Over the last couple of years, I have been working on helping embedded device creators accelerate their embedded device development strategy. I’ve seen the challenges product managers face and we’ve worked together to find solutions that have enabled them to reduce their overhead, future-proof their platform and their strategy.
We see that unlike smartphones, which sells in millions, most embedded products such as ECG machines, PoS machines, Laboratory and Test equipment, Ticket vending machines, etc. have low sales volume. Furthermore, the product life of embedded devices ranges to 7+ years in contrast to the 15-18 months life for smartphones. Due to this limited sales volume and long product life, custom or chip-based development of embedded devices adds significant overheads in terms of supply chain inefficiencies, platform obsolescence, non-optimal cost structure, and barriers to adopt latest technologies. Read more on this, here.
Our team at Toradex, see opportunities of how you can leverage the synergies between such a platform as Toradex and a development framework like Qt to accelerate your product development.
A key starting aspect of this is to choose a compact platform that offers application-agnostic hardware and software. Irrespective of whether you are building a ECG machine or a home-automation device, the application-agnostic part remains same. I believe that OEMs and system designers should focus more on enhancing end-user experience and product differentiation, rather than spending effort on essential design commodities. By using an off-the-shelf platform like our System on Module (SOM), a.k.a. Computer on Module (COM), you can easily reduce your time-to-market by 8-10 months along with reduction in development cost and risk.
Addressing supply chain inefficiencies
Component obsolescence leads to platform redesign and in turn, adds cost and resource effort. Finding a platform vendor that engages in large volume business with the leading SoC and memory vendors in the market will quickly reduce your costs, as the former gets better pricing deals. We do this for you at Toradex. We also mitigate the risk of component obsolescence with guaranteed SOM availability for more than 10 years.
Mitigating platform obsolescence
With Moore’s Law in action, the silicon components keep on maturing with smaller size, power efficiency and lower price. Customers’ demands for high performance and power-efficient products leads to frequent redesigns of the platform to accommodate latest technologies. However, such redesigns add to cost, thus compromise profits. With our pin-compatible SOMs, for example, upgrading a platform is as easy as plug-and-play. New SOMs can be attached to existing carrier boards with very less software changes. Thus, your platform remains future-proof.
Amortizing high NRE cost
Embedded product development involves high NRE cost. The high NRE cost is amortized over low sales volume, thus leading to non-optimal cost structure for the OEMs. Consequently, it’s imperative that you finds ways to reduce your development risk and decrease development time. You can achieve this by using an off-the-shelf platform, which is optimized for power efficiency and performance. At Toradex, we do this by carrying out in-house development of hardware and software. Our platforms are stress-tested in field conditions by numerous existing customers, resulting in a robust and mature platform. This way your project is mostly limited to application development and integration, thus shrinking the NRE cost.
Avoiding barriers to adopt latest technologies
SOM vendors enable the penetration of leading technologies in embedded market, by engaging with market leaders of processors. Usually, leading SoC vendors prefer high volume businesses. Toradex offers SOMs based on leading processors: Freescale® Vybrid™, Freescale® i.MX 6 and NVIDIA® Tegra™. A new SOM based on Freescale® i.MX 7 will be available by Q1 2016.
Bringing this all together
Toradex pursues direct online sales with publicly disclosed pricing. We have local warehouses that guarantees ex-stock supply, along with in-house hardware and software development. We provide free tools and libraries including Qt of course, 10+ years product availability, and then to wrap it all up we offer free support in local language by the developers. More info on this, here
Toradex SOM and Qt
I spoke earlier of the importance of the application-agnostic part of your product by providing a scalable and compact platform. (You can easily get a compatible carrier board as per your application’s requirement, here.) Then comes the application software. Build your application using the awesome and exciting features of Qt. Qt is easily used on Toradex SOMs with our Apalis iMX6, Colibri iMX6, and Colibri VF61 & VF50 among the reference platforms available for Qt for Device Creation.
Want to learn more?
Let’s talk about how we at Toradex can help you in your next product development. Contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Guest Blogger: Prakash has over a decade of experience in engineering and marketing roles in the embedded industry and is currently a Product Manager at Toradex. He is passionate about exploring avenues on how to build products cost-effectively, without compromising on end-user experience.