Posts Tagged ‘user interface’

19 October, 2015

My latest article has been published:

The simplest possible UI

It is very easy to think that all embedded systems are complex devices, with powerful CPUs – maybe more than one – and a rich array of peripherals. This might include a display screen, on which extensive user information may be displayed. However, there are many systems that are the other end of the complexity scale. Deeply embedded systems typically have no user interface, which is a challenge to the software designer who needs to communicate some simple information to the user. A common solution is the provision of a simple LED indicator. This article reviews how such a humble “UI” can be used to good effect.

Of course, for many systems, something a little more sophisticated is required. A full UI needs rather more code and the UI solutions from Mentor Embedded give the opportunity to get to the market quickly.

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17 February, 2014

Embedded systems are evolving – that is blindingly obvious. But that does not just mean that we are finding more and more uses for smart devices. It also means that embedded applications, that have been around for some years, are becoming more sophisticated. A few examples: central heating controllers, intruder alarms, kitchen appliances, scientific and medical instruments … The list goes on.

The increased sophistication commonly occurs in two areas. The first is connectivity [networking]. The second, and often more challenging, one is the user interface [UI] … Read the rest of this entry »

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20 February, 2012

I have always thought that the user interface [UI] is the most interesting part of any software, as I have written before. I think this is true for desktop programs, hand-held device apps and embedded systems. It is, of course, the last of these which are of interest here.

It is easy to think of UIs as being flashy touch sensitive displays, like you can build with the Mentor Graphics Inflexion UI product, but that is only one example. I have been pondering something much simpler. Having been working in this field for 30 years or so, I guess it may be safely assumed that I eat, drink and sleep embedded software. Giving credence to this, I found myself thinking about an embedded system UI while I was brushing my teeth … Read the rest of this entry »

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5 September, 2011

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take a few snaps of my friends’ son, Archie. He was about 3 years old at the time. Archie is a child of the 21st Century and, as such, he knows a lot about embedded systems. He might not admit to this knowledge, but he has been surrounded by embedded systems from the day he was born. This experience has informed his expectations about the world in significant ways… Read the rest of this entry »

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29 November, 2010

Crystal ball gazing is a hazardous activity. However, this week I am going to take the risk. I have the honor of having been invited to present a keynote speech at a technical conference in Grenoble, France. Although I speak at conferences frequently, I normally have some constraints with the topic – normally I am presenting a paper, an abstract for which was submitted and accepted months before. On this occasion, I have much more of a free reign – I was just asked to say about something to do with embedded software.

With the end of the year fast approaching, I concluded that it might be interesting to look at the trends for the industry in 2011 and beyond … Read the rest of this entry »

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15 November, 2010

Last week I attended the ARM Technical Conference in Santa Clara, California. I am not sure how many years this event has been running, but it seems to be going from strength to strength. There was a change to the management company this year, but the event format was basically the same: a 3 day multiple-stream technical conference, with a selection of keynotes and an associated exhibition area.

Obviously, the key theme to the event is the discussion of all things ARM. I mentioned MIPS during one of my presentations, so I will probably not receive an invitation next year. The result of this starting point is the sessions offer coverage of hardware design issues, embedded software and everything in between. This suits Mentor very well, as we uniquely address that whole spectrum. Aside from this diversity of engineering expertise, there were some technical themes that really stood out this year … Read the rest of this entry »

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25 October, 2010

Last week, I attended the Embedded Conference Scandinavia in Stockholm. This event has been running for a few years now and I have been to it before. It seems to be gaining momentum. The show floor was well filled and there seemed to be a good flow of visitors. My colleagues, who were manning the booth, commented that they had had some good leads.

But I think that it is the technical conference sessions that really keep events like this on the map … Read the rest of this entry »

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19 July, 2010

I have always for medical electronics interesting and I have blogged about it from time to time [here and here, for example]. Part of the reason for my interest stems from an occasional feeling that so much of the electronics around me is ultimately pointless. Many Mentor Embedded customers are making consumer devices, cell phones and other gadgets. Do we really need all of these? Aren’t they really just toys – harmless toys, but toys nevertheless? [Except for my iPad, of course, which is a positive influence on my productivity and overall wellbeing.] Worse still, some customers are actually making weapons and they are not harmless at all!

However, we have many customers who make medical devices. I only have to look at a medical instrument and I have a warm feeling inside that maybe electronics can do some real good. The other aspect of medical instrumentation, that I find intriguing, is the extent to which its implementation clearly tracks the latest trends in embedded system development … Read the rest of this entry »

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23 March, 2010

I am very sceptical when I hear the term “graphical interface”. All too often I have been frustrated and irritated by a webpage with flashing, animated GIFs or by a “user friendly” interface on a device that takes for ever performing somersaults and cartwheels instead of letting me get on with the task in hand. Of course, these are examples of badly designed graphical interfaces. I would like to talk a little about how a good GUI might be designed and an application area where I feel good GUIs are really beneficial … Read the rest of this entry »

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6 July, 2009

I have just been taking a short vacation and, while we were away, we met up with some friends. Their son was very excited to be the owner of the very latest model of iPhone. He was very keen to show us all the cool features and how slick it was to operate. I liked his enthusiasm and I was impressed by the device. But somehow I had two simultaneous trains of thought. First, I concluded that the iPhone did not really have any capability that I did not already have in my aging Palm device. Second, I found myself desiring one of these things – the slick user interface was like a Siren’s call.

I am safe enough, as I write this I am in a little Cornish village. The only shops around here sell pasties and tourist tat – not an iPhone in sight. But it got me thinking about how critical the UI is for a device like this.

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