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3 Posts authored by: NicholasCravotta

The use of intelligent sensors in transportation systems enables a whole range of advanced capabilities that can increase passenger safety and improve operating efficiencies.  For example, when a train or bus can collect, analyze, and make decisions about data at a local level, it can identify potential risk of pending failure and alert operators to take corrective action.  However, even greater gains can be achieved when transportation systems can be connected to each other.  For example, data from a sensor that monitor’s a train’s speed and location can be sent over the cloud to provide more accurate arrival estimates.


With the introduction of the Intel® Gateway Solutions for IoT, recently announced at the Intel® Developer Forum (IDF) in Beijing, even legacy transportation systems can be connected to next-generation infrastructure in a efficient manner.  The Intel Gateway Solutions for IoT is a family of platforms based on Intel® Quark SoC and Intel® Atom™ processors that seamlessly interconnect and secure the flow of data between devices and the cloud.

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Figure 1: The Intel® Gateway Solutions for IoT is a family of platforms that seamlessly interconnect and secure the flow of data between devices and the cloud.

The availability of the Intel Gateway Solutions for IoT should accelerate the rate at which IoT connectivity is introduced to transportation systems.  A shared platform means shared volumes among applications in different industries, bringing costs down and enabling connectivity to be brought to wholly new applications.  Wider usage also increases the rate at which platforms can be proven in the market.  Finally, the platform already has a rich ecosystem of solutions that will allow transportation OEMs to more quickly leverage technological advances from other industries that follow closer to the leading-edge.


Key to the Intel Gateway Solutions for IoT is its open architecture and integrated approach to reducing the cost of edge connectivity systems and implementing IoT functionality.  Software from the OS to application levels has been integrated and pre-validated, resulting not just in faster design but also simplified application and services deployment with greater interoperability between systems.  The platform includes everything needed for secure end-to-end IoT connectivity, including the OS, protocols for networking, embedded control, enterprise-grade security, and manageability features.


With products based on the Intel Gateway Solutions for IoT, transportation designers will have a platform upon which they can build application-specific software, enabling them to focus on developing core functionality rather than reinventing their own connectivity platform.  The result is the ability to create intelligent gateways with the long-term, enterprise-grade robustness required for transportation applications.  In this way, developers can bring IoT to legacy transportation systems through common interfaces and seamless communication through the cloud.


The foundation software of the Intel Gateway Solutions for IoT includes the Wind River Intelligent Device Platform XT and McAfee Embedded Control.  The Wind River Intelligent Device Platform XT offers integrated software capabilities to enable the rapid development of software for M2M and IoT applications from development to deployment.  Based on Wind River’s industry-leading operating systems, the platform accelerates the development of services and applications backed by strong security, manageability, and connectivity.  Pre-validated software includes drivers for a wide range of hardware with libraries and tools supporting core services.  For transportation applications, the platform includes ready-to-use components to facilitate the design of machine-to-machine (M2M) applications.


Figure 2: The Wind River Intelligent Device Platform XT offers integrated software capabilities to enable the rapid development of software for M2M and IoT applications from development to deployment.

Among its key features, the Intelligent Device Platform has built-in gateway security to protect the communications channel, data, and device operation with a trusted hardware root and secure boot.  With Lua, Java, and OSGi application environments, developers have the flexibility to create portable, scalable, and reusable apps.  Device connectivity is simplified as well with support for the Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT) IoT data protocol as well as 2G/3G/4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and other short-range wireless protocols.  The platform also enables long-term secure remote device management using established protocols including Technical Report 069 (TR-069) and Open Management Alliance Device Management (OMA DM).


To keep IoT-based transportation systems secure, McAfee Embedded Control mitigates malware attacks to protect IoT devices and gateways exposed through the Internet.  Core to McAfee Embedded Control are application whitelisting and change control.  The term whitelisting refers to automatic creation of a dynamic “whitelist” of code that is authorized to run on the system.  The system is then locked to this known code base.  Application listing works at the kernel level to prevent unauthorized code from running on the system as well as reject any unauthorized changes to code.  Thus, application code is protected both on disk or in memory, preventing potential system compromises and minimizing the need to continuously issue security updates.


Figure 3: McAfee Embedded Control mitigates malware attacks to protect IoT devices and gateways exposed through the Internet.

McAfee Embedded Control also assures system integrity through automation of software change control policy enforcement and compliance.  Any attempts to change system files, directories, or registries outside of established policies are prevented.  In addition, such attempts are also logged and reported, providing complete visibility and accountability to simplify meeting compliance requirements.


Eurotech is one of the initial companies building upon this new platform and has validated its Everyware Software Framework (ESF) for the Intel Gateway Solutions for IoT.  Eurotech’s goal was to create an application-specific platform from which they could quickly develop exacting transportation solutions.  With ESF as part of the Intel Gateway Solutions for IoT, Eurotech is able to use pre-integrated components within their Java environment to quickly develop products and services using tools from other leading companies.

ESF is a comprehensive and application-oriented software framework based on Java and OSGi.  It makes device and data management accessible through open, standards-based solutions, offering developers flexibility in how they develop and offer IoT and M2M services.  ESF also extends connectivity options to support for field protocols like CANBUS, advanced device configuration management, and multiple M2M integration platform connectors.  In addition, by offering cohesive software components that can be modified, reconfigured, and maintained, systems can keep pace with evolving market demands.

Products based on the family of gateways solutions utilizing the Intel® Quark SoC X100 and Intel® Atom™ E3800 processors will be introduced  this quarter.  The platform scales to application performance requirements and has a roadmap to support both Intel® Core™ and Intel® Xeon® processors. Portwell has recently announced the  PI-81A0 IoT Gateway based on the new Intel Quark SoC X1000 series and other members of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance, including ADI Engineering and Advantech, are basing upcoming products on Intel Gateway Solutions for the IoT, each offering a solution customized for a particular market.


The Intel Gateway Solutions for IoT provides an exciting foundation for innovation in the transportation industry.  Developers can look forward to faster deployment with more connectivity options across multiple hardware platforms and programming environments.  The result is faster access to robust, leading-edge technology, leading to new market and revenue opportunities with room for growth and expansion into the future.

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Advantech and Portwell are Premier members of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance.  ADI Engineering, Eurotech, McAfee, and Wind River are Associate members of theAlliance.


Nicholas Cravotta

Roving Reporter (Intel® Contractor), Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance

The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to change how we interact with our world in nearly every way by enabling us to access data anywhere in the world.  Smart energy, or smart grid technology as is it also known, is one of the quieter aspects of IoT, given its machine-to-machine (M2M) implementation.  Advances in solar technology, for example, enable individuals to generate power beyond their needs and put it back onto the grid for others to use.  Similarly, large arrays of solar panels can provide an effective alternative source of power. 


Managing solar systems requires the collection, aggregation, and analysis of tremendous amounts of data.  Consider that each meter on the smart grid needs to be checked regularly and continuously to monitor the amount of power it is consuming or generating (when solar is present at the location).  The magnitude of data being generated is on the order of TBs/month and needs to be consistently tracked, both for billing accuracy and to enable useful availability forecasts so utility companies can reliably meet shifting demand.


Such "Big Data" problems change how we approach the management of solar and other smart energy systems.  Architectures are required that can provide high performance processing with the ability to manage large amounts of analog data.  In terms of processing capacity, real-time analytics are needed to use collected data to full advantage.  Often these algorithms are compute-intensive, and a great variety of algorithms may be in use at any one time to support advanced capabilities such as early warning detection of disturbances and potential blackouts.  In addition, to gain insight into seasonal output and behaviors of users, past data records will need to be retrieved for analysis, increasing the capacity requirements of the system.

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Figure 1: The 3 Tiers of Big Data applications (source: National Instruments)


Big Data applications can be segmented into three tiers (see Figure 1).  At the edge, Tier 1 sensors collect data.  Tier 2 networked nodes convert this analog data to a digital format, process early analytics, and forward data to Tier 3 servers in the IT infrastructure for more advanced analysis.  Ideally, end-to-end solutions are required that can seamlessly interface data between the tiers.


National Instruments (NI) offers Intel-based platforms to enable organizations to address the five “V”s — volume, variety, velocity, value, and visibility — of Big Data applications.  Because accuracy and timely monitoring are critical, especially when data are voluminous and geographically dispersed, sophisticated solutions are required.


To assist with Tier 2 processing, NI offers its CompactRIO and PXI systems controlled by either a PC or custom embedded control module.  The NI CompactRIO is a rugged, programmable automation controller based on the Intel® Core™ processor with reconfigurable chassis, user-programmable FPGA, and hot-swappable I/O modules.  Its flexible architecture provides the performance required for advanced control applications, high-speed data transfer and logging, and processor-intensive analysis.


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Figure 2: NI’s CompactRIO and PXI Systems, with LabVIEW software, provide data acquisition and analysis for Big Data applications like solar and smart energy (Source: NI)


The NI PXI system is an open platform for test, measurement, and control.  With specialized synchronization buses, high performance processing, and real-time measurement capabilities, the NI PXI system offers high bandwidth with low latency.  The system can be driven by a PC or by embedded control modules based on the Intel® Atom™ and Intel® Core™ processors.  I/O modules are available from over 70 vendors, providing the flexibility to support I/O from high-resolution DC to 6 GHz RF.


Both platforms are supported by a variety of software tools, including NI’s graphical LabVIEW system design software.  Using C or VHDL, LabVIEW abstracts the complexity of programming FPGA resources for real-time processing of digitized signals at the point of capture.  LabVIEW also targets the Intel architecture controller to perform visualization as well as in-motion and early life analytics.  Key features of LabVIEW include its high level of integration with NI’s hardware platforms, unique graphical programming environment, data analysis and visualization capabilities, and built-in application-specific libraries for software functionality and hardware interfaces.


The Intel® architecture is ideally suited for meeting the requirements of Big Data applications.  With their multi-core capabilities, the Intel Atom and Core processors provide the performance needed for real-time analytics in a flexible and power efficient manner.  Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT), combined with integrated advanced graphics engines, enables complex visualization of data as well as supports multiple OSes running on the same hardware platform.  Data management is also simplified through close collaboration between NI and Intel, as well as a wide range of other industry leaders, resulting in a vast ecosystem of solutions, software, and tools that enable robust Big Data processing across all three tiers.


Another aspect of Big Data systems is that they commonly aggregate many data channels, thus management features such as discovery, status, update, security, diagnostics, and calibration are required to reduce risk when integrating the NI CompactRIO and PXI system with Tier 3 IT infrastructure.  The Intel architecture helps facilitate integration through reliability, availability, serviceability, and manageability (RASM) features in both hardware and software.  These RASM features improve overall efficiency by enabling advanced functionality including remote monitoring, separation of critical tasks from other applications through virtualization, trusted execution to prevent unauthorized software from running, secure boot technology, accelerated cryptographic capabilities, and memory interfaces with error correcting code (ECC) for greater data reliability.


The magnitude of Big Data applications requires engineers to approach data acquisition and analysis in new ways.  With the right hardware and software tools, solar and other smart energy applications can leverage the vast amount of data available to achieve the highest efficiency.


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National Instruments is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.



Nicholas Cravotta

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

In the consumer electronics world, the interconnection of devices is known as the Internet of Things.  In public transportation applications, this trend of interconnection is also known as the Smart City.  Within the Smart City, vehicles are connected to the city’s infrastructure.  This enables new capabilities, everything from updating bus schedules on the fly to enabling traffic lights to recognize approaching emergency vehicles.


The Smart City is leading to the evolution of public transportation vehicles around the world, including busses, metro trains, and even taxis.  A key component of this evolution is digital signage.  Digital signage serves as the interface between the Smart City and people to enable greater safety, more convenience, and access to data to ease the burden of travel.  For example, digital signage can provide information that can makes traveler’s lives easier, such as by posting weather reports and revised schedules.  Riders can also be advised of issues that affect their safety.  And then there is the growing infotainment market which can help passengers utilize their commute time better by providing information and entertainment they find valuable.

Implementing digital signage in a moving vehicle presents a very different set of challenges compared to signage that is permanently installed in an office or outdoors:


Temperature: The same vehicle may be deployed in different countries where the temperature can range from very cold to hot.  Thus, the same hardware must be able to operate reliably under either temperature extreme.  Achieving this level of robustness used to require substantial engineering resources.  With the latest processor technologies from Intel®, achieving extended temperature operation is greatly simplified and improves overall system reliability.


Power: The power provided from a vehicle’s battery is neither stable nor clean.  The platform needs to be able to handle everything from when the voltage spikes as the vehicle is started to the noise coupled to the supply from all of the other subsystems drawing power in the vehicle.


Communications: A communications link is essential if signage is to display real-time information such as changes in schedules or the latest news.  Since vehicles can’t tap into a wired infrastructure like fixed installations can, reliable wireless connectivity is crucial.  The ideal wireless link varies based on the region and public transportation authority.  Both 3G and 4G LT are mainstream technologies, with LTE gaining traction.  A configurable platform provides the most flexibility through communication modules that allow OEMs to easily change out the radio to match the wireless technology required.  The Intel® Atom™ processor and Intel® Core™ i5 and i7 processors simplify implementing a wireless infrastructure, making it practical to interchange different communications modules.  In addition, Wi-Fi access can be extended to travelers to provide addition value.


Ambient Light: There can be a wide range of ambient light conditions in a vehicle, both fast changing (such as when the vehicle turns directly into the sun) and slow changing (such as the shift from day to night).  A display that provides excellent viewing under all of these conditions, as well as from different angles, is critical for signage to be convenient for passengers to use.


Vibration and Shock: Digital signage equipment must be designed to withstand both vibrations caused by constant vehicle motion and occasional shock such as during an abrupt stop.


Holding the attention of passengers is another key challenge in public transportation.  With an office or outdoor sign, the challenge is to grab a person’s attention as they are passing by to view a message, such as an advertisement.  In a vehicle, the audience is captive, not just for the next 20 minutes but day after day.  However, this actually makes it harder to hold their attention.  If content is uninteresting, presented with substandard graphics, or repeats too often, passengers will quickly learn to ignore signage.  This not only reduces the usefulness of providing signage to passengers for their information and convenience, it can erode ad revenue.

One of the key tools in helping attract and hold the attention of travelers is content rendering.  The computing power of the Intel Atom processor, for example, is enough to manipulate sophisticated content that combines real-time 3D graphics and multimedia content.  For applications requiring more functionality, platforms can be based on the Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.  For example, the latest trend in digital signage is to get viewers involved through interactive applications.  The result is the ability to create an engaging experience for passengers with the right content and mood as they travel to their destination.

Another advanced feature that provides high value in public transportation is intelligent surveillance.  By connecting in-vehicle cameras to the computing system, numerous tasks can be automated, thus freeing the driver to concentrate on driving.  For example, the vehicle could count how many people are currently riding by tracking how many people get on and off through each of the vehicle’s doors.  Similarly, if an incident occurs, such as someone falling down, the system could identify the event and alert the driver.  Intelligent surveillance is an important technology in increasing both rider and driver safety.

To help OEMs overcome the challenge of designing their own digital signage system and get to market faster and more cost-effectively, Nexcom offers its VTC family of vehicle terminals and NDiS series of standalone digital signage systems suitable for in-vehicle use.  The VTC 1010, for example, provides the performance, reliability and scalability required to build a connected vehicle with real-time voice and data communication, vehicle tracking and navigation, remote diagnostics, mobile video surveillance, and in-vehicle infotainment. 

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Figure 1. The VTC 1010 in-vehicle computer (Source: Nexcom)

Based on the Intel Atom processor, the VTC 1010 offers significant improvements in computing performance as well as graphics and media capabilities with its integrated Intel Gen 7 Graphics. This enables the VTC 1010 to address different computing needs while providing stereoscopic 3D and full HD video playback capabilities to enhance the in-vehicle infotainment experience. Dual SIM sockets allow seamless switching between different carrier networks to minimize roaming cost, and four mini-PCIe slots can be configured with dual WWAN modules to double the bandwidth of the cellular connection while still allowing expansion for WLAN and PAN connections.


To adapt to the harsh power supply conditions within vehicles, the VTC 1010 features built-in power ignition on/off delay control and low voltage detection. To withstand the rigors of shock and vibration in transportation and provide reliable operation, the VTC 1010 is compliant to MIL-STD-810G and e13 certification.  Furthermore, the system-on-chip (SoC) architecture of the Intel Atom processor allows the VTC 1010 to achieve a fanless design with a wide operating temperature range of -30 to 70 degrees Celsius and a compact form factor for use in harsh vehicle environments.

To match the varying performance and range of capabilities required by different applications, Nexcom offers computing platforms based on the Intel Atom processor and Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.  Nexcom also offers a starter key to enable manufacturers to quickly begin exploring digital signage technology and how it can be integrated into their own vehicles.

Another feature of the VTC 7100 family is that it exploits the Intel architecture to enable full integration of digital signage with other vehicle tasks.  This enables OEMs to create all-in-one systems that combine message board and multimedia content management with a vehicle’s payment, navigation/positioning, and surveillance systems.  Other processors have difficulty handling this combination of capabilities.  With the Intel architecture, everything can be managed on a single platform.

It’s worth noting that many of the advances in public transportation can also be implemented in commercial transportation applications, such as dispatch and freight vehicles.  Because commercial vehicles don’t carry passengers, digital signage plays a completely different role that is often classified as navigation functionality.  In truth, similar architectures and hardware are used for commercial vehicles.  It may be worth looking at public transportation technology for commercial applications given the increasing convergence that arises as the Smart City becomes reality.



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Nexcom is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.


Nicholas Cravotta

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

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