Embedded OS and GUI for Lab-based Biological Sampling

Package embedded OS platform software and custom designed GUI to complete development for a system solution used to count large sets of molecules in a single test tube.

The Client

Client was developing a patented platform for single molecule identification and digital quantification. The system uniquely barcodes individual target molecules, scans them and delivers a literal inventory of target molecules in the biological sample. The biotechnology application is used by medical professionals and scientists for laboratory analysis of molecules.

Two components of the technology are a digital prep station that can prepare up to 72 samples and a digital analyzer. The entire system automates the digital detection and counting of up to 800 different molecules simultaneously in a single sample.

The Need

In order to complete the system development, the clients relied on RightHand Technologies embedded expertise for two things: 1) The platform OS built from Windows XP Embedded into a master embedded image that integrates applications, drivers and hardware configuration in a small file with a quick boot time. 2) A graphical user interface for the integrated touch screen used to setup and configure the system.

The RightHand Solution

In order to produce the master embedded image for the system, RightHand engineers compiled the smallest possible image for the application. This involved configuring the embedded image to contain the essential applications and drivers, confirming all vendor drivers worked with the hardware, bypassing Windows-like features to have the device boot directly to the application, and developing a custom windows service to the XP image to work with another peripheral off of the USB.

Utilizing networking monitoring tools and utilities to analyze executables statically or at run time helped RightHand Engineers to debug any issues along the way. Once the image was completed and tested, we provided the client with build documentation for Win XPe specific to their hardware and provided training on cloning the master image for production.

The GUI design for the touch screen application graphically displays the test tubes, allows for labeling of the tubes and enables the user to initiate the imaging process. The buttons and selection text are designed to be large enough and spaced apart enough for a finger touch to work properly. While tests are running, the application shows test progress in addition to logging and displaying errors encountered during the procedure.

A customized file browsing control was added to open the Windows system to accept a custom file type on a USB device and to save test results to the hardware. The file browsing control was setup to ignore known file extensions so that the application's file browser would only recognize the custom test files.

The Results

The resulting user interface and embedded OS board support platform allowed for the client's engineers to complete the complex application work on the system and release the stand-alone hardware units for trial. The system was well accepted, with the performance required for today's most demanding research applications, yet was simple enough for use in clinical laboratories worldwide.