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Applied Data Systems Enables Linux Tablet-Video Cam Link

Jan 22, 2003, 17:30 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jacqueline Emigh)


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

By Jacqueline Emigh
Linux Today

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 (ADS).

"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 color.

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 Salloum.

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 Salloum.

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.

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