The design of embedded systems requires a variety of skills: knowledge of electronic components, electronic design, embedded operating system and software development, and system integration. Today’s rapidly evolving technologies offer new solutions, but at the same time growing competition in this field calls for increased efficiency and reduced costs.
Companies – and especially SMEs – are finding it more and more difficult to monitor all the latest technological developments and smoothly integrate them into an optimised solution. The ECS department has developed extensive expertise in emerging technologies for embedded and communication systems in a wide range of applications. It has studied several development platforms for accelerating the creation of prototypes, based on different types of microprocessors or microcontrollers. In the embedded world, many interfaces exist, in terms of communication standards and industrial busses. The department has also studied the interfaces involved in road transportation, thanks to several research projects: CAN/FMS, interfaces with tachygraphs, GPS, etc. This expertise has made itpossible to build a research platform for evaluating the capabilities ofthe applications embedded in lorries, for example.
User interfaces in embedded systems have very specific requirements. They must be simple and there are constraints in their design that must be respected – small LCDs or screens, a limited number of buttons, the basic packaging for industrial applications, etc. CETIC explores ergonomic end-user interfaces for industrial systems, as well as interfaces for specific uses, like eHealth systems for use by the elderly.
CETIC also sets up demonstrations to show that these efficient solutions are applicable to industrial problems. In specific cases, configurable electronic circuits (FPGA, PSoC) can greatly improve the flexibility and the time-to-design for advanced proofs-of-concept. CETIC has mastered the full range of expertise (electronic design, including VHDL, the use of softcores and the development of embedded software) and transfers it to SMEs.
Development of Embedded Systems (hardware/software/wireless communications)
- Requirements engineering. We offer support in defining requirements and specifications for embedded systems, including user interfaces.
- System design. We offer support on the following aspects of the design of innovative systems:
- Hardware: analysis and selection of components and architectures (e.g. selection of microcontrollers/FPGAs/DSPs, evaluation and selection of IP blocks), simulation (e.g. VHDL);
- Software: selection of libraries, modelling and simulation;
- Wireless communications, including wireless sensor networks: selection of components and technologies.
- Prototyping. We build prototypes of embedded systems, including:
- Hardware: VHDL design and development, PCB design;
- Software, including real-time aspects;
- Human-machine interfaces (HMI/GUI): development of interfaces adapted to specific user needs.
- Test and validation. We offer support (methodologies and tools) for test automation and test completeness.
- Transfer of the know-how involved, including source code and hardware description files.
- Audits of methods, products and tools for embedded systems.
- Internal: We carry out audits on a company’s methods, products and tools, including quality audits (e.g. quality of source code), certification support (e.g. DO 178B).
- External: We analyse solutions available on the market and help select those that meet a company’s needs (e.g. test tools, design methodologies, etc.).
- Third-party status. We take the role of independent and trustworthy partner in a customer-supplier relationship in:
- Analysing calls for tender;
- Assisting IT project owners;
- Auditing technical content of Escrow (protection of IT project sources).