IoT Operating System Runs Multiple Low Memory Devices Over a Common User Interface
Shawn Wasserman posted on February 17, 2016 | 4310 views

The fourth version of MicroEJ’s internet of things (IoT) operating system will be introduced at the Embedded World Conference in Nuremburg, Germany. The operating system is designed to run connected devices that operate on low power and little memory.

(Image courtesy of MicroEJ.)
(Image courtesy of MicroEJ.)

Traditionally, mobile operating systems require gigabits of memory and storage to operate; this is one reason your cellphone costs so much money. In comparison, IoT devices have small footprints and are heavily constrained by their hardware. As a result, they cannot operate with traditional mobile operating systems without becoming expensive pieces of hardware.

MicroEJ can operate on low-power, low-megahertz microcontrollers with kilobytes of memory and storage. This will save IoT designers a significant amount of money on their bill of materials (BOM) as well as increasing the battery life of the devices they designs. The OS can reside on hardware or on top of a real time kernel with associative libraries.

The MicroEJ operating system will be able to run IoT devices as well as allowing customers to enjoy the app and marketplace experience that has become so popular with the cell phone community. These apps are executed in binary format on RAM or Flash memory to optimize performance. However, users shouldn’t expect to run Angry Birds on the limited hardware for which this OS is optimized.

Some of the other characteristics of MicroEJ OS 4 include:

  • Custom OS scalability for the target IoT device, starting at 30 KB of RAM or Flash
  • Binary reuse of applications for various IoT products written in C and Java
  • Narrowband connections (gateway and mobile) and broadband connections (cloud) over various wired and wireless protocols and IP-based communications
  • Cryptography standards (SSL/TLS and DTLS) for data transfer and storage
  • Software authentication on OAuth protocol with certificates and software IDs
  • Apps verified before they become available on the MicroEJ Application store to avoid malicious software
  • IP protection of proprietary software
  • New 2D graphics with touch user interface libraries and Micro Widget Toolkit (MWT) for UI customization
  • Isolation layer between running apps to ensure safe independent executions

How an IoT Device’s Operating System Affects its Mechanical Design

The design of IoT devices has a lot of push and pull, where software influences hardware which in turn influences physical design. Conversely, as design cases become more compact -- and even wearable -- mechanical designs constrain the hardware and hence the software capabilities of the device.

By using an OS that can operate on constrained hardware, design engineers will be able to get a better idea of the size, weight, display and hardware of the IoT device early in design. This will allow for more informed decisions with respect to the mechanical design.

As a result, IoT design engineers should keep an eye on what their colleagues in the software and hardware teams are up to before sending a redesign request.

Do you keep hardware and software in mind for your IoT designs? How does that influence your decisions? Comment below.

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