IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

VDC Cocktail Event at Mobile World Congress 2017

by VDC Research | 12/22/2016

Meet with our team of IoT and Enterprise Mobility analysts and executives to learn about our key research findings, current offerings, and upcoming initiatives, as well as network with other technology stakeholders. We’ll cover some of the latest technology trends we are following. Space is limited, so please REGISTER NOW to attend. Learn more

GE Minds + Machines 2016: Checking in on GE’s Progress Towards “Digital Industrial”

by Roy Murdock | 11/22/2016

GE brought together a wide range of software, hardware, systems integrators, and industrial companies in San Francisco this past week for its fifth annual Minds + Machines summit. Over 2,700 attendees mingled inside a spacious, restored warehouse on Pier 48 overlooking the bay – a fitting location for a company intent on transforming itself into a “Digital Industrial.” Read more

High Risk, High Reward Qualcomm Takeover of NXP

by Daniel Mandell | 11/04/2016

The embedded processor space continues to see rapid consolidation seemingly quarter after quarter. Last week, Qualcomm propelled itself to the forefront of a number of new industries with the $47B acquisition of NXP – the largest acquisition in the semiconductor market’s history. The leading driver for the acquisition is the rich growth prospects of the automotive market and the (Industrial) Internet of Things. From a sheer sense of scale, Qualcomm is taking on a company with more employees, products, and customers than itself. Read more

Key Takeaways from ARM TechCon 2016 – Part 2

by Daniel Mandell | 11/03/2016

In part 2 of our ARM TechCon recap (See Part 1 here), we will see how new embedded development solutions for system-on-chips and connectivity are lowering the hurdles for OEMs and engineers. We will also illustrate the importance of the automotive (IoT) market looking forward. As Embedded Processors Become Platforms of Integration, Engineering Focus Turns Towards Simplifying Development - System-on-chips have become extremely complex given the increasing number of integrations at play between hardware/cores and software stack elements. Read more

Key Takeaways from ARM TechCon 2016 – Part 1

by Daniel Mandell | 11/02/2016

Much of the ARM ecosystem came together last week in Santa Clara for the annual ARM TechCon conference where industry leaders like to launch and showcase their new IoT and embedded technology solutions. This year’s conference featured no shortage of interesting and innovative developments from organizations both new and old. ARM itself announced its entrance into the cloud-based SaaS market with secure device management for mbed Cloud developers, launched the first ARMv8-M cores (the M33 and M23), expanded its Cordio radio IP, and extended its TrustZone security features beyond the processor core with the CoreLink SSE-200 subsystem IP. Looking back, there were 6 key themes that stuck out in our discussions with various vendors and partners at the event. Our key takeaways from the event include… Read more

Why did Silicon Labs Acquire RTOS Vendor Micrium? Think IoT-focused MCUs.

by Roy Murdock | 10/04/2016

Silicon Labs announced its acquisition of Micrium yesterday. While we had anticipated Micrium’s acquisition for quite some time, given the shrinking pool of commercial competitors in the MCU-targeted real-time operating system (RTOS) space, we were surprised to see Silicon Labs as the eventual acquirer, given how well Micrium could have integrated into various major IoT portfolios. In this blog we discuss why this acquisition makes sense from both companies’ perspectives, and how it will enable them to break out of their respective stagnating market segments. Read more

The IoT & Embedded Technology Beat: with Antony Passemard of AWS IoT

by Roy Murdock | 09/16/2016

This interview is part of an ongoing series VDC conducts with IoT and embedded software solution providers to share views on their company, products, and state of the market. Antony Passemard leads the strategic product management efforts for AWS IoT at Amazon Web Services. Read more

Intel’s McAfee Spin-Off: What’s it Mean for IoT Security?

by Steve Hoffenberg | 09/13/2016

As has been widely reported, Intel is planning to spin off its Intel Security business unit formerly and soon again to be known as McAfee. The spin-off will be a private company valued at approximately $4.2B, of which 49% will be held by Intel and 51% by asset management firm TPG. Read more

Shopping with IoT: Retailers Leverage New Technology to Restock and Reshelve

by Roy Murdock | 08/24/2016

As the Internet of Things continues to revolutionize the way we interact with the devices around us, some of the most forward-thinking organizations are taking note of the many ways in which the IoT can be effectively used to change the consumer experience. Major retailers are working with vendors, such as Intel and Panasonic, to tackle the competitive pressures of the ever-changing retail industry. With new IoT devices that can track inventory across the supply chain, connect the backroom to store shelves, and deliver personalized in-store assistance to customers, retailers are finding opportunities for growth by utilizing new data flows. Read more

Hyperledger: How Blockchain and IoT Can Work Together

by Steve Hoffenberg | 08/08/2016

The Hyperledger Project is a collaborative, open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation. The project aims to apply the blockchain concept to transactional markets other than cryptocurrencies. Started in 2015 and currently comprised of 61 members, it is a relatively new initiative that has gained a lot of industry support in advancing blockchain technology. The Hyperledger Project is made up of different codebases donated to the Linux Foundation. Read more

The IoT & Embedded Technology Beat: with Quentin Ochem of AdaCore (Part 2)

by Andre Girard | 07/06/2016

This interview is part of an ongoing series VDC conducts with IoT and embedded software solution providers to share views on their company, products, and state of the market. In part two, Quentin Ochem of AdaCore provides insights into how he sees the Ada market evolving. Read more

The IoT & Embedded Technology Beat: with Quentin Ochem of AdaCore (Part 1)

by Andre Girard | 07/05/2016

This interview is part of an ongoing series VDC conducts with IoT and embedded software solution providers to share views on their company, products, and state of the market. In part one, Quentin Ochem of AdaCore explains that reports of Ada’s death are greatly exaggerated. Read more

Wearable Technologies Pave the Way to Rio Olympics

by Steve Hoffenberg | 06/30/2016

With the 2016 Olympic Games set to begin in Rio de Janeiro in August, many athletes have begun to promote the latest and most advanced wearable technologies they have used in preparation for the event. From the US Cycling team to the South African Track and Field team, elite athletes have integrated wearable technologies into their training plan to gain a competitive edge. Read more

The IoT & Embedded Technology Beat: Q&A with Jim McElroy from LDRA Technology (Part 2)

by Andre Girard | 06/24/2016

This interview is part of an ongoing series VDC conducts with IoT and embedded software solution providers to share views on their company, products, and state of the market. Read more

The IoT & Embedded Technology Beat: Q&A with Jim McElroy from LDRA Technology (Part 1)

by Andre Girard | 06/23/2016

This interview is part of an ongoing series VDC conducts with IoT and embedded software solution providers to share views on their company, products, and state of the market. Read more

FPGA 101: Understanding What’s Behind the Gate

by Daniel Mandell | 06/17/2016

As field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) diversify into new markets and become easier to develop with, the broader embedded community should understand the basics of the processing technology. Introduced to the market in 1985 by Xilinix, FPGAs first offered a flexible alternative to application specific integrated circuits (ASICs). The main distinguishing factor of FGPAs is that they are field-programmable which means they can be programmed by the end user to meet specific needs (during prototyping, post-deployment, etc.). Read more

Agile in Embedded: Opportunity for Vendors to Target this Specific Need (Part 2)

by Andre Girard | 06/17/2016

Just as embedded engineering organizations were slow to adopt new methods, so too have tool suppliers been slow to adapt to changing practices in embedded development. With limited options, many in the large and growing population of system developers using Agile either apply their incumbent lifecycle management tools in support of new practices OR employ tools designed for Agile development in IT to address the specific needs of the embedded realm. Read more

Agile in Embedded: The Challenges Behind and Potential Ahead (Part 1)

by Andre Girard | 06/16/2016

Agile and product manufacturing have a long and somewhat contentious relationship. Lean manufacturing practices and the Toyota Production System are often viewed as the initial inspiration for the Agile software development manifesto. The speed and quality improvements of early Agile teams quickly lead to widespread use of iterative practices in the enterprise/IT software development market but embrace of the methodology for product, or even systems, development could certainly not be called rapid. Read more

PTC LiveWorx 2016: Friend or foe?

by Roy Murdock | 06/10/2016

VDC recently had the pleasure of attending PTC’s flagship LiveWorx 2016 event, which has become one of the largest and most highly-anticipated IoT conferences in the greater Boston area. The 3-day event took place from Monday June 6th to Wednesday June 8th in the Boston Convention center, and featured a wide range of notable speakers, such as... Read more

IBM’s Watson Answers the Question, “What’s the Difference Between Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing?”

by Steve Hoffenberg | 05/24/2016

Prime time television viewers have undoubtedly noticed the slew of recent commercials featuring IBM’s Watson computing platform in conversation with celebrities such as Bob Dylan, Carrie Fisher, Serena Williams, and Stephen King. These ads showcase continuing advances in Watson’s speech capabilities and intelligence applied to various disciplines, which were initially exhibited in Watson’s championship performance on the Jeopardy! game show back in 2011. Read more

AWS IoT Forging Ahead with Long List of New Features

by Roy Murdock | 05/13/2016

The AWS IoT team has been remarkably busy over the past few months. Antony Passemard, Head of Product Management at AWS IoT, sat down with me yesterday to discuss AWS IoT’s latest enhancements. The following list of recently-added capabilities and features paints a clear picture of the pressing issues faced by cloud platform providers and their customers. Read more

AWS IoT Vs. Azure IoT Hub: Whitepaper Download

by Roy Murdock | 05/09/2016

In a recent VDC View that is now available for public download, we compared and contrasted the two recently-launched IoT offerings from Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure: AWS IoT and Azure IoT Hub. Read more

OEMs “Get It”: Realize the Need for Formal Tooling

by Andre Girard | 04/26/2016

The arrival of the Hanover Fair (Hannover Messe) on the calendar encouraged us to reflect back on our recent trip to Germany to attend the Embedded World 2016 Exhibition & Conference. One of the themes the IoT & Embedded Technology practice heard several times in conversations with vendors was how more and more embedded engineering organizations finally “get it.” The awareness to which these conversations refer is the growing realization by OEMs, especially those in safety-critical industries, that commercially provided software and system development tools are necessary investments. Read more

Embedded Linux is All Grown Up

by Roy Murdock | 04/14/2016

Ten years ago, most embedded engineers would not have considered using Linux in any system other than a desktop PC or a web server. How could any respectable developer think of putting a free, open source operating system in charge of a resource-constrained, low-error-tolerance machine? Furthermore, how could one trust that Linux would continue to be supported and developed over the long lifetimes of many embedded devices? Read more

“Hard Problems” the Focus of MIT Connected Things 2016 Conference

by Roy Murdock | 04/12/2016

VDC found itself back in Cambridge at the Connected Things 2016 Conference last Tuesday, organized by the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge. The pragmatic IoT verticals – industrial, medical, and public sector – were a large focus of the conference, with MIT scientists and professors contributing a healthy dollop of academia and high-level thinking as a counterbalance. Senior leaders from IBM, PTC, Ericsson, Analog Devices, New Balance, Air Canada, the cities of New Bedford (MA) and New Haven (CT), and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were among those who presented or participated in panels throughout the day. Here are a few key takeaways from the conference. Read more

The Greatest Benefit of Arynga Acquisition by Intel’s Wind River

by Steve Hoffenberg | 04/08/2016

Intel’s Wind River subsidiary announced on April 4 that it had acquired Arynga, a provider of software management solutions for secure wireless over-the-air (OTA) updating of software and firmware in the automotive market. See the press release here. (On April 5, Intel also announced the acquisition of Yogitech, which offers functional safety features and IP for semiconductors used in automotive and other safety-critical markets, although we won’t delve into Yogitech in this blog post.) Interestingly, the initial seed funding for Arynga was $250K in 2012 from Qualcomm Labs, the incubation subsidiary of Intel’s chip rival Qualcomm. Read more

Security of Things Hackathon

by Roy Murdock | 03/09/2016

Fresh on the heels of successful adventures in Spain (MWC), Germany (embedded world), and San Francisco (RSA), VDC found itself a bit closer to home last weekend at the MIT-hosted Security of Things conference and hackathon. A wide range of programmers, academics, IT professionals, researchers, engineers, and students gathered in the gleaming glass and steel atrium of the MIT Media Lab in order to talk, eat, joke, learn, and hack. The goal of the event? To promote awareness of common IoT threats, review tools for building more secure, transparent devices, and walk through the (surprisingly simple) process of compromising devices that are used in millions of homes today. Read more

IoT Hot Selling Point, Data Less Relevant to Consumer Electronics Manufacturers

by Roy Murdock | 03/07/2016

Embedded engineers within the consumer electronics industry are excited about the IoT. Why? “Sell more products because they are IoT ready” and “Charge a higher premium for our products” are the two main reasons according to VDC Research’s 2015 engineer survey. Consumer electronics makers want to move more units at a higher price due to the allure and novelty of connected devices. Survey data reveals the perception among engineers that the IoT is a great marketing tool when selling products such as smart watches, fitness trackers, connected TVs, and smart home security systems in the consumer market. Read more

MWC2016 (Part 3): Gateways, Programmable Fabrics, and Servers

by Daniel Mandell | 03/04/2016

Over three days (and several miles of walking), it became apparent to me that Mobile World Congress represents much more than the name implies. Mobility has become an integral part in how much of today’s businesses operate and that notion stretches from sophisticated enterprise infrastructures down to the embedded market. There might not be a name that truly captures the magnitude of the technologies being displayed and launched at this event each year. Read more

MWC2016 (Part 2): Graphics, Cars, and Communications

by Daniel Mandell | 03/03/2016

In our second installment, we look back at our time at MWC2016 with a different group of leading IoT and embedded technology providers. Enabling mobile computing is no longer revolutionary – quite the contrary actually as it has become table stakes in a number of vertical markets. However, the efficiency and functionality of mobile computing systems particularly in industries like automotive is still very much a common battleground for competing architectures and vendors. Also in full swing is the development of new wireless infrastructure and technologies to meet the accelerating demand of mobile end users and IoT deployments. Read more

Open Connectivity Foundation, Part 2: OCF’s IoTivity to Support AllJoyn, But Could it Also Support Google Weave?

by Steve Hoffenberg | 02/29/2016

As we noted in Part 1 of our post about the newly formed Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), Qualcomm has joined Intel, Microsoft, and numerous other technology vendors in support of the IoTivity framework for interoperability among IoT devices. Given that Qualcomm was the creator of the competing AllJoyn framework and founder of the AllSeen Alliance, this inevitably begs the question of the long term viability of AllJoyn. Read more

Open Connectivity Foundation, Part 1: Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm and Others Come to Terms on IoT Framework Licensing and Intellectual Property Rights

by Steve Hoffenberg | 02/26/2016

The announcement on February 19th of formation of the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) stirred up much interest among participants in the IoT market. The OCF is the successor organization to the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), essentially consisting of the existing OIC members (Cisco, General Electric, Intel, Samsung, and many more) plus new members Electrolux, Microsoft, and Qualcomm. The OIC has been the force behind the IoTivity framework for interoperability among IoT devices from different vendors, particularly in the smart home market. All three of those new OCF member companies are also board members of the AllSeen Alliance, proponent of the AllJoyn framework which is directly competitive with IoTivity. Read more

MWC2016 (Part 1): Mobile, IoT, and 5G

by Daniel Mandell | 02/25/2016

After the first two (and a half) days, much has been abuzz at Mobile World Congress 2016. Essentially all of the new product announcements, demos, and keynotes highlight either mobile devices (obviously), IoT solutions, or 5G. Several of the leading IoT & embedded hardware players are out in force, showcasing new levels of performance, connectivity, integration, and software support. The following are some highlights from my time with various vendors so far. Read more

Enhancing IoT Security through Virtualization

by Roy Murdock | 02/12/2016

In the early days of computing, hardware limited software’s potential. Low memory density, simple processors, and slow clock rates enforced constraints on the possible range of instructions and the number of operands available to the software programmer, limiting software complexity and flexibility. Fast forward through 50 years of steady technological progress, and software has gained almost unlimited potential due to cheap, powerful commodity computing hardware .

Virtualization is the latest step in unleashing software’s full power, by abstracting it further from the hardware that runs it. We define virtualization to be a software-defined resource that is typically intended to mimic or replace a physical, hardware-defined resource. Read more

What’s in a (Processor) Name?

That which we call a system-on-chip by any other name would still feature broad I/O support, integrated memory, and heterogeneous processing.

by Daniel Mandell | 02/10/2016

Embedded processor taxonomies are evolving with the capabilities of the increasingly integrated and powerful technologies they define. The advent of heterogeneous processing architectures and continued miniaturization of chipsets has fueled the rapidly growing system-on-chip (SoC) market over the past five years at the expense of more traditional processor types like central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processors (GPUs). Microcontrollers (MCUs) continue to be a major part of the embedded processor market with even 8-bit devices still seeing strong use prompted by falling costs with little or no increases to MCU application requirements. As these various embedded processor types each assume more functionality and greater overall performance, the lines between them have blurred causing many to question: What’s the difference and does it matter what we call them? Read more

CES 2016, Part 3: Wireless IoT Technologies Proliferate

by Steve Hoffenberg | 01/13/2016

Another of the trends that stood out most to VDC at this year’s CES was the ubiquity of wireless technologies. It was rare that any connected product on display did not include wireless, the most prevalent types being Bluetooth Smart, Wi-Fi, and ZigBee.

Bluetooth Smart, also known as Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), is ideal for many wearable devices that will communicate with the user’s nearby smartphone. Wi-Fi is best for IoT devices in a home or small business environment, leveraging existing routers and networking for other PC and Internet communications. ZigBee is a short range mesh network with a communications protocol adopted by numerous device makers, primarily in the smart home market. But none of these technologies is suited to longer range communications required in many industrial, commercial, and government IoT applications. Fortunately, there is no shortage of alternatives that are well-suited, the two most widely known being the Low-Power Wide-Area Networking (LPWAN) technologies Sigfox and LoRa. Read more

CES 2016, Part 2: Automotive Technologies Move Forward

by Steve Hoffenberg | 01/12/2016

At this year’s CES, booths were brimming with IoT products such as home automation devices, connected audio and video gear, pet trackers, and fitness monitors. But one of the trends that stood out most to VDC was the prevalence of automotive technology, which came to the forefront as never before.

Two of the keynote speeches at CES featured heads of major carmakers. One of the keynotes was by Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, although more than half of her presentation was essentially a live infomercial for the 2017 Chevy Bolt all-electric vehicle, including a bit of a cheap-shot at Tesla—without mentioning that company by name—due to its lack of “neighborhood dealerships.” (Many consumers consider Tesla’s direct sales model to be a benefit over the traditional dealership business model.) Read more

CES 2016, Part 1: Drills, Holes, and Holemakers

by Steve Hoffenberg | 01/11/2016

Since long before the turn of the millennium, every January has brought to Las Vegas the humongous trade show and conference known as CES. Those three letters no longer officially stand for Consumer Electronics Show, but that’s how many people in the industry still refer to it. The very term “consumer electronics” is usually considered a category of devices, as in a department in retail stores where consumers buy their boxes of TVs, audio and video players, cameras, etc. But as the industry has evolved, more and more of the products have included (or in some cases wholly become) intangibles and/or services. In recognition of such trends, two months before this year’s show the organization behind CES, the Consumer Electronics Association, officially changed its name to the Consumer Technology Association. Although CTA says it has no plans to change the CES show name, the industry shift is evident. Read more

IoT Forcing Embedded Boards and Systems Vendors to Adapt to Survive

by Daniel Mandell | 01/05/2016

Emerging embedded hardware requirements are stirring up competition for motherboards and integrated systems while driving demand for more IoT-related systems integration services.

The global markets for embedded boards and integrated computer systems will see growing competition over the next five years, according to a new report by VDC Research (click here to learn more). The embedded hardware space is vast, continually evolving, and extremely fragmented with larger organizations often supplying several different board and/or system form factors as well as potentially a variety of SKUs featuring different configurations thereof. Systems integration services, in turn, are benefiting from the growing complexity of modern (connected) embedded systems and are seeing greater use for IoT designs. Read more