On the industrial automation side, we work on remote monitoring and remote sensing. The IoT is all about M2M communication, where we need to take care of a lot of device parameters, make real-time decisions, analyse productivity and take decisions based on on-field devices. We are also working on a home automation project where we are trying to control switches using tablets and smart phones.
Teaming up for better results
Q. Who all have you partnered with for technologies and components?
A. We have a good relationship with companies like Texas Instruments (TI), NXP, ST, Renesas and Silicon Labs, and regularly use their chipsets in our designs. We have partnered with U-blox (www.u-blox.com), a leading provider of wireless modules like Wi-Fi, BT, GSM/ GPRS and GPS, and with Radiocrafts (www.radiocrafts.com) for short-range RF modules. We also have a tie-up with companies like Amazon, for secure cloud services.
Q. Can you name some of your leading international clients and the kind of work you have done for them?
A. We are closely working with some overseas clients like GEMS Global, Tiny Mesh, Totaltel Technologies, Mesh-Net, Radiocrafts and Broentech for various product development activities. We have developed products for industrial automation, consumer and IoT applications for them.
Q. Can you also name some of your leading Indian clients and the kind of projects you have done for them?
A. We work closely with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) for whom we have developed electronics for simulators. We have worked on a GPS-tracker that is not only used for location-finding but also for their blade-server-time-sync application. We have also developed a complete weather-station data-logger, which in turn supplies data to the disaster management unit of Karnataka, to log various weather parameters like wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, rainfall and solar-radiation in various locations in Karnataka. Another design that we have worked on is a shoulder-level rocket launcher simulator for Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) that is used to train soldiers at base camps by simulating an actual war field. We also supply our wireless GPRS data-loggers for various flow-meter manufacturers like ABB, YOKOGAWA and VEGA for water-flow measurements and remote data-logging applications.
For the Railways, we have worked on two projects. One is a data-logger project that captures about 150 different parameters like battery voltages, axle temperature, alternating current (AC) test points, water levels, engine parameters, etc, when a train enters a station. At every station, there are multiple sensors beneath the track and these send out the data needed. These parameters are then measured or wirelessly communicated to our system, which records the data and prints it. The data from consecutive stations is then compared to study the health of various components and perform servicing, as and when required.
The other project is a passenger information system that tracks trains in real-time. The details would also be displayed on monitors in each coach, which can be connected to the cloud to send in announcements or advertisements.
Simulate to mimic
Q. Tell us about your simulation projects.
A. We have developed simulators for machine gun, rocket launcher and for the aerospace vertical. We are currently working on one for naval systems. We provide a complete system environment for these projects, including both hardware design and software program. We developed a machine gun simulator for BEL, and this is being used to train soldiers at base-camps. The software creates an environment mimicking a war field and the soldiers use our software, instead of actual machine guns. Bullets are replaced by lasers to identify and analyse their shooting skills.
Q. How would you contrast this to gaming simulations? What are the challenges in developing such a system?
A. The two are similar in nature, but the difference is that the sensors used here give them the feel of holding a real weapon. The main challenge in developing such projects lies in understanding how the whole system works. This is more of converting imagination into an experience that is as realistic as possible. We also need to take into account factors like reaction-time, time to hit the target, whether the target hit is correctly identified and so on.
Q. For a real-time application as complex as this, what kind of sensors do you use? What challenges does the software side of things pose?
A. Lasers, very high-speed cameras for image-processing applications, and other components like light emitting diodes (LEDs) are widely used.
The challenge with software design lies in understanding the protocols and how to work with them. Managing commands, multiple devices at the same time and inter-communication between devices and between the system and connected devices are tricky tasks.