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QNX takes car instruments into connected future

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QNX Software has announced the latest addition to its portfolio of automotive safety products, the QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters.

Digital instrument clusters constitute one of the fastest-growing segments in automotive electronics. Using sophisticated 2D and 3D graphics, these devices can display traditional instrument cluster information, such as speed and RPM, as well as rich, context-sensitive information supplied by other vehicle subsystems, including turn-by-turn directions, local speed limits, rearview camera video and collision warnings. According to Strategy Analytics, the combined demand for hybrid and fully digital instrument clusters will increase from 8.7 million units in 2015 to 42.2 million by 2023.

With deployments in over 60 million cars, QNX has become the leading software supplier for vehicle infotainment systems. Since 2009, QNX technology has also been powering digital instrument clusters in vehicle brands such as Alfa Romeo, Audi, Corvette, Jaguar and Range Rover. The QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters builds on this expertise to help customers create cluster solutions that offer a superior user experience while satisfying stringent safety requirements.

With the new platform, QNX now offers a comprehensive solution for instrument cluster developers, which includes:

·         The QNX OS for Safety, an ISO 26262-certified OS and toolchain that supports all of the automotive safety integrity levels, from ASIL A to ASIL D, required for clusters and other critical vehicle systems

·         A 2D/3D graphics framework that is based on OpenGL and is set to be certified for use in clusters that comply with the ISO 26262 functional safety standard

·         A software framework that protects safety-critical cluster functions from interference by other software components, enabling greater reliability and easier system-level certification

·         A reference implementation, with source code, that gives developers a jumpstart on building fully digital instrument clusters

To pre-qualify the platform’s graphics framework to the ISO 26262 standard, QNX Software Systems is working closely with TÜV Rheinland, a world leader in functional safety assessments.

“We are seeing growing interest in ISO 26262, which has emerged worldwide as a leading standard for automotive functional safety, especially in the software domain,” said Heinz Gall, Head of the Functional Safety & Security Business Unit of TÜV Rheinland. “As a world leader in functional safety assessment, we support automotive companies to help them develop a safety culture and adopt best-in-class safety practices. The QNX Neutrino OS was the first realtime OS we assessed to ISO 26262 ASIL D as a Safety Element out of Context, and we will extend our collaboration with QNX Software Systems into the new domain of graphics software for instrument clusters.”

“QNX OS technology and i.MX applications processors from NXP offer a production-proven combination for digital instrument clusters. We are excited to support the QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters with our i.MX 6 series and future i.MX 8 series hardware platforms,” said Ron Martino, Vice President, i.MX Applications Processors and Advanced Technology Adoption, NXP Semiconductors. “Together, our offerings can address the safety-critical requirements of digital clusters, while offering bleeding-edge 3D and 2D graphics that enable unique driving experiences.”

To further accelerate development, the QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters will support application design tools from members of the QNX automotive ecosystem, such as Crank Software’s Storyboard Suite, DiSTI Corporation’s GL Studio, Elektrobit’s EB GUIDE, and Rightware’s Kanzi UI software. This rich selection of tools will enable customers to choose the UI technologies and design approaches that best address their project requirements.

“QNX has become an automotive leader by offering comprehensive, one-stop solutions that allow customers to focus on differentiation and time-to-market, rather than on low-level integration efforts,” said John Wall, Senior Vice President and Head of QNX Software Systems. “The new QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters brings this proven approach to the digital cluster market, enabling faster development and helping customers reduce the effort and risk of qualifying their end-products to safety standards such as ISO 26262.”

Availability

The QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters is scheduled to be available to select customers under an early access program, starting in August 2016.

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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