"Let there be light!" And there was light.
"Let there be organized information!" So evolved ledgers and related recording systems, computers and applications.
Now in the age of digital nervous system, when we say "Let there be Automation!" , Information flow should address the whole spectrum of source, relation, content and target.
Right from the days of hurricane lanterns till now, source of light has been an integral part of almost all the gadgets be it torches, mobile phones or big ones like street lighting systems or trains or even huge A320 airbus that fly about.
Just as a light source has become indispensable in all these gadgets and systems, the future years would see miniature devices, microcontroller, sensors proliferating in alomost all space, be it domestic, automotive or retail…almost all that we could imagine!
Microcontrollers and sensors will become an integral part of almost all gadgets. To make them collaborate amongst them and other applications is the challenge!
Let us take an instance of a temperature sensor in a hard disc, which needs to monitor the temperature.In case of an abnormal situation,it needs to discover a target (device/application), and know if it can address the situation and send information to the target and invoke some service in the target, say capture the snap shot image of the media and store in a recovery mirror.
In order to achieve this i.e. to program the sensor, at least,
1. You need a base operating system to host your logic which discovers and invokes services.
2. You need to define communication mechanisms.
3. You need good enough space to place your binaries, operating system files and the kernel.
Now, how do you accommodate all the above in a temperature sensor processor which can at most have a few 100 KBs of memory?
.NET Framework with its miniature size and its ease of getting hosted and powerful programming model with high level programming language like C#, makes it possible. .NET Micro Framework does not need an operating system as it comes with a small bootable run time host for the CLR, It uses DPWS which is a service oriented discovery and service invocation paradigm also it can take advantage of RF based communications as well.
.NET Framework - its big brother, other complementary technologies like Windows CE and XPe which are hard real-time embedded, Windows Embedded for Point of Service systems, enables devices built on .Net Micro Framework to easily integrate and communicate with enterprise scale applications and vice-versa with seamless mobility.
.NET Micro framework has a huge potential of bridging the gaps between tiny devices and other devices, applications and thereby connecting islands of information and holding the key to future autonomous digital enterprise.
And looking into the effort part of it
1. What would be the effort in programming in a legacy programming paradigm for embedded systems?
2. What would be the effort to debug them? Etc.
With state of the art development environment from Microsoft, development
and debugging efforts are radically less as seen in “Leviton Manufacturing” case study in my previous posts.
Visual Studio 2005 and higher versions provide best of the class IDE for programming the .Net Micro framework and debugging capabilities. Whether programming an emulator for the device or direct deployment to the device, it is all just clicks away.