Embedded Graphical User-Interface Development

This Case Study details how Embed carry out embedded graphical user-interface development for Panasonic Manufacturing UK. Using the Enterprise Architect SysML tools, Simulink, and Embedded Wizard to target the STM32F4 from STMicroelectronics.

Embed supports Panasonic Manufacturing UK LTD to deliver luxury combination ovens. These ovens have user interfaces that are more akin to in-car infotainment systems and mobile phones. A sophisticated clean look with a large display and a responsive touch and swipe interface.

The relationship began when Panasonic Manufacturing UK, based in Cardiff, sought a partner to develop the graphical user interfaces for a range of combination ovens, which needed to match other products in their kitchen range.

The user interface software of the other products was closed source, therefore the goal of the project was to build a new user interface from the ground up that could provide the specific functionality needed for the oven, and also match seamlessly with the other products in terms of graphical and audible performance.

So Panasonic Manufacturing UK, led by Marc Andriola of the Home Appliance Software Development Group, searched for a local partner to support their software needs. After running an extensive selection process Panasonic Manufacturing UK chose Embed. This was due to Embed’s technical expertise and passion for working in an efficient model based development process.

Embed’s development process is based on Automotive SPICE (ISO-15504), fully supported with the state of the art modelling tools. To better understand the requirements Embed model them in SysML using a process called ACRE[1]. ACRE promotes looking at the system from many viewpoints to create a more complete picture of the system under design. This means many more of the requirements are captured; resulting in a more robust design and far fewer late changes.

The Flagship 44R Combination Oven with the Embed developed User-Interface

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Layered Software

From the requirements Embed developed a layered software architecture to separate the Graphical User Interface (GUI), Control Logic and Device Drivers from each other. This enabled parallel development of each of the layers and facilitates software reuse.

The device drivers were developed in C and parameterised to ease reuse. These were then wrapped into Simulink®[2]blocks with the parameters available in the model. This enables the complete application to be created using a single button push. This efficiency removes manual integration errors and greatly reduces the time it takes to do bugfix loops.

The control logic was developed in Simulink® and Stateflow®[2]; using model based development to speed the development and testing of the complex statecharts. These were hooked up to the Simulink® blockset to drive the inputs and outputs. The complete application was then auto-coded using the Simulink® embedded coder.

Fast Development Loops

Embed chose Embedded Wizard®[3] to develop the graphics. A good mix of functionality, price and embedded code footprint. The graphics were developed in the tool and an initial Windows based simulation was created. This helped communicate the design and get sign-off for the GUI early; again reducing long and expensive design loops at the back end of the project. With the GUI agreed the embedded code was generated from Embedded Wizard® and integrated with the control logic and device drivers.

Testing was carried out using Vector CAST®[4] tools. This automated test harness suite accelerated development of the unit tests and the integration tests. The tools also gave essential help ensuring code coverage and improved test automation.

45% Cost Saving

The project was a great success. The speed of development and quality of the software was outstanding. This success has strengthened the relationship and Embed and Panasonic Manufacturing UK LTD are now working on the next project consisting of six different ovens with different levels of features and user interfaces all from the same base software. As a real example, the cost savings for the current project compared to the first project are 45%, and this is all due to the layered software architecture. Reusing fully validated software components; saving on development, testing and documentation.

Reuse of Code

Panasonic Manufacturing UK are now utilising Embed on a consultancy basis to develop their own software solutions for the power board within the oven. The power board controls the heating devices and sensors within the oven. This has a communications link to the GUI board and is safety critical. Together Embed and Panasonic Manufacturing UK LTD will develop a new Simulink® blockset for the power board based on a brand new processor from STMicroelectronics. Then Panasonic Manufacturing UK LTD will develop the control logic in Simulink® and auto-code the complete application using this blockset.

Panasonic Logo

Panasonic Manufacturing UK LTD is based in Cardiff, UK.

[1]. ACRE is a requirements capture process developed by Scarecrow Consultants, Jon Holt and Simon Perry. A great book to learn more about this is ‘SyML for Systems Engineering: a model-based approach (Computing and Networks)’ published by the IET.

[2]. Simulink® and Stateflow® are a registered trademarks of The Mathworks. Simulink® is a great tool to enable you to develop control software using a natural graphical language based on block diagrams. Stateflow® is the statechart tool within the Simulink environment. Embed is an approved MathWorks partner and can be found on the MathWorks website.

[3] Embedded Wizard® is an embedded graphical user interface (GUI) authoring tool from TARA Systems with a small footprint efficient graphics engine for multiple microprocessors.  This case-study is also highlighted on the TARA Systems website.

[4] Vector CAST® is an automated unit and integration software test platform from Vector.

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