Altium has spent many years preparing for a time when those who have embraced our way of designing things would be able to take advantage of our unified approach to design. We see it will become increasingly imperative that devices are not only intelligent, but are interconnected in the same way that Facebook enables people to be interconnected. Altium Designer is being made ready for designers who need to build devices that can participate in the "Internet of Things", the sea of devices where devices communicate with each other as part of an interconnected mesh.
In part the opportunity to design devices that can participate in this space has arisen from the emergence of a Web 2.0 Service Oriented Architecture, supported by increased bandwidth and reliable communications infrastructure. In part it is due to the availability of high-performance, low-cost ARM-based microcontrollers, and low-priced FPGAs. But the potential inherent in these technologies has been limited by a lack of tools to exploit them, both in terms of design flow control and rapid application development. Altium is now well-placed to finalize the development of the tools engineers require to do this.
Basically, discrete device design is increasingly going to make way for design solutions that give rise to products that are capable of participating in an ecosystem of connected devices, enabling tomorrow’s designers to harness the potential hidden in these arrays of seemingly unrelated devices.
Cloud-based software applications, engineered to harness the power of Internet-enabled intelligent devices, are a vital part of this future. Therefore, acquiring Morfik provides a powerful step forward for Altium in this area. The combination of the Morfik team and the technology they have developed will seriously help Altium to accelerate towards this end goal.
The Morfik acquisition enables Altium to provide the engineering community with the tools to develop Internet-enabled applications that can sit inside the devices being designed for this new world. Whether this embedded intelligence capacity is provided simply as machine-to-machine functionality, or whether a web-based human interface is developed, Morfik allows developers to use high level programming principles within their designs to provide this interconnectedness: Morfik allows developers to write Object Oriented web applications and embed them into the next generation of devices, or write agent applications that are designed to interact between a number of devices. Morfik provides the professional rigour of a software-engineering approach to the development of cloud-based applications.
Altium’s objective is to help electronics designers expand their role from designing the electronics in devices to the larger role of designing and engineering web-based ‘device ecosystems’. As discussed in the paper “What’s next for electronics devices,” these ecosystems will consist of a platform comprising the actual electronic devices, connected via the Internet, along with cloud-based software applications that run on this platform.
About the author:
Alan Perkins has over 20 years' experience in systems analysis and design and is a sought after industry speaker on how businesses can utilize cloud computing for improved success. Alan joined Altium in January 2001 and is responsible for Altium's global business systems and infrastructure. Alan recently took an 18 month sabbatical where he consulted widely on system development for a number of companies including Qantas. Alan is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia.
Alan Perkins can be reached at this number: +61 2 8622 8148