The embedded Device Developers’ Conference, is now in its fifth year in its current guise, though you can trace the show back 14 years to its original roots as an embedded masterclass. To improve accessibility to today’s ever-busy embedded engineers, the event is effectively a road show, stopping in four key cities along the length and breadth of the UK. A purposefully small-scale show with around 30 exhibitors, when combined with carefully selected venues the Device Developers’ Conference offers a relaxed intimacy rarely seen today that encourages in depth networking between supplier/customer and indeed between complementary and even competing suppliers alike. You’d be forgiven for thinking the exhibition area was the event’s key focus, in fact the event is built around 14 embedded application presentations crammed into a single day, of which nearly 50 percent of the exhibitors are an active part of. Whilst such events naturally have far lower footfall than larger exhibitions, you can’t help but wonder if the opportunity to build such relationships through luxuriating networking actually translate to a better ROI vs the fast paced brief contact windows available at larger shows.
I attended the Cambridge leg of the tour, a location selected purposefully due to its proximity to Cambridge University, a locality with a large number of technology start-ups spun from the institution. I met with Undo Software, a company relatively new to the embedded scene and attempting to fill the gap in the Linux and Android software debugging market – their Live Recorder tool specifically designed to operate as a DLL alongside application code customers are running, recording any bugs thus enabling instant replication without the necessity of site visits nor manually attempting to mirror image the execution scenario.
IES Intelligent Embedded Solutions were showcasing their Heracles Cortex-A8 SBC, designed to offer both a low-cost development platform and a “reverse design” approach to achieving a final production unit, by the removal of functional blocks of circuitry and components to reduce overall BOM cost, but without necessitating NRE charges, be that design or (re)tooling.
The cost of software piracy was valued in 2010 at just short of $60 billion, whilst it’s an unenviable task attempting to control end-user piracy, preventing IP theft at the source is a little easier to control. Helix Threat Detection, an important tool within Perforce Software’s Helix suite, is integrated within their version control software to monitor users accessing confidential IP for purposes of industrial espionage.
What I initially thought was a miniature demonstration of autonomous self-driving vehicles was actually an illustration of dynamic and flexible software licensing. SafeNet presented the ability to activate varying quantities of vehicles and at various speeds, based on the user funding different licensing levels. Of course this is far from a likely real world application, but the ability to dynamically and flexible adjust functionality within a static product negates the need to have different versions of a product and allows the user to make decisions about required functionality at any point and any number of times throughout the life cycle of a product. This prevents over-spending on functionality that may later be required, or the opposite of underspecifying what later will become a key feature. To the manufacturer, this opens up ongoing revenue streams, made possible in the instant electronic payment age which SafeNet are inherently involved in – they term this ability “Software Monetization”.
The show provides a platform for manufacturers to properly explain their solutions beyond the instant gratification need of attendees to exhibitions they’ll struggle to fully encompass in the single day they can usually permit to attend. The feedback from this year’s show is very positive and the event will be one to watch in the future, though it must remember to stay true to its roots and what makes it the event that it is.