NI’s System-on-Module technology aims to reshape embedded technology market

by Subarna Talukder, TechOnline India - July 17, 2014

The company claims that the design to prototype stage for embedded design engineers will be shortened to 1/10th the time and cost compared to traditional methods

National Instruments (NI) has come up with a complete middleware solution for embedded technology across verticals. The System-on-Module (SOM) comes with an embedded OS software, graphical user interface and I/O programmability to help develop software engineer’s applications for their respective industries. NI claims that the platform-driven approach will help embedded engineers drastically cut down the time and cost required for developing embedded solutions. 

Launching its global product from India at the 8th annual ESC event in Bangalore today, Joel Shapiro, Leader, Strategic Marketing, Emerging markets, said, “NI SOM, combined with powerful LabVIEW libraries, enables engineers to transform their ideas into embedded products faster than any other tool available in the market.” He further said this SOM could not only be used for making smart devices in healthcare, aerospace, energy but also to bridge design, prototyping, and deployment with a single platform. 

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Joel Shapiro, Leader, Strategic Marketing, Emerging markets, NI speaking at the launch of NI's SOM at ESC India in Bangalore

The firm claims that the design to prototype stage for embedded design engineers will be shortened to 1/10th the time and cost compared to traditional methods. This makes it attractive for small design and engineering firms and startup firms, who cannot afford the high costs of traditional platforms. 

The platform comes with a built-in Xilinx Zynq All Programmable system on a chip (SoC) with supporting components such as memory on a small PCB and features a complete middleware solution and ready-to-go Linux-based real-time operating system (RTOS). 

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Commenting on the reason behind NI’s global launch of the product in India, Joel said, “There is a huge implication of this in India. We have worked closely with Chennai-based Healthcare Technology Innovation Centre (HTIC) in one of their pilot projects to help create a smart device to detect arterial stiffness.” 

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NI's SOM has been used by HTIC to develop ARTSENS, a device which can evaluate arterial stiffness

He explained that the product is of great significance in a market like India, as nearly 10% of the Indian population is affected by cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Early stage of stiffness in artery could help prevent many cardiovascular problems. The platform has been extensively tested by HTIC to develop ARTSENS, which can be used to detect and measure arterial stiffness among patients suffering from CVD. The centre at present is developing a hand-held version of ARTSENS.  

By integrating NI’s intelligent computing module, HTIC has developed this prototype device.  Dr. Jayaraj Joseph, Systems Architect, HTIC said, “ NI's graphical design tools have helped us to rapidly develop functional, field testable proof of concepts in healthcare space that involves a variety of stakeholders. NI SOM has now allowed HTIC to take these functional prototypes to mass deployable solutions.” 

SOM could be used to create smart manufacturing centers also. For instance, Airbus, the aircraft manufacturing company, has developed a smart device that helps it in raising the efficiency in manufacturing airplanes with NI’s SOM.  Shapiro said that Airbus has used this technology in cutting down the number of tools it puts in a typical aircraft. In a typical aircraft, Airbus required close to 1,100 tools for fixing screws with specific torque dimensions. With NI’s technology, this has now come down to just 330 tools. 

“We have evaluated several SOMs and embedded SBCs, and there is no comparison to the software integration offered by NI,” said Sebastien Boria, R&D mechatronics technology leader at Airbus. NI’s embedded Linus RTOS and LabVIEW FPGA have helped reduce the development cost by one-tenth for Airbus. 

Joel Shapiro said that currently NI is working with 10 industry verticals to develop smart objects of the future. NI believes that the SOM could be a game changer in the automation industry.  

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