Computer-on-Modules for Modern HMI Designs – April 26, 2022 – Rugged Interconnect Technologies


Computers on modules for modern HMI designs

April 26, 2022
Computer/Embedded Technology

In building automation, you can increasingly find touch screens with integrated on-board computers – from automated parking systems to elevators or home air conditioning. Most of the time, these devices wait to be used, but that is no longer enough in some situations. For example, pure touch operation is a problem when someone has their hands full, not to mention today’s stricter hygiene requirements.

Therefore, voice recognition is the logical next step, with Siri and Alexa already leading the way. The decisive element, however, will be image recognition, because it will allow terminals to recognize their users even before they appear in front of them and will thus make it possible to begin a personalized dialogue adapted to the situation. Take the example of an elevator that recognizes a passenger in sportswear and asks if they should stop at the building’s fitness center.

This proactive approach to operating terminals exudes a sense of luxury and can contribute to the overall quality and rating of a building, not only in the case of high-priced residential properties, but also for hotels. Buildings that house utilities also need an efficient visitor. and a guidance system that prevents people from wandering helplessly through endless hallways.

Driving this development is global urban growth and with it an ever-increasing demand for ever smarter solutions for building automation.

The electronics of these proactive assistants must integrate the functionalities of an HMI terminal (touch and graphic functions) as well as the interfaces to the application. Beyond that, however, many other features are also required, such as:

• Audio and video streaming in case you want to be connected to a real person.

• Communication channels to other terminals for seamless user guidance.

• Powerful image processing for individual recognition and observation.

• Authentication by voice and image.

• Consistent security mechanisms to give hackers no chance.

• Reliability even under adverse conditions.

• Long-term availability of hardware and software.

• Energetic efficiency.

• Installation without high cooling costs.

• Cost-effective to enable near ubiquitous use.

• Scalability to meet different challenges within buildings.

Powerful built-in modules with integrated graphics

With its new TQMaRZG2x modules, TQ-Systems (TQ) offers a suitable basis for the next generation of HMI devices. At the heart of these modules are Renesas’ RZ/G2 processors, which scale out pin-compatible from dual-core microprocessors (Arm Cortex-A57) to dual-quad-core microprocessors (Arm Cortex-A57 and -A53). They are supported by a 3D GPU (PowerVR) for demanding graphics and image processing, including an H.265 decoder for higher quality image transmission than that enabled by H.264, even with a limited bandwidth. This means that nothing stands in the way of a live stream with human contact, whether for an intercom system or a connection to a call center.

Additionally, RZ/G2 processors provide reliability through the most consistent use of error-correcting code (ECC) in an integrated MPU; all internal and external memory interfaces are designed for this. Additionally, L1 and L2 caches are also implemented with ECC. Module memory offers up to 8 GB LPDDR4, up to 256 MB Quad-SPINOR Flash, up to 64 GB eMMC and optional 64 Kbit EEPROM. Thus, enough memory is provided even for very demanding HMI applications.

Constant security and long-term certainty

RZ/G2 microprocessors are also convincing when it comes to code and data security. They enable a secure and trustworthy platform with many features such as Arm TrustZone partitioning, cryptographic accelerators, secure key generation and storage, secure boot, and root of trust establishment. In addition, the use of voice and facial recognition for security mechanisms is possible. These are important criteria to allay the safety concerns of users and owners.

What no architect, building operator or resident wants is for an electronic concierge to have the same update cycles known to the world of PCs and consumer electronics. This would result in the frequent inability to use the device while installing an update, only to discover after a few years that the latest “improvements” no longer work properly on existing hardware. Renesas therefore relies on the Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP), a Linux distribution for long-term support designed specifically for infrastructure and industrial systems. The Super Long-Term Support (SLTS) kernel maintained by CIP is designed for a period of use of at least 10 years. This also includes security measures.

As a long-term available basis for next-generation HMI systems, TQMaRZG2x modules provide interfaces for a wide range of building automation applications: LCD and dual camera interfaces; Ethernet, USB and serial ports; CAN, SD card interface, PCIe, I2C, SPI, I2S, GPIO and SATA (RZ/G2N only). The signals are made available to the carrier board via two 220-pin connectors. With dimensions of 77 x 50 mm, the module is smaller than a credit card and therefore fits behind a small screen with most support panels.

These features, combined with the module’s low power consumption (typically 6 W), simplify installation. The standard temperature range of -25°C to +85°C also allows the outdoor use of an electronic concierge. For particularly icy environments, an extended temperature range of -40°C to +85°C is available.

With all of these capabilities, TQ’s TQMaRZG2x modules are ideally suited for use in predictive HMI systems in general, and not exclusively in building automation. They offer all the necessary functions and features that users expect and are provided at a favorable cost structure.


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