For companies designing next generation electronic devices for the medical, industrial, or military industries, there are several modern development processes that can accelerate time to market.
The first process involves using a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) single board computer (SBC) as the main processor board for the new product design. Instead of starting from scratch designing all the circuitry, building prototypes, software driver development, board bring-up, and designing a processor board in-house, the product team simply utilizes an existing COTS single board computer. This allows the design team to accelerate the development process and leverage existing production-ready hardware and a validated and tested BSP. In-house, the design team adds only the unique interfaces, digital, and/or analog circuitry that is used in their particular application, or their specialty IP which could include both hardware and software. The company’s design team focuses on what makes its product unique and different in their marketplace, creating a competitive advantage.
The second methodology is modified COTS (MCOTS). Instead of using the existing COTS single board computer as-is, a COTS SBC is re-spun into a semi-custom version that meets the exact customer and design requirements. Typically, this process is used for higher volume products to lower per unit cost, to add functionality to a single circuit board, or for simplifying the design, final assembly, and test process. Similar to using a COTS board, a modified COTS design accelerates time to market, save cost (30-60% less then designing a board from scratch), and reduces risk.
The third process option is a subset of modified COTS which utilizes a new processor technology called SCM (or single chip module). Primed for an accelerated time to market, InHand launched a new COTS single board computer called the Fury-M6 in June 2015. Integrated into the Fury-M6 is Freescale’s newly launched single chip module SCM-i.MX6DC. The SCM includes a dual core i.MX 6 processor, 1GB LPDDR2, 16MB of NOR Flash, PMIC (power management IC), and many associated discrete components, all integrated into a single module with a very small footprint. This new technology optimizes circuit board area, power management, and device thermal characteristics, and allows extremely small size PCB boards to be developed.
Finally, these same principals of product development can be used for full device product development including the enclosure, mechanical and industrial design, electronics, and certification process. A fully finished product can then be delivered to a client (widely known in the electronics industry as a full box-build), with application software pre-loaded and the product ready for shipment. In addition to starting with a COTS SBC, InHand can also leverage our COTS Hydra-F6 rugged tablet as-is COTS or as a modified COTS tablet, which can accelerate time-to-market even further.