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2011

Low cost cameras and video analytics technology are transforming digital signage from a passive display system into a smart data collection network where owners can track and optimize their return on investment and cost per impression. As I covered in part 1 of this intelligent signage series, the Intel® Audience Impression Metric Suite (Intel® AIM Suite) coupled with the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor architecture, provides the video analysis and face detection algorithms to allow network operators to dynamically modify content depending on the viewer’s demographics. Data from the suite can also be used to judge the display’s ability to attract a minimum number of viewers, hold the viewer’s attention, and to find the best physical location for the sign. In this post, I will take a look at compatible off-the-shelf hardware and software components that designers can use to get started developing smart digital signage.

 

Developers can get a head start on new signage projects targeting the Intel® AIM Suite with ready to run products such as the Digital Signage Evaluation Kit covered in part 1 or they can opt for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) modules based on the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor architecture. For example, Congatec offers the conga-BM67 COM-Express module with either the 2.1 GHz, 45W Intel® Core™ i7 processor or the 2.5 GHz, 35W Intel® Core™ i5 processor along with up to 8 GBytes of dual channel DDR3 memory (See figure 1). The processor graphics supports the Intel® Flexible Display Interface (FDI), which allows for two independent video channels on the VGA, LVDS, HDMI, DisplayPort or SDVO interfaces. The Intel® HD Graphics supports Intel® Clear Video HD Technology and DirectX Video Acceleration (DXVA) for accelerated video processing. Peripheral interfaces include six PCI Express lanes, eight USB 2.0 ports, four SATA with RAID support, one EIDE and a Gigabit Ethernet interface. Fan control, LPC bus for slow speed extensions, and Intel® High Definition Audio complete the feature set.

 

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The software required for an Intel® AIM Suite based project can take on many levels of complexity starting with a single screen with a few targeted displays up to a network of units in various locations with multiple advertising promotions. One of the most comprehensive software products comes from BroadSign International, offering digital signage Software as a Service (SaaS).  The BroadSign Suite, integrating their existing proof-of-play reporting system with the anonymous video analytics technology of the Intel® AIM Suite, consists of multiple components including an administrator, a player, two servers, and a sign creator (See figure 2). The software enables operators to target out-of-home audiences, sell network airtime, playback scheduled content on each screen, and account for campaign performance. Digital signage networks using the BroadSign and Intel® AIM Suites will offer advertisers not only proof-of-play reports but also audience numbers shown for every ad played. Tying together the two metrics makes it easier for advertisers to analyze campaign performance and allows adjusting the schedules and content based on the combined reports.

 

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The challenge for digital signage original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) is to develop and modify products quickly in response to a wide variety of customer demands and user environments. Designed for intelligent kiosk, digital signage, medical cart, and gaming applications, the MITX-CORE-820 motherboard from Emerson Network Power features the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor family and offers a flexible mix of features and expansion options.  The industrial grade Mini-ITX motherboard is based on an Intel® QM67 controller powered by an Intel® Core™ i7-2710QE or Core™ i5-2510E processor. The motherboard has sockets for up to 8 GB DDR3 memory plus one PCIe x16 and one PCIe Mini Card slot. The PCIe Mini Card slot supports PCIe, USB, and DisplayPort connectivity. The MITX-CORE-820 also provides two gigabit Ethernet ports, ten USB 2.0 ports, SATA 6Gb/s ports, 2 SATA 3Gb/s ports, and one RS232 port. Display outputs include HD audio interface, one VGA power connector, two DisplayPorts, one Embedded DisplayPort, and one LVDS Header. The motherboard supports Windows 7, Embedded Standard 7, XP Professional, and Fedora 12 operating systems. Emerson offers a free Digital Signage Gets Smart eBook download which includes a guide to technology architecture for digital signage based on Intel® embedded technology implemented by Emerson Network Power.

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The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture is ideal for intelligent digital signage applications and combines a variable number of CPU cores with an integrated graphics processor optimized for media plus dedicated fixed-function hardware for video processing. If you are starting a new intelligent digital signage project and you have questions, please share your concerns with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community.  You can also keep up with technical articles and product announcements at the Intel® Digital Signage Applications page and the Embedded Computing Design archives on smart digital signage.

 

To view other community content on Sensing and Analytics, see “Sensing and Analytics - Top Picks

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Warren Webb

OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance

 

Emerson Network Power is a Premier member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. Congatec is an Associate member and BroadSign is a General member of the Alliance.

During a short visit to the Cloud Expo conference in Santa Clara last week, I had conversations with both hardware and software companies about challenges associated with data center networking equipment.

 

A couple of Network Equipment Providers (NEPs) talked about the need to quickly bring-to-market low-cost appliances optimized for use in virtualized environments. More than just top-of-rack switches, these appliances need to perform a range of networking functions (switching, routing, load balancing, firewall etc). At the same time, they need to be managed remotely (via any one of a large number of data center configuration software packages) and incorporate the flexibility to dynamically reallocate processor resources between networking functions as well as between the control and data planes. Under ever-increasing cost pressure from data center operators, these NEPs need a flexible networking stack that maximizes the performance of their hardware platform while giving them the flexibility to select whichever processor architecture best matches their target price points.

 

While that represents a traditional application for 6WIND’s packet processing software, discussions with suppliers of data center hardware and software highlighted other related challenges. There’s a clear trend to deliver advanced packet processing functions (such as virtual routing, security, QoS etc) using dedicated packet processing blades based on commodity hardware platforms, rather than using high-priced networking equipment. These functions need to be provided in a fully-virtualized environment and must offer a high degree of scalability.

 

There’s clearly a wide range of networking challenges within the data center. What do you see as the most critical issues that need to be solved to ensure that end users enjoy the most cost-effective experience as they migrate their applications either to public or private clouds?

Are you interested in developing M2M equipment but frustrated by the complexity of these applications? If so, I invite you to join me as I discuss a new M2M kit with Intel, Kontron, and Eurotech this Thursday, Nov 17 at 8:00 AM PST. (Here’s the registration link.) We will show how this kit simplifies development and speeds time to market by integrating hardware, middleware, and services.

 

Attendees will learn:

  • About new opportunities in M2M
  • How the M2M kit leverages industry standards
  • How to deploy an application with minimal programming
  • How to leverage cloud computing

 

Our lineup of speakers includes:

  • Shawn Holiday, M2M Solutions Director, ISG, Connected Devices, Intel® Corporation
  • Kevin Rhodes, VP, Embedded Products, Kontron
  • Arlen Nipper, President and CTO, Eurotech

 

I look forward to seeing you there!

 

connectivity.pngFor more on extending the Internet to embedded devices, see intel.com/go/embedded-connectivity

 

Kontron is a Premier member of the Intel® Embedded Alliance. Eurotech is an Associate member of the Alliance.

 

 

Kenton Williston

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Embedded Alliance

Editor-In-Chief, Embedded Innovator magazine

Follow me on Twitter: @kentonwilliston

 

As digital signage becomes commonplace in the retail and public information venues, developers are looking for new techniques to capture the viewer’s attention and optimize the messages presented. Retail users have already adopted various dynamic presentation concepts to modify sign content based on real-time data such as current events, the time of day, or changes in the weather. Now, with the right sensors and the Intel® Audience Impression Metric Suite (Intel® AIM Suite), digital signage networks can modify their content and judge its effectiveness by measuring how much time the targeted audience spends looking at the display. With this technology developers can find the best location for the sign and customize content by collecting audience data such as number and length of impressions plus age and gender demographics.

 

The technology behind the Intel® AIM Suite includes an embedded camera sensor and Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA) software powered a 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor architecture. The AVA software analyzes the data stream from the camera and compares pixel patterns to a predefined database to determine when an object in front of the sign is a human face looking in the right direction. Unlike facial recognition software, AVA does not match a particular face to a face in a database to insure that there are no privacy issues. Basically, the program looks for patterns such as dark pixels where eyes should be and lighter pixels where cheeks should be. Once the AVA program determines that the pixel patterns are of a human face, it categorizes the face according to gender and age and records how long the face looked at the sign.

 

The Intel® AIM Suite consists of four elements that provide digital signage network operators with the metrics needed to determine and maximize the return on investment for individual display campaigns (See figure 1). The Intel® AIM View module includes the face-detection technology software described above that captures viewer statistics data. Intel® AIM Analytics is a web-based service module that operators can use to securely view data and generate periodic reports. The main Intel® AIM Suite element is the master control application that manages instances of Intel® AIM View and uploads data to Intel® AIM Analytics. The forth element is Intel® AIM Manage, a web-based license and sensor management system that remotely manages all computers running the Intel® AIM Suite.

 

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To ease the initial startup challenges encountered with intelligent signage, Intel has teamed with Microsoft and Winmate to create the DSEK-11 Digital Signage Evaluation Kit (See figure 2). This reference platform is based on the 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i5 processor with Intel® Active Management Technology coupled with the graphics media accelerator HD engine of the mobile Intel QM67 Express Chipset providing enhanced performance levels for compute-intensive applications like anonymous video analytics and multiple zone displays. The kit comes pre-installed with a Windows Embedded Standard 7 evaluation run-time image, allowing developers to build run-time OS images that are optimized for digital signage applications. The media player also features a 2.5 inch SATA solid state disk drive, a PCI Express WiFi module, a Bluetooth module, and a gigabit Ethernet interface. Display interfaces include VGA, DVI-D, HDMI, and Display Port. An 82 page user’s guide for the DSEK-11 is available at the Winmate website.

 

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The 2nd generation Intel® Core™ architecture is ideal for intelligent digital signage applications and combines a variable number of CPU cores with an integrated graphics processor optimized for media plus dedicated fixed-function hardware for video processing. The graphics section is composed of an array of parallel execution units for 3D applications and hardware acceleration for high speed encoding or decoding of high definition video.  If you are starting a new intelligent digital signage project and you have questions, please share your concerns with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. Check back for part 2 of this audience measurement blog post for a roundup of related hardware and software products. You can also keep up with technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on intelligent digital signage.

 

To view other community content on Sensing and Analytics, see “Sensing and Analytics - Top Picks

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Warren Webb

OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance

 

Microsoft is an Associate member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance.

By Santhosh Nair, Director of Medical Vertical Market, Wind River

For the makers of medical devices used in mobile healthcare, connectivity is becoming increasingly critical.

 

Devices are becoming more intelligent and controlling more and more aspects of patient care, clinical diagnostics, and hospital administration. And they are interacting not just with people—expanding our ability to communicate and share information—but also with each other. They control systems that literally keep people alive. Machine-to-machine (M2M) interaction, delivered by ever-smaller, ever-smarter components, allows for new levels of “situational awareness” and analytics, revolutionizing medical practices.

 

Business realities are also driving the need for ever-greater connectivity in medical devices. Interoperable connectivity is important both for keeping costs in line and for ensuring compliance with safety and security standards and requirements. For example, to reduce costs and meet consumer demands, seamless connectivity via Bluetooth and wireless local area networks (WLANs) are often required. Cost is another important consideration: the use of open connectivity standards can reduce implementation and lifecycle costs. Connectivity also increases efficiency: IT integration with medical device functionality enables preventive monitoring and workflow optimization.

 

Equally important, connectivity impacts compliance. To meet medical industry safety standards and regulations, device manufacturers must find a way to tackle the increased security risks of the connected era. According to McAfee, more than 55,000 new malware programs are uncovered every day, aimed at attacking connected devices of every type and size. However, cyber security certification can only be ensured for a complete, integrated system, including applications.

 

In short, the complexity of connectivity is creating huge headaches for medical device manufacturers, and the problem is compounded by the rapid growth of the healthcare industry itself over the past decade. Today there are too many devices, made by too many companies, utilizing too many competing standards, deployed at too many hospitals and clinics, to tie it all together in any cohesive way.

 

The result is that all too often, several different manufacturers make similar devices using different standards, and these devices can’t communicate with each other. They can’t be connected. They can’t share data. They add cost and complexity. They end up reducing the quality of patient care rather than improving it.

 

Clearly, consolidation of standards is necessary in the medical device industry. Wind River is attempting to address the situation by making available a healthcare standards protocol—a basic, certified middleware stack that can be used by all device manufacturers to ensure their devices can communicate with all other devices built to the standard. In addition, we are expanding the use of other key industry standards within our platform so that our ecosystem of partners can simply take our stack and integrate it into their products with no issues. This will enable medical device manufacturers to select Wind River or Wind River ecosystem solutions and lower their barriers to entry.

 

 

 

 

For additional information about Wind River, visit:

http://www.windriver.com/

http://www.facebook.com/WindRiverSystems

 

Wind River is an Associate member of the Intel® Embedded Alliance


By Marc Brown, Vice President of Tools and Marketing Operations, Products Group, Wind River

 

Security is a heavily overloaded term, meaning different things to different people. In the embedded systems world, news on security is often about Stuxnet or similar attacks where an enemy can control devices remotely and shut them down, make them behave abnormally, or worse, cause equipment failure and destruction.  In the enterprise world there is news of information breaches and sensitive data exposure which often seems to be unrelated to embedded systems. However, for embedded security it’s important to consider both the safe and correct behavior of the system and the data it may store or transmit. These two key areas of security concerns and priorities are as follows.

 

Information Assurance

First is Information Assurance, this is all about protecting and preserving data. The top priority for information assurance is the data the device stores or transmits, typically this data is confidential or, in government and military applications, it’s highly sensitive possibly secret or top secret. The embedded device must be designed in such a way that it’s very, very difficult for an attacker to gain access to the stored or transmitted information on the device.  This protection can include external, network based attacks but also where the attacker has physical access to the device as well. Correct and safe operation of the device is not necessarily the top priority for information assurance.

 

Cyber Security

The second key area is cyber security – where the aim is to protect the device from intrusion from the outside world to prevent failure, incorrect or unsafe behavior. The chief aim of cyber security is to prevent unwanted manipulation of the behavior of the devices. Leaking or exposing data is not a primary concern of cyber security.

 

The key areas of embedded device security are shown in the following diagram:

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Managing device security risk is about prioritization and balance between these two key aspects of information assurance and cyber security. Its not an either-or scenario – no manufacturer wants their device to protect data but be easily disrupted due to attacks. Alternatively, many classes of devices do not handle sensitive data but their correct and safe operation is paramount. However, as machine-to-machine communication grows into important parts of our infrastructure (e.g. the Smart Grid for our electrical system) automation devices maybe safety critical and handle confidential information. Understanding these two key areas of security and managing the risks in both areas is critical for secure embedded device design.

 

The Next Steps

Understanding the security priorities for your embedded device is important but only part of secure device development approach that needs to start before your devices is designed and built.

 

These include:

* Threat assessment – understanding the security threats to your device, the attack vectors and the desired response from the device under such attacks.

* Secure design – designing security into your device as a key requirement. Employing secure design and development techniques.

* Proper runtime selection – selecting and building upon a secure runtime platform. Embedded operating systems need to support advanced security techniques, communication and data security and robust and reliable operation.

* Securing the applications – applications must be designed and architected for security. Importantly, the device should restrict application execution through whitelisting and greylisting techniques.

* Product lifecycle support – security needs to be designed into a product with platform, process and tools support throughout its lifespan.

 

In future posts we’ll be discussing the steps to embedded security in more detail.

 

 

 

For additional information about Wind River, visit:

http://www.windriver.com/

http://www.facebook.com/WindRiverSystems

 

Wind River is an Associate member of the Intel® Embedded Alliance

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications strategies and cloud computing are transforming embedded connectivity from an assortment of fragmented, proprietary technologies to open standards easily integrated into new designs. This new direction in M2M connectivity enables a wide range of applications and services by exchanging real-time data between remote devices, one or more central servers, and authorized third parties. In addition, these improved M2M solutions can reduce capital and operating expenditures, while creating opportunities for new and increased revenue streams. In part 1 of this series, I presented an overview of M2M communications requirements and focused on software and Intel-based hardware products available for the remote terminal. This second part covers the connectivity options for various applications and the cloud-based services available to simplify or eliminate M2M infrastructure.

 

The major goal of M2M communications is to combine real-time data from remote devices with enterprise applications to automate everyday company decisions in order to optimize business output and lower costs. For example, a major retail chain can collect and analyze remote data from warehouses, delivery vehicles, and outlets to accurately manage inventory, reduce costs, and quickly respond to unexpected demand.  With the new, low-cost data collection platforms described in part 1, the amount of streaming data can easily overwhelm existing enterprise infrastructure as the number of endpoints grows. To deal with these new data collection and analysis challenges, Intel has teamed with several M2M companies to create development kits to simplify the data filtering and reduce or eliminate burdens on existing processing systems.

 

For example, ILS Technology recently introduced the deviceWISE M2M Application Deployment Kit offering customers the tools to create secure and scalable M2M applications for critical infrastructure in the commercial and industrial markets. The kit combines the company’s configurable deviceWISE M2M Gateway software, a gateway hardware platform, and a developer cloud subscription (See figure 1).  The M2M aggregation gateway features an Intel® Atom™ processor for rapid prototyping of configurations requiring wired, wireless, serial, Wi-Fi, and ZigBee interfaces. The software includes a device connection library, edge processing, and event engine allowing customers to create workflows to translate the raw data into intelligent events for secure transmission to applications residing in the cloud or at customer locations. Customers can readily implement monitoring and predictive maintenance applications that exchange data from remote devices to existing enterprise applications on a global scale with no custom programming required.

 

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Eurotech’s Everyware Device Cloud (EDC) is another M2M system that enables designers to develop cloud-based solutions to exchange data between distributed devices and business applications (See figure 2). The EDC consists of several easy-to-use building blocks including the Everyware Cloud for data access and management, the Everyware Software Framework (ESF) based on the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment, the Wind River Linux operating system and development tool chain plus Eurotech’s Intel Atom-based family of hardware platforms that I covered in part 1of this series. Eurotech offers a broad range of standard interfaces and application programming interfaces (APIs) that make the EDC viable for a variety of business applications. The EDC is also available through a device-as-a-service (DaaS) purchasing model in which the customer pays a predictable monthly fee for the data and services provided with no upfront hardware or software investment required.

 

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Both of these M2M development kits and tools rely on Intel processors to capture, process, and stream real-time data from distributed terminals into the cloud for delivery to enterprise or third party analysis computers. The low, cost, low power architecture of the Intel Atom fits a wide range of these applications including those destined for extended temperature environments, or long life embedded applications, or even those with enhanced graphics requirements. The combination of the Intel® Atom™ processor at the data collection end and powerful software features from Eurotech and ILS Technology could be just the ticket for your next M2M development project. If you are starting or have completed a cloud-based M2M embedded design, please offer your suggestions and share your experience or questions via comments with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community.  You can keep up with related technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on cloud connectivity.

 

To view other community content on connectivity, see “Connectivity - Top Picks

 

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Warren Webb

OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance

 

Eurotech and Wind River Systems are Associate members of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. ILS Technology is an Affiliate member of the Alliance.

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