QNX 6.4.2 development has started. So what are you going to do about it?

QNX Software Systems has started development on version 6.4.2 of the QNX Neutrino RTOS and QNX Momentics Tool Suite. The planned feature set includes ARM Cortex A9 support, faster interrupt-to-thread latency on Power processors, and PPS.

But you know, folks, this isn't the old days, when you had to wait and see what the final product contained. You can now follow QNX product development in real time. In fact, you can participate in the development process. And you can start by visiting the 6.4.2 OS features wiki page.

Qt comes to QNX Neutrino RTOS

This just in: Qt Software today announced that a partially completed port of the Qt user interface framework is now available for the QNX Neutrino RTOS. A port for VxWorks was also announced.

According to a QT blog post, "Qt on QNX can run on its own, even without an X11 server, using the Qt Window System (QWS) that up until now has only been available on GNU/Linux."

The blog goes on to say that the ports are "community supported, so be prepared for messy moments." You gotta love these guys.

Here's the obligatory video:

To check out the press release, click here. To learn more about Qt, click here. For information on native graphics solutions for QNX Neutrino, click here.


Is Canon set to release an image-stabilized macro lens?

I'm an avid macro shooter. It doesn't matter if the subject is a bug, a flower, or a very small rock — if it's diminutive, I like to shoot it with a macro lens and make it big for everyone to see.

For most of my closeup shots, I use a Canon 100mm macro lens. But you know, ever since Nikon released an image-stabilized 100mm macro lens about 3 years ago, I've been wondering when Canon would rise to the challenge and come out with their own stabilized macro.

Looks like I won't have to wait long much longer. On July 22, Canon announced the "world's first optical image stabilization technology that compensates for both angle camera shake and shift camera shake."

Yeah, I know, that doesn't sound much like a macro lens. But a few sentences later, the press release states that this new technology "synthesizes information from the two sensors to make optimal adjustments, thereby dramatically enhancing the effects of image stabilization during shooting, including macro shooting, which had proven difficult for conventional image stabilization technologies" (emphasis mine).

The release also states that the technology will be featured in a "lens planned for commercial release before the end of 2009."

Well, if that doesn't mean Canon is releasing an image-stabilized macro lens before Christmas, I'm a monkey's uncle.

Guess what this monkey will asking Santa for this year...

To read the press release, click here.


Intel C++ Compiler 11.1 for QNX hits the streets

For anyone who wants to optimize the performance of their QNX Neutrino applications on Intel processors, Intel has just released version 11.1 of its C++ Compiler Professional Edition for the QNX Neutrino RTOS.

According to Intel, the compiler is validated for Windows XP hosts and includes the Intel Integrated Performance Primitives (Intel IPP) v6.1.1.044. These primitives provide optimized routines for multimedia, signal processing, and data communication.

The compiler, which integrates with the QNX Momentics IDE, offers a significant performance gain over the standard GCC compiler. Developers can download the Intel compiler free, with community support, from the Intel Web site. Commercial support is optional.

You can use the compiler with versions 6.4.0 and 6.4.1 of the QNX Neutrino RTOS and QNX Momentics IDE.

For information on the compiler, click here. For information on the QNX Momentics IDE, click here. For the forum post that announces the new release, click here.

ADDENDUM: Thanks to the persistance of "Stay" (see comments below), we now have a download URL for the compiler:


QNX supports video on TI OMAP 3530 Beagle board

A couple of weeks ago, QNX announced that its operating system and multimedia middleware now run on the OMAP35x EVM and on the 3530 BeagleBoard from Texas Instruments.

Well, I'm not sure who, but one of my QNX colleagues has dropped the other shoe and posted a video to demonstrate QNX's video support for the BeagleBoard:

If you posted the video and you're reading this, feel free to share what exactly is going on beneath the multimedia covers. :-) [POSTSCRIPT: See the comment that my colleague Kroy has posted.]


MTA chooses QNX for digital instrument clusters

I must admit, I had never heard of the MTA Group until a few weeks ago. But I have only my ignorance to blame. With branches in Italy, Brazil, Poland, Slovakia, and the USA, MTA is a truly international automotive supplier. And based on the latest edition of their customer newsletter, the MTA Journal, a diverse one as well. For example, the newsletter discusses how MTA has built:

  • dashboard clocks for Maserati coupes
  • power distribution boxes for TATA SUVs
  • control units for Piaggio scooters
  • module frames for CNH tractors
  • digital instrument clusters for Lamborghinis
One item in particular caught my eye: a sidebar on a new family of high-performance configurable displays (read "digital instrument clusters") that MTA is now developing.

According to the article, several of these clusters will be "based on the QNX Neutrino RTOS, a high reliability operating system used in automotive applications... MTA chose QNX Neutrino because of its extremely fast startup times, high-speed functionalities and support for graphics display controllers from Fujitsu Microelectronics Europe..."

For months now, I've been blathering on about how QNX provides an ideal platform for building digital instrument clusters, yadda, yadda, yadda. It's nice to see that someone who actually builds digital clusters agrees with me. :-)

To view a PDF of the latest MTA Journal, click here, then click on MTA journal N.6.


Meet Mabel, the QNX-based bipedal robot

Hey, have you ever noticed how researchers like to give their robots personal names? I've written about three QNX-based humanoid robots in this blog, and none of them has a technical appellation like RU-138B. Rather, they're called Cog, Kismet, and Hiro.

I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's because humans simply like to name things. Or maybe it's because giving a humanoid robot a personal name makes it less scary and more, well, human.

Whatever the reason, I've just come across another QNX robot, and guess what: it's called Mabel. Mabel isn't humanoid, but she is bipedal. More specifically, she is a “new platform for the study of bipedal locomotion in robots.”

A joint initiative between the U of Michigan and the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon, Mabel has three stated purposes: to explore a new powertrain design with the objective of improving power efficiency; to encourage development of new feedback control algorithms for running on level surfaces and walking on rough terrain; and to help promote science and technology to younger students.

QNX in control

To acquire data from sensors, compute control actions, and output commands to actuators, Mabel uses a QNX-based realtime computing and data acquisition (DAQ) environment. The software framework for the control system implementation is based on RHexLib, which was originally developed for RHex, another QNX-based robot.

To learn more about Mabel, check out the technical paper, "MABEL: A New Robotic Bipedal Walker and Runner."

BTW, the root for Mabel is amabilis, a Latin word for lovable. Kind of supports the name-your-robot-to-make-it-less-creepy theory, doesn't it? :-)


Hey Google, Chrome OS or cloud computing — what's it gonna be?

Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised. But I was. This morning, I woke to hear that Google has unveiled a new operating system — dubbed the Google Chrome OS — for netbooks, desktops, and other consumer-grade computers.

Isn't Google the same company that promotes cloud computing? You know, the paradigm that lets you access your applications and data anywhere, anytime, regardless of which operating system is running on your device? So why is Google creating yet another OS?

The folks at Google are unquestionably savvy. So I'm sure they've worked out the business case for the Chrome OS. But consider this: Twenty years ago, two OS providers, Apple and Microsoft, dominated the consumer PC market. And, despite some dips in Apple's marketshare (long since regained), the story hasn't changed much, aside from a relatively weak incursion by Linux.

So why does Google think they have a chance? And, given that developing an OS is a hugely expensive (and unending) project, how much will Google profit from the new Chrome OS? There's no question that Google has undertaken a major challenge — though, admittedly, they are one of the precious few companies who could pull it off.

What about you? Do you think (or hope) that Google can make a sizeable dent in the Apple/Microsoft hegemony? And if so, will that be a good thing for consumers?


Solar Impulse: QNX to play role in first round-the-world solar-powered flight

Quick, what’s 211 feet wide, weighs 3500 pounds, cruises at 45 mph, and runs on 11,000 voltaic cells?

Answer: The first solar-powered plane designed to circumnavigate the Earth.

I don’t have any details yet, but I've just learned that QNX is the realtime operating system provider for the Solar Impulse project, which intends to fly a solar plane around the world in 2012.

Earlier this month, the project team unveiled a test plane, dubbed the HB-SIA, near the city of Zurich. Using data gathered from the test flights, the team will create another iteration of the plane for the 2012 trip. That plane, the HB-SIB, will complete its round-the-world flight in five legs. (It would be impossible for a pilot to remain seated in the plane for the entire trip.)

It’s easy to dismiss such a grandiose project, but Bertrand Piccard, the plane’s creator and pilot, made the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight back in 1999. So he serious street cred. Also, judging by the sponsors — the Deutsche Banke, for example — the project has major financial support.

In fact, you can help support the project yourself, by “sponsoring” one of the plane’s voltaic cells. If you click here, you’ll see that cell number 1969 is sponsored by Buzz Aldrin, so you would be in good company. :-)

Interestingly, the Solar Impulse team states that the project is largely symbolic, created to promote greater use of renewable energy. Speaking to a reporter, Piccard said, "Solar Impulse is being developed primarily to change the energy consumption philosophy. We want [everyone] to understand that the renewable energy sources can be used quite effectively."

That said, Piccard is also on record as saying that some of technology developed for the plane could have commercial applications.

More on this story as I uncover details about QNX's role in the Solar Impulse project. Until then, a video...