Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Embedded software made simpler yet more powerful


The current decade will probably be known as the dawn of pervasive computing, when PCs were dethroned by technology to embed computers in almost everything. The hardware already exists to add features such as artificial intelligence and wireless connectivity to clothing or cars. Thanks to researchers, software is catching up fast.

“Hardware development has reached a stage where it is possible to have a fully-fledged computer with processor, memory and operating system on a board the size of a sliver of chewing gum,” explains Germán Puebla, a researcher at Madrid Technical University. “But until now software that can be programmed easily, and uses the limited hardware and power resources of pervasive computing devices as efficiently as possible has been lacking.”

Puebla coordinated the ASAP project, which set out to solve the problem of creating and adapting software to run efficiently on pervasive computing systems, where computers are integrated in everyday objects and environments.

The result is a groundbreaking open source programming, analysis and optimisation toolkit for pervasive computing systems using Constraint Logic Programming (CLP) languages that has been validated in a series of case studies.

Until ASAP, the use of high-level CLP languages, which simplify programming and make software more portable across different platforms, had not been considered a feasible solution for pervasive systems because the convenience they provide to programmers comes at a cost: generally less efficient and more resource-hungry code.

Therefore, researchers have traditionally used low-level languages such as C, which tend to be more efficient but also more complicated to code, limits the versatility and complexity of the software, and generally forces programmers to manually rewrite the program for different platforms.

Because pervasive computing involves multiple different distributed platforms communicating among themselves the software needs to be interoperable, but, because of the limited processing and power resources of pervasive devices, most of which are battery operated, the software must also be as efficient as possible.

ASAP’s toolkit offers a solution by using the high-level declarative language Ciao in a way that is optimised to reduce resource consumption.

“Software created with the toolkit is comparable in terms of resource demands to code written in C if it is designed to do the same thing. But Ciao programs can also do much more complex tasks, and with our toolkit it is feasible for them to run on pervasive systems,” Puebla explains. “Ciao is also much easier to use – programmers don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they need to create or adapt a program.”

Self-tuning and resource-aware analysis and specialisation algorithms allow the toolkit, dubbed CiaoPP, to produce specialised programs that are automatically optimised to meet particular processing and resource constraints. The CLP analysis and transformation tools can also act as a meta-language between a broad range of high and low-level languages to optimise and verify programs for pervasive computing.

Because of the automatic nature of the tools and the limited need for manual programming, the risk of errors being introduced into the code is also reduced.

“This is particularly important if we are looking at a future in which tiny computers are everywhere,” Puebla notes.

In one of the project’s case studies, pervasive application kernels written in Ciao were run on the gumstix single board computer – a chewing gum slice-sized computer – as part of a wearable computer system being developed by the University of Bristol, an ASAP project partner. They have already used the ASAP toolkit to develop software for a hearing device that can emulate the spatial and directional effects of sound, simulating, for virtual reality gaming, for example, the way we experience noises emanating from different sources in real life.

In industry, pervasive systems that monitor hazardous materials or the protective clothing of workers would improve safety and security. In healthcare, ubiquitous devices could keep check on patients’ health remotely. And in the home, tiny computers embedded in everyday appliances could turn on the heating, dim the lights or even let you know when you are running low on milk.

“The uses for pervasive systems are almost infinite, and the market is potentially huge,” Puebla notes.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Fraunhofer FIT joins Facebook's Telecom Infra Project
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>