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Renesas DevCon and the Smart Society

Around 900 attendees attended the Renesas DevCon event in Orange County last week – the event slogan was “Enabling the Smart Society” and featured the latest semiconductor innovations from Renesas. Renesas invited their ecosystem of partners, including Mentor Graphics, with “Smart Applications” running on everything from low-end microcontrollers, to high-end multi-core SoC devices such as the R-Car H1, that we used to power our Infotainment Demonstration.
I like the on-line real-time session booking system at these events, as they give attendees up-to-the-minute information relating to the popularity of each lecture session. It serves as a barometer regarding “what is hot”for engineers. As an example, the Autosar sessions were sold out. It may be self-fulfilling, as engineers like to see what others are doing, and go to the most popular events, but there is no question that using Autosar as a standard software interface mechanism for automotive ECUs makes a lot of commercial sense. It should also allow better interchangeability in future, giving automotive OEMs more choice. Any sessions to do with using development kits, and live demonstrations were sold out – Renesas gave out free development kits to attending engineers based on the RX63N, and the accompanying lecture showed how to use the on-board Accelerometers, LEDs, Audio, and WiFi to implement your project. We all left feeling that it would be possible to design and build almost any industrial application board very quickly – the development kit for the board is fully Open Source, which makes it very appealing. Leading on from this was a lunch-talk by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway product. As an expert in robotics, embedded software and electronics, he was encouraging everyone present to inspire the next generation of engineers to “get involved”, and invent devices that really can help the Smart Society. He highlighted “Robot Wars” as a very positive influence on innovation, with battle-classes starting with 6 year-olds using lego bricks upwards!
The capacitive touch-screen session was sold out, with an in-depth explanation of how the technology works, and featured the Renesas R8C/36T-A. The small capacitive changes as a finger gets nearer the capacitive touch-pad are amplified, then signal-conditioned to generate digital touch or select functions. On the Mentor demonstration booth, we showcased the Renesas R-Car H1 platform, connected up to a large 3M capacitive touch-screen monitor, and demonstrated an in-car Infotainment system based on Mentor Embedded Inflexion HMI design product. As one method of user input, touch-screen is very important and attractive to Infotainment system users, but will need to be mixed with other input methods as driver legislation becomes stricter about browsing small screens and drawing the driver’s vision away from the road.
This was a very productive conference, and it’s a pity it only happens every other year. 2014 seems a long way off!


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About Andrew Patterson

Andrew PattersonAndrew Patterson is Business Development Director for Mentor Graphic’s embedded division, specializing in the Automotive market. Prior to Mentor Andrew has spent over 20 years in the Design Automation market specializing in a wide range of technologies including wire harness design, automotive simulation model development, virtual prototyping, and mechatronics. Currently he is focused on working with the GENIVI industry alliance, and leading Mentor’s Infotainment and in-vehicle Electronic Cluster and Telematic solutions. Andrew holds a masters degree in Engineering and Electrical Sciences from Cambridge University, UK. Visit Embedded Blog

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