Monday, August 25, 2008

Embedded Linux Development Platform in India

Last week I did a bit of research on what exactly an open platform like beageboard did mean to India.

With some simple queries on I found lots of forums, mailing lists, groups, publications for Linux meant exclusively for India. I found some good articles on what open community means in India like, it shows that open source principles and concepts are not new to India.

Going forward I was wondering about the current state of open source, I found another blog which was kind of upto date. The author is capturing really good amount of data here. Moving forward I found group for Simputer that has 2343 active members and the handheld concept being driven in early 2001 itself. I found some info on SBCs developed in early 2001 to 2003 from various companies in India like iWave’s SBC on MPC860, 8260, ARM etc. I realized that embedded Linux development platforms were locally available for developers, startups in India.

I then changed my focus to Universities & Students, I was just amazed to find every top colleges being equipped with an embedded systems lab with embedded platforms from TI, Intel, and many other sources. There are trainings available from range of institutions for embedded devices and Linux in particular.

I then thought of identifying gaps in previous offerings made to Indian customer base (students and organizations) for embedded Linux platforms and for open source concepts in particular.

Just thought of listing few below:

  • The packaging was bit difficult to handle, the distribution was just one time in a CD, no improvements.
  • The hardware was low cost but software stack was priced high.
  • Sometimes software was free but hardware was not generic enough to explore
  • At times both hardware and software were bit expensive to handle.
  • The software was just basic and calls for a hard development to explore high end applications like multimedia applications
  • When total cost was low, the support didn’t exist at all.
  • Though University and students had access to hardware, they were given very less exposure to innovative concepts for the platform
  • Student’s work on a platform didn’t fetch them any credit, exposure, money in any form.
  • Work done by a student was dropped half way and was not provided with other means to carry it forward after completing the course.

There are many such issues that I can list, but overall I feel we have fixed/addressed most of them with Few simple pointers, for Indian startups and organizations:

  • Explore new areas of research in the field of MIDs, Portable navigations, Mobile Devices and applications, Gaming, Medical, Home Security etc
  • Prototype their innovative thought on highest performance ARM, DSP C64x+, 2D/3D graphics accelerator.
  • Develop with latest software : Many Thanks to beagle community members.
  • Always upto date software stack: Again thanks to community members.
  • Almost complete software stack for various segments/ domains like multimedia devices, etc. for Indian students and universities:

  • A low cost affordable hardware for just Rs 9999/-.
  • Learn from Open Community
  • Understand and explore open standards like OpenGL, OpenMax, OpenCV, gStreamer, etc
  • A forum to showcase their thought, develop with global community, maintain it even after completion of their course.

A short message before concluding, Ideas are just like raw materials they need enormous energy or effort, tools, etc to convert it into a finished product, but if energy or effort is shared and tools are made openly available to all then it just needs a motivation to convert an idea into an innovative product. is one such initiative that enables innovation, gives us a forum to express our ideas and share our thoughts & efforts globally, and helps us in converting a simple idea into an innovative product to address a global need.


Happy Learning….


Friday, August 01, 2008

Are we really innovating?

Don’t know why but since few days I am asking this question to my self and to many. The answer I get is bit strange…

To start with what is an innovation? A solution to a common problem (addresses the need) that is accepted globally may be?

While I was in school we used to read lot of books on quiz and innovations and if you have noticed there used to be lot of discoveries in 18th century and early 19th as well, but after mid 19th century they have dropped considerably

Does this mean we have stopped innovating? No way:

  • Daily there are tons of concepts, ideas and thoughts floating around every area of research.
  • The amount of investment in terms of money, time, effort on research has grown drastically over recent years
  • Every year there are 100s of new products getting launched in all segments.
  • So many patents being filed every year.

But why don’t we call them as innovation? Why are they not getting into regular books that we used to read?

An answer given by one of my favorite was “we have to wait till we call them as innovation, may be after some years we will treat these as achievements/innovations”

The one that I believe in is “We are sharing an innovation” – there is no longer a single person involved in innovation. The technology is growing exponentially, an idea needs lot of effort to turn it into a solution for our problem.

To dig more: My favorite innovation is Electric Lamp from Thomas A Edison, if I do some self reasoning, I enter into following questions and self answers

  • What made him invent Electric Lamp? --- Need?
  • He had other energies like Solar, Hydro, etc then why Electricity? --- Accessibility and feasibility may be?
  • Was he aware that there was this energy in electricity that can produce Light? Yes, amazing?
  • If he had used other sources of energy, would that have been a right choice? No, the innovation might have been deprecated by now.
  • How this innovation reached all corners of earth? Today we spend so much on marketing, how did this get marketed? --- May be Common Need of people across the world and demand than some one pushing to accept it.

If I summarize this innovation, it has

- Broader community to accept it as innovation – A global cause/need

- It is be feasible to adopt in any circumstances

- It presents a road map to improve till date

- It is mobile in general, I can carry it where ever I move.

- Not bound to specific area of interest.

Overall – he understood the energy and drove it in a direction that gave a solution for the problem called "Darkness.."

I think this is what we miss today, there are lots of common problems and there are various sources of energies - we need to find right energy to find a right solution.

Unless we do this we cannot call any thing that we do as an innovation….

A quick hint:

Try, it has enormous energy in terms of man power, inventory, intelligence, documentation, awareness, forum to showcase your abilities and capabilities and more over we have lot of global problems to solve…. With this energy if you can find a solution to one of the existing global problems then you are the next - Edison.

Good Luck