The pace of technology development, innovation, and business adoption since 2010 has been stunning. Consider that the world’s stock of data is now doubling every 20 months; the number of Internet-connected devices has reached 12 billion; and payments by mobile phone are hurtling towards the $1 trillion mark.
Or at least that’s what a new estimate from innovation guru Michael Mandel says. He figures (pdf) that the “internet of things”—the increasing number of machines equipped with internet-connected sensors—will expand the US economy by $600 billion and $1.4 trillion in 2025, roughly the equivalent of boosting GDP by 2% to 5% over the intervening time period. That could be the difference between so-so growth to the kind of stable growth that drives down debt and unemployment. Source: http://qz.com/124346/the-internet-of-things-will-save-the-us-from-the-great-stagnation/
What was the Internet of Things in 2010 has morphed into the Internet of All Things. This technology involves using sensors and actuators to track and manage machinery and other physical assets across a network. The earliest approach in this trend, using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, was a highlight in 2007. That the Internet of Things continues to evolve should is no surprise; technology adoption can take a decade or more, depending on the complexity and the hurdles. Thanks to the mobile Internet and advances in sensors, I believe that Internet of Things adoption rates will soon accelerate. Also, they will revolutionize many sectors including transportation, critical infrastructures, manufacturing, healthcare and medical devices, aerospace and defense. Whether industrial automation, intelligent traffic management systems, facility management or security solutions, the crucial factor is the interplay of local intelligence, that is, Embedded Systems and based on it, Cyber-Physical Systems for efficient control, regulation and management processes.
Cyber-physical systems play a key role in accessing local information and providing a better view of the overall scheme. They evaluate this information and edit their mission statements based on autonomous tasks: control, regulation, monitoring, communication or signal processing. An essential basis for cyber-physical systems are embedded systems, i.e. systems in which hardware and
Software components are integrated into a comprehensive product and solutions.
A lot of the desired functionality that has already been integrated in mechanics or electrical mechanics is implemented applying embedded software technologies. These developments are driven by non-functional Requirements that are critical to our business, such as user friendliness, limited hardware resources, safety requirements or reliability is particularly important. Thus, what we know from hour PCs will barely work for the internet of things. This means, if there is something wrong with the system we won’t easily be able to configure and boot the system whenever we want to. The system must always be in a defined state and be able to perform its basic functions. Also, the real-time requirements in embedded applications do not necessarily allow a shut down as it is possible in many desktop applications. Not only reliability but safety plays an extremely important role, e.g. in the medical environments. Both in the sense of “safety” – the system pose no danger to life and limb – and in the sense of “security” – the protection of data against abuse and attacks from outside. That means that the biggest challenge with cyber-physical systems on the one hand, privacy is strictly respected and still sensitive data has to be collected and analyzed to provide personalized services and assistance.
For individual citizens, this opens up new possibilities to optimize their daily routine, taking into account their own and public transport and current traffic information, fees and costs on the basis of micropayment and pay-per-use concepts. You and me we will connected with new services e.g. for routine tasks such as decision support in purchasing, assigning permissions and identification to find the best possible advice. Prerequisite for such solutions are the empowerment of the individual through the support of its like-minded in a corresponding ecosystem. This principle requires large network-oriented structures with no specific allocation for each person. The development of a new generation of mobile devices based on embedded technologies is needed to meet our needs, e.g. in an aging society through disruptive innovations in human interface as well as high standards of service and comfort. For instance, a system developed at the Universities of Bristol and Reading will detect mini-strokes by noticing small changes in behavior or expression. It can be used to identify the early stages of heart disease, dementia, diabetes, depression and obesity, or to prevent falls in seniors. A key part of the project will be producing “passive sensors” embedded in clothing or jewelry. (Source: http://www.irc-sphere.ac.uk/ )
One interesting example of this outlined at the event came from Santiago Merea of The Orange Chef, whose product serves as a sort of smart cutting board, providing real-time information on ingredients, nutrition, portions, and meals. Merea prioritizes hardware development to be perfectly interchangeable with a traditional cutting board but distinguishes it by creating a cutting board as a platform for his software– not just a cutting board. Source: http://jessgroopman.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/mobile-monday-report-4-big-insights-on-connected-devices/
Java comes into play
Many attempts at using Java in the embedded space have been made, for instance, TINI Java Simms and the Javelin Stamp that I have heard about. However, Java has thus far failed to grab significant share in the embedded world due to large memory footprint and slower speed. With microcontrollers becoming more powerful and embedded more memory, we might be able to overcome this issue problem. Furthermore with the advent of the low cost Microprocessors such as the Raspberry Pi’s BCM2835 & Ti’s Sitara Cortex-A8s, one could easily use full blown Linux in their embedded projects.
Attractive key characteristics of Java for embedded systems are:
- Built in multithreading and synchronization
- Lack of pointer arithmetic
- Automatic memory management
The development of a multi-device platform requires a common language such as Java. Java is often used as an embedded programming system, which is a combination of hardware, software, mechanical and other technical components designed to perform a dedicated function, unlike a general purposes computer. Java provides the widest cross platform capability from the smallest microcontroller devices to high performing enterprise systems.
But getting there requires a proven platform of technologies, engineered to work together. Oracle delivers just that by way of Oracle’s Internet of Things Platform. This platform enables businesses to deploy a holistic IoT solution – from Java embedded on the smallest edge devices and gateways, all the way through to the applications in the data centre. Oracle Java Embedded Suite 7.0 bundles a Web server, Web services, and database technologies, along with an applications framework, into a standards-based solution optimized for embedded devices.
Special purpose JVM and Frameworks
- Sun’s PersonalJava
- Sun’s EmbeddedJava
- JIT – compiler
- JADE’s LEA
For instance, the Java ME technology was originally developed to meet the requirements for portable applications. To this end, Oracle has laid the foundations for the Java ME technology, which is a limited environment and enables the development of Java applications that run on devices with limited memory, display and power capacity.
At the device end, Java Embedded provides the platform that enables the intelligence on the IoT device. Java Embedded is a standardized layer; it can enable the rapid deployment of applications across a large range of devices and operating systems. Having said this, Java is well established and already running on 3bn devices worldwide. Hence, this creates a nurturing foundation for nearly any size of embedded system – such as patient monitoring devices, smart meters, sensors and edge gateways. It is moving a suite of features planned for its Java Standard Edition 8 into Java Micro Edition Embedded, and it plans to release both. An updated version of Java ME Embedded is now available as a binary runtime for the ARM11-based Raspberry Pi Model B and ST Microelectronics’ STM32F4. The ST Java solution takes full advantage of the STM32F429/39 LCD-TFT controller and Chrom-ART accelerator, and can be used with the evaluation boards and Discovery Kits for these devices. Source: www.st.com/stm32-java and www.stm32java.com.
I am always interested to learn more about recent developments and framework for embedded control systems, which supports modeling of such systems, design and validation of those mentioned. So, please feel free to comment on anything you liked in the article or anything you wish to hear about Java and embedded systems!