Applied Data Systems Enables Linux Tablet-Video Cam Link
Jan 22, 2003, 17:30 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jacqueline Emigh)
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At LinuxWorld this week, showgoers will get a gander at a
tablet-sized device, linked through the USB port to a tiny NTSC
video camera. The Linux-capable PDA will use Bitsy-X, one of two
new boards to be launched at the conference by Applied Data Systems
"Imagine. You can take just about any video camera--even a home
videocam--and hook it up to a Linux PDA," enthused Fred Salloum,
ADS's director of marketing, in a pre-briefing for Linux Today.
ADS has already hit the market with the Graphics Master, a
larger one-board solution for embedded instrumentation systems. In
the same family, ADS will this week roll out the Display Master, a
board that adds graphics acceleration for up to 16-bit SVGA
ADS's depature into PDAs, though, is something new. Salloum
claims to have a number of OEMs already lined up for the tablet
boards, which support Linux along with other "personalities." He
declines, however, to cite manufacturers' names at this point.
As Salloum sees it, devices based on ADS's Bitsy-X will be
distinctly different from the Windows XP-based tablet PCs of so
many Microsoft hardware partners.
Salloum envisions use of the Bitsy-X in vertical markets ranging
from medicine to fleet management and farming.
Most of the first software applications for Windows XP tablets
are likewise geared to vertical spaces.
"ADS, though, lets customers design the internal guts of the
machine. They can customize whatever they want. A customer like
Motorola, for instance, can say, 'We want exactly this number of
USB ports, and exactly this number of serial ports," according to
ADS's unveiling of Bitsy-X comes when some industry observers --
particularly those from competing OS camps -- are attacking Linux
as less than suitable for embedded systems.
According to Wind River Systems Founder and Chairman Jerry
Fiddler, Linux doesn't meet embedded systems' needs for speed, a
real time OS, a small footprint, and low power consumption, in that
Linux was originally built to run on network servers.
For its part, ADS seems to lean toward OS agnosticism. The new
Display Master, for instance, initially ships with CE.NET, although
it's also capableof supporting WindowsCE and "a variety of other
options," according to the company.
Also at LinuxWorld, ADS will announce a partnership with Skelmir
LLF for the use of CEE-J, a suite of virtual machines for hosting
Java applications on embedded devices.
Salloum, however, also points to advantages inherent in the
"modularity and scalability" of Linux.
"We work with the Open Source consortium and take the latest
that's available. Then we do the port, and all the lower level
software. That's where we add value," he maintains.
Linux distributors Red Hat Software and MontaVista have also
ported their OS to systems based on ADS's boards, according to
The new Bitsy-X uses Intel's PXA250 microprocessor with an
SA-1111 StrongARM companion chip. PXA processors are noteworthy for
their advanced power capabilities.
Bitsy's capabilities include touchscreen support; three serial
ports (configurable as RS-232, TTL and IRDA); USB master and slave;
audio input; amplified stereo output (2.2W); and an Ethernet
daughter board option.
Bitsy and Display Master production units range from about $200
to $500 in price, depending on their specific capabilities. ADS
will ship both boards immediately.