Open Source for Embedded
In the past, wireless embedded systems often relied on custom-written bare metal firmware or expensive proprietary operating systems or frameworks. Backed by large semiconductor and technology companies, reliable open source alternatives have now become available.
In addition the increased capabilities and reduced costs of SoCs with rich features and interfaces have made it possible to use higher-level operating systems based on the LinuxⓇ kernel. For certain devices, using embedded Linux or AndroidTM allows product designers to take advantage of a large pool of tried-and-tested software components and drivers.
Using open source software in commercial products and systems can present its own set of challenges. Open source software may not be as well-maintained as commercial solutions and may require additional effort to port, adapt, or integrate into a client’s platform. Integration of open source components from different repositories or projects can be challenging. However, the benefits of leveraging existing software often outweighs the cost of writing such software from scratch, and the potential exists to continue to benefit from future contributions, fixes, and enhancements to the open source component.
In addition to technical considerations and challenges, designers also need to consider license terms and restrictions when selecting open source software for commercial use. Some open source software (e.g., GPL software) may be licensed in a way which puts certain requirements and restrictions on companies that distribute that software. A strong understanding of these tradeoffs, particularly as they apply to embedded systems, is important when evaluating the cost/benefit analysis of an open source solution or component.
Cloud2GND has experience incorporating open source software into commercial products, as well as experience contributing to and maintaining important open source projects in the wireless connectivity space. We can help recommend appropriate open source solutions and customize or port those solutions to meet a client’s project needs, as well as add new functionality or features to existing open source components.
Zephyr is a small-footprint, real-time operating system designed for IoT devices. It is open-source and maintained by the Zephyr Project, which is hosted by the Linux Foundation. Zephyr provides a scalable, modular, and secure software platform for building Connected Devices and IoT products and is licensed under the Apache 2.0 License for maximum flexibility and usability.
Zephyr provides a set of features that are essential for building secure and scalable devices. It includes a real-time scheduler, support for secure boot, and secure over-the-air (OTA) updates. It also includes features such as power management, networking, and a consistent device driver model, which makes it easier for developers to build products that are both secure and scalable. With its small footprint, Zephyr is well suited for devices that have limited memory and processing power.
Zephyr is designed to run on a wide range of hardware platforms, including microcontrollers, systems-on-chips (SoCs), and single-board computers. It supports multiple architectures, including ARM, x86, and RISC-V, making it highly portable across different hardware platforms. This allows developers to use Zephyr to build devices that can run on a variety of hardware platforms.
Zephyr incorporates a set of common Bluetooth APIs and an open-source Bluetooth LE host stack and LE profiles. Various chipsets, for example the Bluetooth LE chipsets from Nordic Semiconductor (nRF52x, nRF53x), also have available Bluetooth LE controller implementations, providing off-the-shelf support in Zephyr for many Bluetooth LE use cases when used with supported boards and chipsets.
Cloud2GND has extensive experience with the Zephyr RTOS and with the Zephyr Bluetooth LE implementations in particular, as well as building applications using Zephyr and the Nordic SDK. We are very excited to continue to contribute to the growing Zephyr community and we think it’s an exciting framework for building modern state-of-the-art connected devices.
Embedded Linux and BlueZ
Embedded Linux is any version of the Linux operating system (kernel, drivers, and associated components) that is designed to run on resource-constrained embedded systems. Many different distributions of embedded Linux exist and in most cases the distribution selected will be driven by the hardware design choices and availability of vendor-supplied Board Support Packages (BSPs) for a given SoC or hardware platform.
BlueZ is a Bluetooth protocol stack for LinuxⓇ. It is an open-source project that is maintained by The Linux FoundationⓇ and is designed to provide support for Bluetooth technology on Linux-based systems. BlueZ provides a set of libraries and utilities that can be used to develop Bluetooth applications on Linux, as well as a Bluetooth daemon that can be used to manage Bluetooth devices on a system.
Cloud2GND has experience porting, enhancing, and maintaining the BlueZ Bluetooth protocol stack for embedded Linux. We have also integrated other Bluetooth protocol stacks into Linux to be used in place of the BlueZ protocol stack for cases where BlueZ did not meet a project’s needs for technical or licensing reasons. If you have a BlueZ-based solution in need of support, or need help with an embedded Linux based connected device solution, Cloud2GND has the experience and knowledge to help your engineering team succeed.
Android and Bluetooth
The Android operating system, also based on the Linux kernel, can be a compelling option for devices with a graphical user interface. Android is an open source mobile operating system primarily targeting mobile phones and tablets, but it can also be deployed on a wide range of devices and embedded systems. Over time, the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) has supported multiple different open source Bluetooth protocol stacks. The most recent Bluetooth protocol stack versions are well maintained due to their wide deployment in consumer devices and support many of the newest Bluetooth features and capabilities.
Cloud2GND has experience working with Android at the system level to integrate new Bluetooth protocol stacks, and working with the platform to leverage the existing Bluetooth protocol stack options such as BlueDroid, Fluoride, and Gabeldorsch. If you need to develop or maintain system level software based on the Android operating system, we have the knowledge and expertise to assist.
Let’s Get Connected
Cloud2GND can make your next Bluetooth project successful. Contact us today to learn how.