RightHand's Recap of the TI Developer Conference in Dallas

As attendees at the 2006 Texas Instruments (TI) Developer Conference, held February 28 - March 2, 2006, RightHand got to preview new products, learn about solving design challenges, and hear about the latest in trends at Texas Instruments.

A lot of the buzz at the conference revolved around TI's latest technology, DaVinci. DaVinci is a core DSP architecture and MontaVista Linux OS on an ARM processor, used to develop multi-media and video devices. To help products get to market faster, TI understood that developers were going through the same pains: choosing hardware and software components that worked seamlessly together. The DaVinci technology is a packaged hardware and software solution that takes some of the guess work out of the design and helps companies bring their media products to market swiftly.

Because the conference focus was primarily on TI's DSP product line, many of the sessions discussed solutions in the audio/video market. Aside from DaVinci, topics at the conference ran the gamut from communications to systems to control to video to education. Automotive developers listened to the session on time-triggered protocols, where the discussion was on the rise of time-triggered protocols (TTP) such as TTCAN and Flexray to provide time deterministic communication, a crucial feature for automotive applications such as engine management and power train.

One conference session demonstrated video analytics for a video surveillance system and it clarified what types of systems you can build with DaVinci. Instead of watching a bank of surveillance monitors, rules applied to video are analyzed in real-time to detect objects left behind, objects removed, people entering or leaving a restricted area, people or object counting, and/or the evaluation of traffic patterns of people or objects. When a rule is violated, an alert is issued. It takes the human factor out of watching a video monitor. The system's architecture was designed to give access to the same video data across multiple mutually exclusive departments (i.e. security and marketing), and without streaming the same video across a network with limited bandwidth.

Educators in another session discussed the challenge of teaching an engineer all the programming tools, languages, techniques and math in a short four-year program. With the large proliferations in embedded specialties and rapid expansion of tools available, it is impossible to impart a total overview to engineering students in an undergraduate program. The general consensus is that educators that strong math skills are the most critical but concede that a heavy focus on math theory and not enough hands-on problem solving might discourage applicants from applying to their programs. This also counters the view that potential employers who value job readiness may not understand the value of knowing more math and fewer programming tools or languages.

One of the more "entertaining" parts of the conference included a demonstration of a firefighter's turnout coat, embedded with technology that transmits vital sign information about the firefighter to a basestation for monitoring physiological conditions. The demonstration was complete with ladder, gear, fire and smoke. Also entertaining were the digital cinema clips by Disney of the movie Chicken Little and a documentary about the Titanic - displayed on a big screen, in life-like 3D. Coming soon to a theatre near you...