Altia Extends Support of Renesas R-Car to Gen3e SoCs, Leveraging CR7 to Reduce HMI Boot Time, Simplify Development and Decrease Development Cost

Altia announces today that our HMI solutions have been integrated with Renesas R-Car Gen3e CR7 Reference Software. Already a longtime supporter of the Renesas R-Car Family, Altia continues our commitment to provide top notch support for Renesas R-Car Gen3e. Our latest code generation solutions enable fast boot time, dedicated support for functional safety operations, further simplified system architecture and overall reduced development costs for OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers designing and deploying integrated cockpits.

“Altia and Renesas have a long-standing history of collaboration in delivering powerful production-proven embedded graphics for automotive applications leveraging the Renesas R-Car Family. Based on our feature upgrade in R-Car Gen3e, Altia continues to demonstrate their leadership in the HMI software space by providing a unique code generation solution that gives our customers the power to deploy first rate graphics while supporting multiple GPUs and operating systems,” stated Naoki Yoshida, Senior Director, High Performance Marketing Digital Division at Renesas.

The emerging trend for integrated cockpits is to leverage a single domain controller to consolidate instrument cluster, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI), HUD and driver monitoring functions. That domain controller integrates multiple CPU cores, GPUs and OSes (with or without a hypervisor) to manage different applications in a multi-display environment. The complexity of such a system challenges OEMs to deliver fast boot time and functional safety while offering compelling animations and rich 3D content. Such a system lends itself to a significant integration cost.

With the new R-Car Gen3e, Renesas has made improvements to enable higher integration and simplified software architecture—all aimed at reducing system cost. One such improvement is CR7 Reference Software, which was architected by Renesas to enable peripheral sharing between the Arm Cortex-R7 (“CR7”) real-time CPU and Arm Cortex-A5x domains of the Renesas Gen3e series processor. This sharing enables streamlined development and deployment of graphics with multiple GPUs and OSes.

“With the CR7 Reference Software solution, Altia extends support for the Renesas R-Car Gen3e series to offload real-time parts of automotive applications like 2D gauges to the real-time CR7 core, enabling fast boot time and safe telltale rendering and monitoring in the instrument cluster and HUD,” stated Michael Hill, Altia Vice President of Engineering. “At the same time, Altia’s HMI software can draw and drive high-end 3D content using the Arm Cortex-A5x core. With the CR7 Reference Software solution, Altia will continue to provide high impact, high performance graphics to serve the varying needs of the multiple displays in an integrated cockpit application.”

Altia’s HMI software is available as part of the Renesas CR7 Reference Software. For more information, visit the Renesas R-Car M3e product page. Developers can request an Altia HMI image for their R-Car M3e board by requesting the R-Car Gen3e Safe Rendering Software package.

To learn more about designing, developing and deploying embedded HMIs for automotive applications with Altia, visit www.altia.com/get-started.

About Altia

Altia is a software company that provides graphical user interface design and development tools that can be used from concept to final production code. Our GUI editor, Altia Design, offers development teams the capability to implement a model-based development process enabling clear team communication and accelerated user interface development. Our code generator, Altia DeepScreen, supports a vast range of low- to high-powered processors from a variety of industry-leading silicon providers. Altia generates pure C source code that is optimized to take full advantage of hardware resources. Graphics code generated by Altia is driving millions of displays worldwide – from automotive instrument clusters, HUDs and radios to thermostats, washing machines and medical devices.  

Our mission is to get the best automotive, medical and consumer interfaces into production in the shortest time on the lowest cost hardware.   

Altia was founded in 1991. Its customers include automotive OEMs and Tier 1s like Continental Automotive, Denso, Stellantis, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Honda, Renault, Magneti Marelli, Nippon Seiki, Valeo, Visteon and more – plus leading consumer device manufacturers like Electrolux, Whirlpool, NordicTrack and many others.  

For more information about Altia, visit www.altia.com or email [email protected].  

Follow Altia on LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.  

Top UI / UX Trends for Medical Device Design

Medical device manufacturers are feeling a massive paradigm shift. Their products are being measured against smartphones, VR headsets and similar consumer technologies. As a result, medical devices must deliver a pleasant, intuitive and engaging user experience (UX). It’s not enough for medical device user interface (UI) to look sleek and advanced — every aspect of the interface must be fine-tuned to optimize usability and safety.

Current Medical Device Design Trends

With market expectations at an all-time high, medical device manufacturers are eager to meet those expectations by adding new features and improving their products. The following nine trends cover some ways medical device manufacturers can design experiences to meet and exceed rising standards.

1 – Interactive Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) allows people to experience real things in a virtual environment. Immersive, interactive, simulated environments provide excellent opportunities for training and learning. For example, a doctor can prepare for an advanced surgery using VR training exercises.

VR training is a safe way to practice procedures and get repetitions before seeing a live patient. Beyond the educational and surgical planning applications, VR can stimulate mental and physiological processes for patients. As medical device manufacturers identify additional use cases, VR is becoming more common in university research and hospital settings.

2 – Skeuomorphic Design

Improving medical device user interfaces has been a focus for years, particularly relying on recognizable visual cues to enhance the user experience. For example, a stethoscope icon or EKG readout symbol might replace the words “heart rate” on a medical device screen.

One of the primary benefits of such visual cues is that they empower language-agnostic designs. Text-based designs might require you to translate the phrase “heart rate” into numerous languages for potential users. An icon of a stethoscope or an EKG readout is clear regardless of whether the patient speaks English, Spanish or Chinese.

When conceptualizing visual design elements, medical device product teams can choose between flat and skeuomorphic designs. Flat design results in a simple, two-dimensional representation of an object. Adding skeuomorphic qualities like shadows and color variations can give elements the appearance of being shiny or existing in three dimensions.

Choosing a skeuomorphic design is one of the most prevalent healthcare UX trends today because it makes for visually appealing interfaces. However, skeuomorphic design isn’t always the answer. Flat design is still ideal in some situations:

  • For secondary and non-critical controls
  • When the device only contains one or two buttons
  • When on-screen cues help users differentiate interactive controls from static text

Skeuomorphic design touches like subtle gradients and drop shadows can give controls a more nuanced appearance. However, being too heavy-handed with it can do more harm than good to aesthetics and usability.

3 – Data Visualization

Visualizing patient data helps doctors and medical researchers gain valuable insights. Clear visualizations strip the complexity away from the data and bring the most helpful information to the forefront, allowing healthcare professionals to work more efficiently to provide fast and impactful patient care.

Instead of poring over a spreadsheet or writing database queries, patients and healthcare professionals can identify trends and outliers at a glance. Simple, straightforward data visualization also has a place in patient-facing medical devices. For example, Tandem Diabetes Care leveraged smart technology to transform their medical device UX.

4 – Interactive Chatbots

Interactive chatbots help patients access information and support with minimal friction. Providing instant answers to routine queries makes self-service easier for patients. People prefer that healthcare UI software to be interactive, and chatbots introduce a simulation of the human element. When chatbots handle monotonous and repetitive tasks, employees can focus on the work that requires human intervention.

5 – Voice Interface

Voice interfaces are becoming more useful — in your phone, at home and, now, in medical devices. Like interactive chatbots, voice interfaces provide patients and healthcare professionals with yet another way to access information quickly and conveniently.

Hands-free usability is especially valuable to patients who may not have full use of their hands. Voice interfaces give these patients the option to access application functions without help. Similarly, healthcare professionals can use voice interfaces to control technology without putting down their scalpels, needles or forceps.

6 – Customizable mHealth Apps

Mobile health apps are yet another way to increase the accessibility of information and functionality. Patients can use mHealth apps to take control of their healthcare from just about anywhere with email access. Customizable apps make the user experience more convenient, especially for patients who aren’t by a desktop or laptop all day.

mHealth apps increase patient engagement in a number of ways:

  • Sending reminders and allowing changes to appointments
  • Providing updates related to drug recommendations or other resources
  • Personalization of notifications and other features
  • Mobile tracking of health and fitness metrics
  • Offering video chat capabilities for telemedicine

Flexible customization makes mHealth apps easier to use and understand.

7 – Patient-Centric UI Design

Most of the growing healthcare UX trends share something in common. It’s all about putting patients at the center of the interface. From text size and typeface to the speed of screen scrolling, there are countless opportunities to make medical devices more pleasant and intuitive. When the device is created with the patient’s needs in mind then it’s likely that the patient will be more successful using it—less time and stress trying to figure out how to use the device, for example.

Ease of use is paramount, and not just for patients. For example, when Medtronic developed an FDA-Certified Medical device, they did so with the mindset that physicians and clinicians don’t have time to specialize in all kinds of different devices. Rather than putting the onus on healthcare providers to study the device, they created a simple touchscreen design with multi-language support.

8 – Flexible BOM Built In

Medical device OEMs have learned a lot of hard lessons during the chip shortage. When their device GUIs are limited to a single chip, production ceases when that chip becomes unavailable. This is a hard lesson that many device manufacturers have learned in recent times.

Designing flexibility into a GUI is a smart new strategy for keeping medical device production going for now and for the future. Selecting GUI design tools that support a wide range of hardware is key to that flexibility.

9 – Cloud-Based Design

Even beyond the chip shortage, the post-pandemic world creates challenges for all types of design teams and device manufacturers:

  • Dispersed teams
  • Supply chain issues
  • Shipping and labor costs
  • Disparate hardware-software stacks

All of these challenges can mean costly delays for GUI projects, so GUI teams are looking for ways to speed their development and reduce costs. Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) solutions like Altia CloudWare™ enable cloud-based design workflows to shrink or solve those problems.

Optimizing UX for Medical Devices

These nine trends are related as parts of a user-centric design philosophy. In the same way, every feature in a medical device must work together to create a cohesive user experience. Adding elements can help a product stand out and add more value for patients, but it’s also vital to implement features safely.

To see how Altia responds to medical device UI trends without increasing the risk of product failure, request your live demo.

Altia Announces DeepScreen GUI Code Running on Infineon XMC7200 MCU

Altia today announces that Altia DeepScreen-generated graphics code is running on an Infineon XMC7200 32-bit microcontroller (MCU). With a rich history for success deploying embedded GUIs for production embedded devices, Altia and Infineon can now offer the capability to deliver high-impact, optimized graphics for industrial devices like EV charging stations, electric motorbikes and other IoT applications.

The Infineon XMC7200D-E272K is designed to meet the requirements for industrial applications—and is a true programmable embedded system-on-chip, integrating two 350-MHz Arm® Cortex®-M7 as the primary application processor and one 100-MHz Arm® Cortex®-M0+. This MCU includes up to 8 MB flash and 1 MB SRAM. It also includes an embedded multi-media card (eMMC) interface for easily extending flash memory.

“Infineon’s XMC7200 MCUs offer best-in-class compute performance, equipped with dual Arm® Cortex® M7 cores, flash memory up to 8 MB and many other value-added features for high-end industrial applications, supporting next-generation embedded displays and advanced graphics,” said Lisa Kamp, Software Product Marketing Manager, Infineon Technologies. “With Altia’s highly efficient graphics code, this product pairing enables our customers to deliver rich embedded GUIs for powerful and cost-effective applications, all enabled directly within the ModusToolbox™ software ecosystem.”

Altia is keenly suited to delivering embedded graphics solutions to memory efficient MCUs like the Infineon XMC7200 series. The Altia Binary Asset Manager is employed to trim design graphics to make efficient use of memory. Runtime font engines are included to optimize text shaping and text kerning. Altia’s code generator employs efficient software rendering for speedy GUI content even on MCUs without graphics acceleration or a display controller. Because Altia’s code generation solutions do not rely on hardware acceleration for graphics, Altia-generated code can be deployed to any hardware—even applications without operating systems.

“We are pleased to expand our code generation support to include Infineon’s MCUs. Our partnership began years ago in the automotive sector with the earliest generation of their TRAVEO™ products. Today, we continue to partner with Infineon in automotive with support for the second generation of TRAVEO™, the T2G series—and we are extending our reach to industrial applications with the PSoC™ 6 and the XMC7200,” stated Jason Williamson, Altia’s Vice President of Marketing. “The smart architecture of our DeepScreen code generators enables high impact, small footprint GUIs for any hardware.”

For more information about designing, developing and deploying embedded GUIs for the Infineon XMC7200 series, visit www.altia.com/get-started.

About Altia 

Altia is a software company that provides graphical user interface design and development tools that can be used from concept to final production code. Our GUI editor, Altia Design, offers development teams the capability to implement a model-based development process enabling clear team communication and accelerated user interface development. Our code generator, Altia DeepScreen, supports a vast range of low- to high-powered processors from a variety of industry-leading silicon providers. Altia generates pure C source code that is optimized to take full advantage of hardware resources. Graphics code generated by Altia is driving millions of displays worldwide – from automotive instrument clusters, HUDs and radios to thermostats, washing machines and medical devices.

Our mission is to get the best automotive, medical and consumer interfaces into production in the shortest time on the lowest cost hardware.

Altia was founded in 1991. Its customers include automotive OEMs and Tier 1s like Continental Automotive, Denso, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Honda, Renault, Magneti Marelli, Nippon Seiki, Valeo, Visteon and more – plus leading consumer device manufacturers like Electrolux, Whirlpool, NordicTrack and many others.

For more information about Altia, visit www.altia.com or email [email protected].

Follow Altia on LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

How Game Design Tools Are Modernizing Automotive Cockpits

Video games are raising the bar for what’s possible for digital experiences, incorporating beautiful design elements like 3D graphics to create detailed images that delight consumers. Automotive HMI designers are trying to push the envelope with their cockpit display graphics, designing similar elements into their instrument clusters, infotainment systems and other car displays. We’ve started to see graphics created with Unity and Unreal Engine, for example, in automotive applications. But car displays aren’t video games—nor should they be treated that way. So how can OEMs deliver these powerful 3D scenes into their next generation HMIs?

Altia is the solution that bridges the gap between gaming software and a production HMI, enabling designers and developers to deliver gaming 3D design elements into their automotive cockpit displays.

Importing the Artist’s Vision

Some premium car brands already use expensive processors that can handle 3D gaming graphics. Automotive display designers want to offer beautiful HMIs for the entire brand fleet, so they’re challenged with finding creative ways to bring that same premium graphical experience to hardware better suited to mid- and entry-level vehicles.

There’s also the matter of complying with NHTSA requirements and ISO 26262. Gaming graphics companies are too busy enhancing their software for gaming applications to be concerned with meeting the many compliance and functional safety standards involved in automotive applications. An automotive-focused software partner who can leverage gaming graphics in HMI designs is necessary to accommodate these powerful 3D elements and mission-critical needs.

Altia helps make the artist’s vision fit within the automotive cockpit by importing graphics from these powerful gaming graphics software tools into HMI designs, thus enabling slick special effects, 3D, photo-realistic scenes and sophisticated lighting. Case in point: Altia’s flexible ecosystem architecture allowed Cadillac to leverage Unreal Engine in the automotive display without losing sight of automotive functional safety requirements.

Like other popular graphics tools and 3D authoring tools, Unity and Unreal have become part of the new path to embedded GUI success. Like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Maya and Blender, game engines empower artists to create better graphics faster. Altia Design brings together content from these various tools to develop an integrated solution.

Getting to Embedded Hardware

Unreal Engine and Unity can do a lot for your designers, but they can’t get them all the way into the automotive cockpit. These large engines are designed to run on gaming PCs, so they don’t have to be efficient enough to run on the embedded hardware used in automotive applications.

The two companies are busy serving the needs of the massive gaming market, so they don’t have the time to be focused on architecting their technology to accommodate automotive OEMs. Fortunately, Altia makes it possible to import graphical assets from cutting-edge 3D gaming software and make them viable for embedded GUI teams by:

  • Scaling down assets to run on hardware with fewer resources and better performance.
  • Rendering scenes more efficiently than native Unity or Unreal applications to account for the differences between a gaming PC and embedded hardware.
  • Adding rendering capabilities and features as embedded hardware improves.

General Motors leveraged Altia’s scalability features for 3D gaming graphics to design some elements of the passenger display in the Cadillac LYRIQ.

Why Unity and Unreal Need Altia to Revolutionize Automotive Cockpits

Altia provides automotive OEMs with features they can’t get from Unity and Unreal alone:

  • MISRA compliance for robust code
  • ASPICE development
  • Functional safety
  • Government standards like boot time, PRNDL and other NHTSA standards

At the same time, Unity and Unreal use more RAM and Flash than is typically available for an automotive display. It takes a third party like Altia to meet boot time and other needs for automotive robustness. Altia renders more efficiently to save power and resources, which is especially important as the world moves toward EVs.

How Altia Works with Game Engines

Altia is the avenue through which automotive display designers can bring advanced assets like 3D graphics into the automotive cockpit. There are various ways in which Altia can engage with Unity, Unreal or any other graphic tool.

The partnership can be as simple as importing files into Altia Design and generating code with DeepScreen. Embedded GUI teams from automotive and beyond are already leveraging this method to bring assets from their favorite design tools into Altia Design and then add the animations or behaviors necessary for the GUI before generating the production code that gets those pixels from their artists into production devices.

Alternatively, designers can use the game engine to do all the rendering in the cockpit. Altia serves as the third party to handle concerns such as the fast boot splash screen and safety content.

It all comes down to what the automotive OEM wants. To transfer a design from a game engine to Altia, the team can export the design as an FBX file. Unity and Unreal import from different sources, so Altia needs to import in a similar fashion to take advantage of more capabilities of the tools. There are other options for high-end GUI designs, too. Some tools’ engines can import glTF files and support OpenGL ES, but it won’t run as well on embedded hardware. Altia takes half of the memory and flash.

The Good News for Automotive Display Designers

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between modern HMIs and efficient rendering. You can do all your design on Unreal or Unity, then import your work into the Altia toolchain to make it safe and performant for production automotive applications. Unity and Unreal alone aren’t designed for automotive applications, but Altia can incorporate assets from these tools into HMI designs and bring these graphics to life in an automotive cockpit.

Vehicles are judged by many different standards. Increasingly, the quality of the automotive display is becoming one of the important components for drivers. Altia’s software and services help automotive display design teams make the most of the available technology to create HMIs that create a competitive advantage.

Now it’s possible to use assets from leading gaming design tools like Unity and Unreal in the automotive cockpit. Reach out today to Altia to learn more or get started.

New Sportage cluster_Altia

9 Ways Your GUI Software Might Be Letting You Down

Open-source software is attractive because there is no or low financial barrier to entry. Unfortunately, it leaves the door open to other costs. Developing and maintaining the GUI is 50% more expensive when you hand-code it. Then you have to pay for a commercial license if you don’t want to make your code open source. What started as a cost-saving measure sets you up for a long and expensive development cycle.

Alternatively, your GUI application development environment can accelerate design and delivery, even allowing you to test your design on real hardware as you build. Every job is easier with the right development tool. While you might not see heavy specialization from an open-source tool, some solutions and resources are made specifically with embedded GUI projects in mind.

Choose an Embedded GUI Tool That Helps, Not Hurts

Creating a great product isn’t easy, which is why some parts of the process must be simple. Choosing the right technology can prevent a lot of headaches for your embedded GUI team. These nine considerations will help you avoid common pitfalls and stay on the road to a successful release.

1 – Smaller Memory Footprint

Until money is no object, cost will always be a factor in the product development process. When manufacturers use the least expensive hardware, the product’s retail price will be more attractive to consumers. Every opportunity to reduce RAM and Flash requirements by 50% will show up in the bottom line, and vice versa.

For example, the budget for a smart thermostat cannot accommodate a $100 processor. The cost savings can also become dramatic as displays grow in size or complexity. Thoughtful architecture yields efficient code, keeping the hardware budget down. The ability to fit within a small memory footprint is especially vital for the code generated by low-code and no-code solutions.

2 – Low-Code or No-Code GUI Design

A small army of GUI developers can find ways to minimize the memory footprint, but such labor isn’t especially cost-effective. Low-code and no-code GUI design technology reduces engineering costs and the need for handoffs

If you’re a designer, draw a circle and drop it where you want it. No one has to think about the formula of a circle or how each pixel should display. When designers can use the software themselves, there’s less back-and-forth with engineers before it goes into manufacturing.

3 – Intuitive Usability

Altia customers report that using the right GUI design stack helps get teams up and running several times faster than other GUI application development environments. Any of the following might get you to market with less support and less wasted time:

  • Integrations such as MathWorks Simulink
  • Generalized API for a low learning curve
  • Easy porting of the GUI onto hardware

It’s one thing to sit down and design without code. It’s another to get all the way to launch.

4 – Turnkey Support of Low- to High-Capability Hardware

Scalable and portable production programs make iterative growth easier to manage. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the same GUI design should be deployable repeatedly. One multinational oven manufacturer has been able to roll out new features one after another on top of the existing code base.

5 – Optimized Use of 3D Graphics

Working with 3D graphics can become a cost center instead of an added value if your GUI development environment isn’t up to the task. Rendering realistic representations in medical devices or similar products is a lofty target. It might be worth considering all of the following:

  • Workflow to import 3D graphics
  • Native 3D content capabilities
  • Control over aesthetic quality

3D graphics are only impressive and useful when they’re done correctly.

6 – 100% Pure Native Code: No Black Boxes, No Minimum Footprint

Solutions that require a “black box” runtime engine enforce a minimum footprint that isn’t always favorable. Such solutions must be prepared for every capability the graphic library allows, regardless of whether the design needs it.

You can’t take the black box apart and might need more expensive hardware to fit everything. It doesn’t make sense to pay for 3D capabilities if you’re building a simple thermostat interface with a knob and a number.

Black box solutions are especially risky in applications like medical device manufacturing and anything that will go in a heavy machine. If you need certification or submit to an inspection, you’ll unlikely get access to the black box. This means getting another company involved and all the delays that come with that.

7 – Cloud-Based Collaboration

Can your global team collaborate on a single target? The cloud wasn’t invented for GUI designers to work together from their homes on the exact same hardware-software stack—but smart companies are working with innovative solutions that make that happen. For example, consider the off-highway EV company testing its design on real, cloud-based hardware. It’s one more way to keep the project on schedule with remote team members or during a chip shortage.

8 – Better Product Support

It’s one thing to have a large user community and another to offer live support. What kinds of resources are available for monitoring and triaging? Connecting with a key development engineer will almost always be faster than customer service from a lower-tier engineer.

9 – End-to-End Engineering Services

When your team needs experience or hours to keep up, all kinds of professional engineering services are available. Some GUI design environments have connections with third-party partners or known consultants but no capacity to complete the project themselves. Compare that to a major surgical device maker that saves time and resources with turnkey product delivery.

Faster Time to Market

The nine top considerations for GUI development environments all serve a common goal: getting a product to market more efficiently. Simple workflows shorten the path to profit, conserve resources, and ultimately provide a superior user experience. If you want to learn more, our team is happy to show you how Altia stacks up in any or all of these categories.

Free Trial – Altia Toolchain + CloudWare™

Evaluate and test your GUI on the full hardware-software stack remotely through an intuitive, Cloud-based platform. See the results in real time via live stream.

Key Benefits

  • Try Before You Buy – Access and Evaluate Hardware in Real-Time
  • Save Time – Find the Best Target Hardware for your Project
  • Collaborate Globally – Cloud-Based Tools and Unified Development Stack
  • No Emulation – Deploy GUI Code on Real Hardware 
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