09 February 2011

Working together to eradicate bugs

RMIT University has collaborated with Clarinox Technologies to develop a new approach to the biggest issue in the embedded systems industry - debugging complex designs.

Real-time and embedded systems have become a necessity in almost every aspect of daily life, driving smart products such as mobile phones.

The research by wireless electronic solutions provider Clarinox and RMIT has led to a flexible and portable system tool designed to address a range of technical limitations, making everyday systems more reliable.

Dr Paul Beckett, Senior Lecturer in RMIT's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and collaborator on the project, said a large proportion of those embedded systems were life-critical and time-sensitive.

"Debugging is something of a 'black art'," Dr Beckett said.

"Finding bugs is like counting black cats in a dark room at midnight.

"A debugging tool such as the one developed by Clarinox is like turning on the light - you still have to find them, but they're a lot easier to spot."

Trish Messiter, CEO and director of business development at Clarinox Technologies, said embedded systems drove all smart products.

"From mobile phones, to home appliances, to engine ignition systems, to vital sign sensors, the debugger that we describe is a tool to help the engineers make these devices more reliable," Ms Messiter said.

The joint paper that arose from the research, Plug-in Based Debugging for Embedded Systems, was published recently at the annual conference on Real Time Embedded Systems held in Singapore.

The project is an outcome of the ongoing relationship between Clarinox and RMIT, which has included Clarinox's involvement in embedded courses, from guest lectures to thesis and industrial project supervision.

"This alliance demonstrates confidence in the technical expertise of Clarinox and provides us with exposure to up-to-the-minute thinking within the embedded systems industry, from academics and the fresh ideas of the young engineers they are training," Ms Messiter said.

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