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2013

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Collision avoidance has long been important in video games, and it’s now starting to appear in real life. High-end vehicles include a number of collision avoidance technologies that are rapidly becoming mainstream. If your current car doesn’t have them, it’s a good bet that your next car will.

 

Before collision avoidance technologies can help you avoid collisions, your car first has to be computerized; with as many as 100 processors in a mid-range car, that’s a done deal. The first electronic control units (ECUs) in passenger vehicles date back to 1971 when Ford introduced a 4-sensor, 3-channel anti-lock braking (ABS) systems in the Lincoln Continental. By quickly and repeatedly braking to the skid point ABS systems can reduce stopping distance by 30% compared to what a skilled driver could hope to accomplish.

 

Even with ABS assistance if you brake hard on a rain slick street your car can careen out of control. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems can detect both skidding and loss of steering control. They detect when the car is going in a different direction from where you’re steering it, then they apply braking selectively to individual wheels to keep the car on an even keel; some units may even throttle back the engine until you regain control. If a crash seems immanent the ESC system will pre-tension seatbelts. All new vehicles sold in the U.S. since 2012 have electronic stability control.

 

On the Radar


ABS and ESC systems help you out once a collision is imminent, but how can you foresee and forestall a probable collision? By the use of radar-based adaptive cruise control (ACC). When the radar detects a possible collision it first gives an audible warning to the driver as well as a visual signal projected onto the windshield. If the warnings aren’t heeded the ACC will initiate braking—and, if necessary, steering—in order to avoid the collision.

 

In the early 1970s automobile manufacturers began experimenting with millimeter-wave radar for collision avoidance, though the suitcase-size devices were hardly practical for the family car. Modern systems employ both long-range radar (LRR) operating at 77 GHz and short range radar (SRR) operating in the 24-26 GHz range.

 

Long-range radar is typically used to look far ahead for possible obstacles on which you’re closing; they require your attention but not immediate action. Short-range radar is better suited for crowded, urban environments. SRR can be used for blind-spot detection (BSD), raising a lane change warning (LCW) if you start to change lanes when a car is approaching from the rear. If you don’t react quickly to the warning the ESC system can prevent you from steering into that lane. Narrow-band SRR systems operating in the 21.65-26.65 GHz ISM band may use multiple antennas for beam forming, enabling them to narrow their focus to a particular approaching vehicle while ignoring nearby traffic.

 

Camera sensors are sometimes used in conjunction with radar in ACC systems. Backup cameras have proven their worth for city parking and just backing down your driveway. Side mounted cameras can serve as blind-spot detectors and warn of pending dangers to the side while the radars focus on the line of travel. Infrared night-vision cameras can detect pedestrians or animals in the road ahead that radar may discern but not be able to identify; using the windshield like a heads-up display the road ahead is much more comprehensible than what your headlights show on a dark night. The results from radar and camera sensors are fused with vehicle acceleration, braking, and handling systems to reduce the possibility of accidents.


Hardware Makes It Happen


One thing that all collision avoidance technologies require is low latency data processing and rapid response to pending problems. A car traveling at 70 miles per hour covers 100 feet in less than a second; a distracted driver who suddenly became aware of an obstruction in the road could easily travel the length of a football field before even applying the brakes. A radar equipped adaptive cruise control system, detecting the problem as well as the driver’s hesitation, could respond in a fraction of a second by applying the brakes and, if necessary, steering around the obstruction. Every step in this process – from detection to correction – requires a fast, flexible computing platform.

 

The Intel® Atom™ processor has been widely adopted in transportation applications, thanks to its speed, flexibility, low power consumption, and ability to operate in demanding environments. The dual core Intel Atom processor D2550 (formerly Cedar Trail) doubles down on these capabilities. Running at 1.86 GHz the D2550 has a memory bandwidth of 6.4 GB/s and an integrated graphics processor. Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology delivers two processing threads to each physical core, enabling highly threaded applications to get more work done in parallel, completing tasks sooner. The D2550’s Intel® 64 architecture improves performance by allowing systems to address more than 4 GB of both virtual and physical memory. In short the Intel Atom processor D2550 is particularly well suited to the applications described above.

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Figure 1. Intel® AtomTM processor

D2000/N2000 series system block diagram

 

 

The new MS-9896 Fanless 3.5” Embedded Board from Micro Star International (MSI) is a small form factor single board computer (SBC) built around the Intel Atom processor  D2550/N2800/N2600 Dual Core CPU, an Intel® GMA3650 Graphics Controller, and an Intel® NM10 Express chipset. Designed to work from a 12V supply the MS-9896 supports DDR3 1066 MHz SO-DIMM memory up to 4 GB and can drive two independent displays (VGA/HDMI/LVDS). The numerous I/O channels include 6x USB 2.0, 4x COM, 8-bit GPIO, 2x GbE LAN, and 2x PCIe.

 

The COM-CV Rev.B-Com Express CPU Module from Aaeon Technology is a compact COM Express Type 2 SBC. It includes a 1.86 GHz Intel® Atom™ D2550, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor N2600, 1.86 GHz Intel Atom processor N2800 (optional), 4 GB of DDR3 memory, 8x USB2.0, GPIO 8-bit, 3x PCI-Express, 2x 32-bit PCI00, and 1x Gigabit Ethernet. An 18/24-bit dual channel LVDS interface can support a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. The COM-CV unit can operate from 32-1400F (-40-800C) at up to 90% relative humidity.

 

Looking Ahead

 

As radar-based collision avoidance systems become more capable, the era of completely autonomous vehicles is getting closer. Adaptive cruise control systems—interacting with other vehicles and intelligent highway infrastructure—will interact smoothly with drivers, greatly reducing the frequency and seriousness of accidents.

 

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Aaeon Technology is an Associate member and Micro Star International is an Affiliate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

 

John Donovan

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Editor/Publisher, Low-Power Design
Follow me on twitter: @jdonovan43

Balancing power and performance is a challenge that industrial system designers face as much as any other embedded developer. But what happens when integrated graphics and connectivity demands begin to be placed on industrial platforms? Developers will need a compute option capable of next-generation performance that also provides the flexibility to meet current application needs.

 

Responding to industrial systems’ need for high performance in a flexible package, the recently released 4th generation Intel® Core™ processor (Haswell microarchitecture) integrates a wide range of SKUs and new features that enable developers to cope with a changing landscape. This Roundtable discussion with Vibhoosh Gupta of GE Intelligent Platforms, and Dan Demers of congatec provides an overview of the Haswell microarchitecture’s benefits, while also considering how scalability within the Intel® product family is pushing computing “closer to the idea of common platforms.” Edited excerpts follow.

 

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Vibhoosh Gupta, Product Management Leader, GE Intelligent Platforms

 

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Dan Demers, Director of Marking – America, congatec, Inc.

 

Intel Roving Reporter: What is driving the need for increased performance in industrial computing, and what does this mean for system designs?

 

Vibhoosh Gupta, GE Intelligent Platforms: Industrial systems are performing more tasks and doing so more quickly, more accurately, and in harsher environments than ever before. They are becoming connected tools with substantially more computing and communication capabilities, allowing them to interoperate with other devices. According to a 2011 Ericsson study, 50 billion machines will connect to the Internet by 2016. As these billions of machines join the connected world, appetite for higher processing will continue to evolve.

 

Dan Demers, congatec: Previously cabled systems are going wireless, and, of course, are now being connected to the web more and more: the Internet of Things (IoT). An example application is industrial tablet PCs being used for multiple tasks versus single tasks. This drives the industrial tablet to perform at higher levels than many previous platforms, and also takes into consideration thermal and power designs much more. Connectivity and security are being addressed more as well.

 

Oftentimes, the demand for higher clock speed and graphics capabilities not only means a higher cost silicon platform, but also increased challenges in packaging the platform in a portable, lightweight design. It is definitely a balancing act, especially if a previous design is based on two or more separate subsystems that make up the entire product (for example, a brick-type PC or enclosure accompanied by a standalone LCD and standalone input device).

 

RR: How does the Intel's Haswell microarchitecture enable designers to meet the challenges of these systems?

 

Dan Demers, congatec: The Haswell microarchitecture is a very scalable platform. This certainly helps designers fine-tune their applications and systems to get the most out of the silicon. The recently announced Haswell microarchitecture system-on-chip (SoC) designs help address not only overall size, but cost as well. The performance of the integrated graphics is certainly something that cannot go unmentioned. When you add that to the fact that multicore processing is standard, the Haswell microarchitecture is a very compelling story for designers. Security is also addressed. We continue to see higher levels of integration from Intel, and this helps designers more easily and economically implement aspects into their designs (Figure 1).


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Figure 1. Intel's Haswell microarchitecture integrates a variety of features that allow designers to easily integrate advanced functionality into their designs.

 

Intel® Turbo Boost Technology is something that comes to mind right away. When the application needs it, the Haswell microarchitecture boosts to deliver the extra performance. The Haswell microarchitecture has a long list of advanced technologies that help to balance power and performance (Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology, Intel® Virtualization Technology, and so on). The scalability of the Haswell microarchitecture also increases the likelihood that designers will find the right SKU for their system; in other words, a SKU that has the right amount of performance and power draw for their scenario.

 

The most grueling applications are obviously going to focus on the higher end of Haswell microarchitecture offerings. At congatec, we see a lot of demand for the Intel® Core™  i7-4700EQ processor SKU. It is where many designers start their benchmarking and performance data gathering (Figure 2). There is often that inherent desire to have the latest, greatest, and fastest. As development continues, many customers hone in a little tighter to their true requirements. It really depends on the application and performance requirements.

 

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Figure 2. The conga-TS87 is a Type 6 COM Express Basic module based on the 4th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor for industrial applications that require high-end performance.

 

Vibhoosh Gupta, GE Intelligent Platforms: The performance requirement for industrial systems varies by application. While some applications require better graphics engines, others require more highly integrated chipsets. One thing they all have in common that is emerging is a demand for higher performance and lower power.

 

There are two general trends that seem to be converging for this class of CPU:

 

1) Low-end embedded control applications, such as engine control, are adding Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) and beginning to use multiple cores for some of the real-time functions that previously ran on dedicated Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs).

 

2) From the high end, more and more applications are starting to meet their processing needs by using 4th generation Intel® Core i3/i5/i7 processor-class CPUs as opposed to server-class CPUs. This makes system design much more attractive, enabling cost savings on multiple fronts.

 

The biggest challenge is finding the correct balance between power, performance, thermals, real estate, and cost. The flexibility to scale performance/cost with pin-compatible 4th generation Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processors allows embedded engineers to meet application-specific power/performance balances (Figure 3).

 

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Figure 3. The rugged XVR16 6U VME Single Board Computer (SBC) from GE Intelligent Platforms is based on a quad-core 4th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor in the same power envelope as its predecessor, making it ideal for image and digital signal processing applications.

 

RR: What are your projections for the future of industrial systems, and how is the Intel product line ensuring industrial designs keep pace?


Dan Demers, congatec: I fully expect to see the drive to reduce size and power while increasing performance to continue. Higher levels of integration will continue to happen. Flexibility is something that I see increasing as well. By this, I mean that more and more industrial systems will operate multiple functions to really make an impact on return on investment (ROI) and true cost of ownership. We only have to look at how flexible a product like an Apple iPad* is when consider the number of “things” it can do.

 

The opportunity identified is so large that Intel must focus resources on it. There is a lot of data to mine and a lot of devices that want to talk to each other. Creating a scenario where hardware, software, and tools simplify the means of understanding all of the data seems daunting, but there is so much to be gained. Intel is spending a lot of time and resources educating designers and the public about the Intelligent Systems Framework. It is inherent that they will continue to design platforms to fill all of the areas in the chain. Think about the massive amount of scalability in platforms that Intel offers today – this is enabling a situation where we get closer to the idea of common platforms.

 

 

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congatec and GE Intelligent Platforms are Associate members of the  Intel® Internet of Things (IoT) Solutions Alliance.


Brandon Lewis

OpenSystems Media*, by special arrangement with the Intel® Internet of Things (IoT) Solutions Alliance

Follow me on Twitter: @BrandonLewis13

First, the obligatory conference summary. NFV celebrated its first birthday in Frankfurt last week, at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress which occurred exactly a year after a group of telecom service providers announced the formation of the ETSI NFV ISG. Both from the wide range of conference presentations and from the solutions showcased by exhibitors, it was clear that tremendous progress has been made in addressing the complex issues that must be solved in order for deployments to be viable and cost-effective. In our booth, we were pleased to see strong interest in our accelerated Open vSwitch solution that’s optimized for SDN and NFV applications. We enjoyed Tom Nolle’s explanation of the benefits this provides and we also learned that we’d won a 2013 Excellence in SDN Award from TMC.

End of trip report. The conference has been summarized excellently in a variety of blogs, written by attendees who have done a great job of highlighting the most interesting points from such an extensive event.

For me, though, the presentation that I will remember longest is the one given by Tetsuya Nakamura, Senior Research Engineer at NTT DOCOMO and Assistant Manager with the ETSI NFV ISG.

In his presentation “Carriers' expectations and challenges for Network Virtualisation”, Nakamura-san outlined the impact on communications infrastructure caused by the 2011 earthquake in Eastern Japan. He explained how NTT DOCOMO has applied SDN technology to ensure that the most critical communications will suffer less impact in any future disasters: these communications are voice calls from people desperate to confirm the safety of family members.

SDNOF-1.pngNakamura-san showed graphs illustrating how the demand for voice services skyrocketed in the minutes and hours immediately following the earthquake and tsunami.

NTT DOCOMO saw a 60x increase in attempted voice calls during this time. Obviously, when the priority is to confirm that a family member is OK, no-one cares about email or rich media, they want to talk to them.

NTT DOCOMO was able to connect only around 5% of the call attempts. Even as far away as Tokyo, the network was so congested that the vast majority of calls within Tokyo failed.

The net result: many millions of concerned people were unable to confirm the safety of their family members. At the same time, ironically, people were able to stream videos and access rich media pretty much as normal.

The problem, of course, was the static configuration of the network. Network capacity (bandwidth and equipment) was provisioned to handle normal volumes of voice, email and rich media traffic. In normal times, the goal for the network is to provide high-quality service at a reasonable price and resources are optimized for cost-efficiency. In a disaster scenario, however, the requirement is to support the most necessary (voice) communications, by applying a huge amount of resources not used for voice in normal periods.

As Nakamura-san stated in his slides, “Disaster-resilient mobile networks must support contradicting demand in normal periods and in the disaster period. To develop flexible mobile networks, the key issue is how to improve flexibility in control systems to allow reallocation of functions depending on the changing demands.”

SDNOF-2.pngEnter SDN. Since the disaster, NTT DOCOMO has implemented SDN to achieve dynamic resource allocation, ensuring the viability of their networks even in an emergency. This brings a massive improvement in the acceptance rate of voice calls immediately following a disaster.

A combination of the Service Resource Control Framework and Call/Service Control provide flexible control of system resources.

In a normal period, resources are mostly allocated to EPC functions, supporting email and rich media traffic. In response to a disaster, however, virtualization-aware control and management services are used to dynamically reallocate resources, scaling up the capacity for IMS-based voice traffic.

As illustrated in the diagram below, NTT DOCOMO expects these innovations to boost the call acceptance rate by 5x during a scenario such as the 2011 disaster. This is achieved not by increasing the network capacity (shown flat in the analysis), but by the SDN-based reallocation of resources.

SDNOF-3.pngNTT DOCOMO has built data centers in Tohoku and Yokosuka to evaluate and stress-test this architecture. They can emulate congestion in an area supporting 500,000 consumers, representing more than 700,000 calls per hour (196 calls per second). Before reallocation, the network can accept 125,000 calls per hour and this rises to 700,000 after reallocation, with the transition being accomplished in less than 30 minutes. Eventually, the trials will encompass additional sites and then the architecture will be deployed in the live network.

We all read and listen to a lot of SDN- and NFV-related stories where the outcome is measured in service velocity, CAPEX, OPEX and ARPU. Nakamura-san’s presentation was different. He talked about the anguish felt by real people, trying to contact family members in the aftermath of the kind disaster that most of us can only imagine. In this case, SDN technology will ensure that many more of those calls go through. Isn’t that the ultimate example of “end-user value” for the people of Japan?

Forget bracelets and football jerseys; the real rock star gear of #Pinktober is the X-ray mammography equipment that research shows saves lives by detecting breast cancer in the early stages of the disease.

 

To make accurate diagnoses based on the images produced by mammograms and other screening technologies, health care professionals need high-performance medical stations to quickly process and analyze massive amounts of data in a secure, interconnected system. These mobile terminals must handle heavy-duty graphics processing and provide reliable I/O functionality to enable intelligent decision-making right in the doctor’s office or hospital room.

 

The new 4th generation Intel® Core™ processor family can efficiently execute the performance demands of medical stations as well as provide optimized graphics and long battery life, all without busting the power budget for portable medical devices. Based on the Haswell microarchitecture using 22 nm process technology, these processors offer 15 percent faster CPU performance over the previous generation, a whopping 50 percent improvement in battery life in active workloads, and power levels as low as 6 watts, fulfilling essential operating requirements of 2-in-1 designs in the consumer space and other intelligent systems such as medical tablets and terminals.

 

In addition to delivering top-notch computing performance, 4th generation Intel Core processors satisfy another critical prerequisite in devices that must process and display medical images by doubling the 3D performance of preceding Intel® HD Graphics products and supporting up to three independent screen displays with Ultra HDTV or 4K resolution via the new built-in Intel® Iris graphics. Equipped with new Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) 2.0 instructions to enable faster calculations, Intel’s latest highly integrated System-on-Chip (SoC) platform offers other graphics features beneficial to medical terminals, including Intel® Quick Sync Video for accelerating video encoding and decoding and Intel® Wireless Display technology (Intel® WiDi) for wirelessly streaming multimedia to other compatible devices.

 

Addressing the need for low power consumption in mobile medical units and other portable devices, the 4th generation Intel Core processor improves both active and idle power via new ultra-low-power processor states and helps extend battery life by accelerating start-up (in ultrabooks, less than 3 seconds from deep sleep) through Intel® Rapid Start Technology.

 

The amped-up yet low-power graphics and computing capabilities that make the 4th generation Intel Core processor ideal for ultrabooks effectively cross over to the medical sector, where mobile tablets and terminals must provide user experiences that are just as instantaneous and intuitive as they are in consumer applications to help deliver immediate and strategic care at a patient’s bedside.

 

Arbor Technology is putting the 4th generation Intel Core processor into (medical) practice – particularly for nursing and hospital Picture Archive and Communication System (PACS) applications – in the new M1922 19” Fanless Medical Station (Figure 1). Utilizing the Intel® Core™ i5-4402E 1.6 GHz processor with QM87 chipset or Intel® Celeron™ 2002E 1.5 GHz processor with HM86 chipset, the M1922 offers rich I/O and multi-connectivity that can simplify data transmission within a hospital or clinic infrastructure and help reduce medical personnel’s workload, says Rex Hsieh, Arbor’s medical products manager.

M1922_front.jpgFigure 1. Arbor Technology’s M1922 19” Fanless Medical Station leverages the CPU and graphics performance of the 4th generation Intel® Core™ architecture in nursing and PACS applications.

 

“Based on Intel’s 4th Generation Core processor, M1922 provides great visual experiences for medical services,” Hsieh says. “With the design of one DisplayPort, M1922 can have dual-screen graphic displays to simultaneously transmit 1080P full HD medical graphics.”

 

The M1922 displays these graphics on a 19” 4:3 wide-viewing angle LCD with resistive touch and offers a 5.0 MP front-facing camera for video conferencing, as well as an optional Serial Digital Interface (SDI) connector that can enable high-resolution video input of endoscopy surgeries, Hsieh says. Besides DisplayPort, the medical station supports dual RS-232, single RS-232/422/485, an SDHC card, and four USB 3.0 ports, while providing connectivity via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and two Ethernet LAN ports.

 

To meet the low-power requirements of mobile medical applications, Arbor’s M1922 supplies an optional alternative external battery that can serve as Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) to safeguard medical procedures from any accidental situations such as unexpected power failure, Hsieh says. As a security measure, the M1922 employs access control via an RFID reader and dual smart carder readers, requiring medical personnel to use two cards simultaneously to access a patient’s record, he says.

 

The Intel Core i5 processor integrated in the M1922 further protects critical patient data by incorporating Intel® Anti-Theft Technology (Intel® AT), which offers automatic lockdown upon missed security check-ins and quickly recovers content using a one-time password. For maintaining advanced system integration and providing remote diagnosis capabilities, the M1922 implements Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) to consistently manage data transmitted across different platforms within the same infrastructure.

 

Medical stations such as Arbor’s M1922 must interact and interoperate with a variety of advanced systems throughout a hospital or doctor’s office. Read this article to learn how the 4th generation Intel Core processor is powering off-the-shelf boards and modules from other members of the Intel Intelligent Systems Alliance targeting medical imaging applications such as cart-based ultrasounds.

 

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Arbor Technology is an Affiliate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

 

Jennifer Hesse

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Self-checkout is a win-win for customers and retailers looking to shorten checkout lines, but a surprising amount of merchandise is lost at self-checkout stations, impacting retailer profits. Fortunately, technology is coming to the rescue. At the 2010 National Retailer Federation Convention, Intel introduced a proof of concept for a solution designed to help reduce this kind of shrink, as well as help speed up the self-checkout process. Today, boards based on 4th generation Intel® Core™ processors from members of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance (Intel® IoT Solutions Alliance) make it easier than ever for developers to implement Intel’s idea and ones of their own as part of massive retail transformation underway with the IoT. The self-checkout loss-reduction solution is simple: an intelligent self-checkout station equipped with video and the processing power for video analytics. Such a solution can to provide immediate alerts of errors to customers and warn store management of potential thefts in progress.

 

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Figure 1. Intel PoC of a self-checkout station integrating a video camera and video analytics to reduce loss and speed up self-checkout.


The Causes of Loss at Self Checkout

Not every loss at self checkout is from shoplifters. They’re actually the exception, though a perplexing problem because they tend to be repeat offenders. Most losses come from consumers simply making mistakes. Unscanned items are often unintentional or inadvertent. Nonetheless, according to one source, shoplifting is five times more likely to happen in the self-checkout lane.

 

Sources of self-checkout problems and losses include the following:

·        Barcode reading problems due to poor printing or other issues

·        Inexperience with the self-checkout equipment and process

·        Customers hiding things in their cart under bags or a coat so they don’t have to scan them

·        Piggy-backing items—scanning one item, but actually carrying two items across the scanner

·        Scanning lower priced items in the place of higher priced ones of similar weight, such as scanning cheap batteries, but putting higher priced ones in the bag at the end

·        Weighing an item such as expensive bulk coffee beans and inputting a produce code for something inexpensive, such as bananas

·        Covering a barcode and running an item across the scanner to make it look to a sales associate as if an item was scanned.

·        Replacing an expensive item’s barcode with a less expensive item’s barcode

 

Some of these are shoplifting methods and one of the reasons they frequently work is that retailers get fed up with false alerts at self-checkout stations and disable the weight-based security. False alerts happen with light items such as greeting cards that do not register on the scale to show the item was bagged or when a customer places a wallet, purse, keys, or other personal item on the bagging/scale area and the transaction has to pause for an associate’s approval. Another problem is when manufacturers do a promotion bundling items such as shaving cream with a free razor. If the weight database hasn’t been updated for such a short-term promotion, the customer and sales associate have to deal with an alert.

 

How Adding Video and Video Analytics Helps

In the PoC, Intel demonstrated that video analytics can spot when an item wasn’t scanned to prevent inadvertent customer errors or theft. Video analytics can also detect when people are piggy-backing products or deliberately replacing the barcodes of expensive items with those from cheaper ones. In the PoC, software provided by NCR enabled this feature, including the modifications required to accommodate the video analytics feed from RTS Flexible Systems.

 

NCR and Fujitsu have been working with StopLift Checkout Vision Systems to devise a similar self-checkout solution. The result is a system that can instantly recognize when an item was not scanned and send an alert with imagery showing the possible deception to an associate. The associate can then show the customer that they are watching and that the item needs to be scanned. The alert could also go to a loss prevention associate who could handle the situation once the customer attempts to leave the store. The system can also detect merchandise left in the shopping cart or bagged outside of the bagging area without scanning. With real-time alerts, the attendant is notified right away before the customer leaves the checkout. In addition, the system can identify an item not meant for purchase placed in the bagging area, such as keys or a reusable shopping bag, preventing an alert and keeping the checkout process going.

 

StopLift’s ScanItAll web application provides includes a secure web 2.0 interface to view and analyze the actionable incidents it detects. Combining state-of-the-art web video streaming technology with video-to-transaction log synchronization, the ScanItAll™ web application works on any of the major web browsers without the need of installing additional software.

 

In addition to solving many of the problems in self-checkout today, such video-assisted self-checkout system also provide an important training asset. Retailers can use captured footage to improve associate training on spotting and preventing loss at self-checkout stations.

 

Develop Your Own (DYO)

Developers who want to develop a self-checkout system that can use ScanItAll or a video analytics solution of their own would do well to base that solution on a board powered by the 4th generation Intel Core processor product family. These processors are designed to drive new opportunities for connected, managed, and secure intelligent systems on the IoT. To learn more about how they improve POS solutions, I suggest an earlier post “New 4th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors Ring Up Big Retail Advantages.” To learn how these processors excel at handling the video surveillance and analysis tasks required for these kinds of self-checkout solutions, check out “Haswell Platforms Will Meet Demand for High Resolution, Intelligent Video Analytics.”

 

As for boards featuring these processors, there are a lot to choose from. The Fujitsu Extended Lifecycle Mainboard D3222-B (Figure 2) is a Micro ATX board available with a range of 4th generation Intel Core processors and equipped with an Intel® I217-LM GbE Ethernet Controller to provide stable and manageable network connections. The Fujitsu D3222-B supports the latest Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT 9.0) security features like TPM v.1.2 and Secure Boot, plus enables remote manageability.

 

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Figure 2. Fujitsu D3222-B

 

Going even smaller, the IBASE IB908 (Figure 3) is a 3.5-inch disk-size SBC based on the latest low-power 4th generation Intel® Core™ U-series processor. Measuring 102mm by 147mm, the board is optimized for applications in POS and digital signage. The IB908 has two DDR3L SO-DIMM sockets with a maximum module capacity of 16GB 1600MHz. Graphics interfaces provided include DVI-I and 24-bit dual channel LVDS displays. The host of versatile connections and expansions include two Gigabit LAN, four USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, four serial ports, two SATA III ports and two Mini PCI-E slots—plenty of connectivity for however you need to configure it.

 

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Figure 3. IBASE IB908

 

In the Mini-ITX form factor, Advantech offers the AIMB-274 (Figure 4) with triple display capabilities—VGA/DP/HDMI (DP)/LVDS (eDP)—two COM ports, dual LAN, and one PCIe x16 (Gen 3) and two mini PCIe. For security, remote management, and easier software development, this board supports Intel® vPro™ technology, iManager, SUSIAccess, and Embedded Software APIs. 

 

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Figure 4. Advantech AIMB-274

 

For those looking for a Mini-ITX board developed with reference to the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework (Intel® ISF) guidelines, the Venture VG-QM87 (Figure 5) meets its specifications for connectivity, management and security and handling data in a consistent and scalable manner. Equipped with the Mobile Intel® QM87 Chipset, the VG-QM87 supports up to 32GB of DDR3L-1600 memory and has digital display connections for eDP/DP, HDMI, DVI (VGA connection is located in the Intel QM87 Chipset) and the ability to drive up to three independent displays concurrently. It’s also loaded with all the connectivity and expansion slots you’d expect in such an advanced system.

 

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Figure 5. Venture VG-QM87

 

Conclusion

Self-checkout is a growing and important part of the connected store. With video footage keyed to each checkout action, it’s easier to identify what items and consumer behaviors are slowing down the checkout process, as well as spot theft and collect video that can be used as evidence to prosecute shoplifters. Such self-checkout stations can be easily developed using a wide variety of boards from members of the Alliance that are equipped with 4th generation Intel Core processors. To find more of these boards and speed to market your own intelligent self-checkout solution, visit the Alliance’s Solutions Directory.

 

 

 

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Contact Featured Alliance Members:

Solutions in this blog:

·        Advantech AIMB-274

·        Fujitsu Extended Lifecycle Mainboard D3222-B

·        IBASE IB908

·        Venture VG-QM87

Related topics:

·        Sensing and Analytics - Top Picks (blogs, white papers, and more)

·        Retail - Top Picks (blogs, white papers, and more)

·        Digital Security & Surveillance - Top Picks (blogs, white papers, and more)

Advantech is a Premier member of the Intel® IoT Solutions Alliance. IBASE and Venture are Associate members of the Alliance. Fujitsu is a General member of the Alliance.

 

Mark Scantlebury

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® IoT Solutions Alliance

Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine

In the category of “really useful facts I learned last week (and can still remember after all this time)”, this one is certainly near the top of the list….

Skype.pngSkype now has over 500 million users and has seen 70 million conversations taking place simultaneously.

That means that if Skype was a country, it would be the third most populous nation in the world, below China and India but above the United States and Indonesia (thanks Wikipedia for the population data).

And presumably the 70 million Skype conversations that have happened simultaneously far outweigh the number of people in any of these countries actually talking to each other face-to-face, because those that aren’t on Skype are busy on Facebook, Renren, Sina, Weibo or WeChat describing what they just had for lunch.

These numbers came from a keynote address by Lori Lee, Senior Executive Vice President of Home Solutions at AT&T, during the TIA conference in Washington DC. As an interesting comparison, Ms. Lee pointed out that the 70 million simultaneous Skype conversations significantly exceed the total number of landlines provided by AT&T and Verizon combined.

This is a perfect illustration of the strategic threat faced by telecom service providers worldwide: the Over-the-Top (OTT) players continue to siphon revenue away from traditional voice and data services, while riding for free on the high-bandwidth networks into which exist only as a result of the massive capital investments made by the service providers themselves. While SDN and NFV promise to enable the service providers to efficiently deliver new, high-value services to both enterprises and consumers, most of the discussion still seems to be about cost savings rather than increased ARPU (Average Revenue per User).

TIA-2013-SDN-Workshop.jpgAt TIA, I enjoyed being part of a panel discussion that also involved executives from Ericsson (Don McCullough), Orange (Christos Kolias) and Tellabs (Stuart Benington).

During this session, moderated by Marc Cohn from Ciena, we talked about opportunities for Software Defined Networking (SDN) in mobile networks. So mostly we talked about Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), which celebrates its first birthday this week, having been formally announced during last year’s SDN & OpenFlow World Congress. It was encouraging that the audience questions were all about tactical topics relating to the deployment of NFV (network performance, end-to-end reliability, open-source software, Proof-of-Concepts). No-one seems to doubt that the overall NFV strategy makes sense; the issues are all about execution, timing and risk.

Our panel was part of a one-day SDN workshop held before the start of the TIA itself. The workshop included sessions that explored topics such as how carriers will gain a competitive advantage with SDN, the opportunities enabled by virtualization, what the big equipment suppliers are doing in SDN and where the investment dollars are flowing.

Throughout all these discussions (and there was certainly strong audience participation) there were a number of very consistent threads:

  • Service providers are very strongly predisposed to buy the technology that they need for successful SDN/NFV deployments, rather than develop it themselves. They will be heavily involved in PoCs and technology evaluations, but in the end they have a proven supply chain and there’s lots of benefit in preserving it.
  • Virtualization (network, server and storage) and cloud are key technologies that will enable the widespread usage of SDN and NFV.
  • OpenStack and Open Daylight are vastly preferred over proprietary solutions for orchestrators and SDN controllers.
  • The most important factor about “open” APIs is that they foster the development of a robust ISV community. That’s much more valuable than full compliance with complex standards that result from lengthy work by committees. De-facto standards are fine as long as ISVs can readily support them (of course the PC is the classic example of this). And the long-term goal is always “siliconization”, which leads to the ultimate in cost reduction.
  • Major vendors are starting to talk about real SDN/NFV products and there will be a large number of PoCs in 2014.
  • In 2012, “SDN” was widely considered to be synonymous with “OpenFlow”. Now, everyone understands that SDN is much more than a protocol and that OpenFlow is just one element within SDN.

 

SDNOF.pngI expect that many of these discussions will continue during SDN & OpenFlow World Congress in Frankfurt this week.

 

If you’re there, please do stop by 6WIND’s booth (number 16), where we’ll be demonstrating our accelerated Open vSwitch solution that’s optimized for SDN and NFV applications.

Hope to see you this week for NFV’s first birthday celebrations. Now please excuse me, my Skype is ringing…..

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