wave (SAW) touch sensor options, PCT can enable all glass, bezel-free designs resulting in smooth-fronted attractive user interfaces that are both stylish and practical to use.