A number of efforts to leverage Google Inc's "Android," software for Google's open source project for mobile phones and other home information appliances, were introduced at the 12th Embedded Systems Expo.
The exhibition took place from May 13 to 15, 2009, at Tokyo Big Sight in Koto Ward, Tokyo, Japan.
ISB Corp demonstrated video file playback and Website browsing on a reference board equipped with Texas Instruments Inc's (TI) "OMAP3530" at its booth. The video on the display looked as if it was being played frame by frame due to the small number of frames. But this was because all of the display processing was being carried out by software alone, the company said.
ISB expects to enable smooth playback of HDTV video in the future by enhancing the software so that the hardware can handle the display processing.
Also, the company demonstrated wireless keyboard operation and music playback using its Android-based system that supports Bluetooth.
Fujitsu Software Technologies Ltd showcased an Android-based digital photo frame, navigation system and digital signage device at its booth. The digital photo frame can switch images on the display via a network using the existing DLNA middleware ported to Android.
The navigation system was realized by using a network cloud service for map data and route computation, making the most of Android's high affinity with networks. The company could prepared the demonstrated device in about two weeks. It is because the terminal side needed only an application to transmit data on starting points and destinations and to display the route guidance received from the server.
The digital signage device was a system based on Intel Corp's Atom processor. Fujitsu Software Technologies demonstrated simultaneous playback of multiple videos on Android. The device can reduce costs compared with existing systems based on Windows family platforms, the company said.
Ubiquitous Corp was playing a recorded terrestrial digital broadcast program received from a DLNA server, incorporating DTCP-IP on Android. With a reference board equipped with TI's "OMAP3," only encrypted DTCP-IP data was decoded on Android, and video was decoded on different hardware. The playback of the data transmitted from a DLNA server was smooth.
According to ISB, Android in embedded devices is beneficial in terms of both development and marketing. As for development, it lowers the hurdle to application development because expertise in Linux-based embedded device development can be utilized. This can lead to a large reduction in development costs as well, the company said.
As for marketing, it is possible to leverage applications and other achievements of development in the large Android market. Even though each market for STBs (set-top box) and car navigation systems, etc, is small, there is still an advantage because developers can become part of a larger market including home information appliances and mobile phones by using Android as their standard platform, ISB said.
The movement of employing Android for embedded devices other than mobile phones is likely to spread from now on.