Our Electronics: The Top-10 of Promwad Development Projects

Today we are publishing the article about electronics development for mass production. During the past year and a half we have been writing about all design stages for new devices: from an idea to an after-sale service.

​Now, the time came to show real examples of our own developments which we carry out for our customers in Russia, EU, USA and Canada. So below you will see a review of the Top 10 break-through projects of Promwad, the largest design-house in Eastern Europe, which offers a full cycle of custom electronics development. In our company’s founders’ opinion, these developments were innovative for their time, both in terms of technology and business solutions.

10 years ago, the founders of the company were a small team of like-minded people, graduates of technical colleges, who believed in their strengths after successful implementation of the first projects:

1. A controller board of an information display

Far in 2005… It was our first project with applying systems on a chip and OS Linux. Back at that time those ones who were fans of Linux were considered freaks, but for Promwad that specialty gave an undisputable advantage and allowed to successfully take its niche in the market. It was an advanced development at the time: open source + embedded web server + flash, all on x86 architecture at the cost of PCB below $100.  

2. JPEG2000 Digital video recorder

This project was implemented 6 years ago, but still it has not lost its relevance. We designed a device that digitizes analog video and audio using a hardware codec, and then compresses the data and sends it to a remote server over a slow radio channel.

Software was developed on the basis of free open components and finished firmware was only 1.5 MB, a little bit more, and the whole system could fit in a standard 3.5" floppy disk. Video recording started a second after turning the device on! Back at that time, for Linux, it was unbelievable.

3. DVB-T Set-top box

Back in 2009 before an official confirmation of the state program for the transition to digital TV, we successfully finished our first STB project. It was a full cycle development both of hard- and software. The first batch was 1,000 items.

After the task completion with the set-top box we began a fruitful cooperation with a famous Swiss company STMicroelectronics which is one of the global leaders of microchips for multimedia electronics. Choosing ST was conscious, we analyzed solutions of all brands that somehow marked themselves in the Russian market, and chose the best one (by the criteria of cost + Linux support + development technical support).

4. SmartLabs IPTV set-top box

We are proud of this development! It is our first project with one million items produced. In 2009 Russian company SmartLabs gave us a complicated assignment: to develop a turnkey device that supports IPTV, OTT PVR (MPEG-2/4 and 3D/HD-video support) media player services and launch mass production within 9 months, and that is what we did! 

We follow the success of that development: in 2011 Rostelecom chose the TV set-top box for its Federal program, and signed a contract with our customer a $50 million contract. Also that device became a platform for Home TV MTS service. And in 2012 SmartLabs company entered the market of media centers with MOYO project, where they use a set-top box designed by Promwad.

5. Jade Automotive Platform

It is our first project with a large Japanese chip vendor. We developed a processor module based on OS Embedded Linux and a motherboard for a Fujitsu Jade graphics controller which is used in automobile dashboards. Company Fujitsu uses our platform as an official developer’s evaluation kit for this particular line of processors.

Jade platform significantly allows speeding up the development time for a complicated automobile on-board equipment because most complicated elements are already implemented there: BGA components for the processor and for the memory, a data transfer bus, on OS, and development kits and examples of graphics interfaces applications. 

6. 5D cinema

It is the biggest project conducted for a local Belarusian customer, Entertainment technologies company. We developed an entertainment complex from scratch: a mobile platform with seats for spectators, a multimedia hardware and software system to create and playback video with special effects and a user interface.

The most pleasant stage of the project was testing. We brought the equipment right in our office building and watched movies with it.

The project was successful for us and for the customer who decided to risk, in order getting further financing of the project, and sold several cinemas to its customers before the development was completed. And we did not let them down.

By the way, our first project for 4D-cinema we completed back in 2008, when that field was only at its birth stage. Today, our solutions can be used not only for entertainment, but also in simulators development for aviation, automotive and for special equipment.  

7. A Black Box for an automobile

it is a unique product designed for a US customer. At the time of its development the device did not have any analogues in the world.

That compact data logger connected to the car via a standard OBDII connector, tracks the route, detects dozens of technical parameters, records passengers’ conversations in the cab, and transmits all the information wirelessly to the coordination center. The gadget is designated for car hire services, and another important quality is parent control because in the USA a driver’s license can be issued to 14-17-year old teenagers.

For this device we developed software based on Embedded Linux, we also developed design and structure of the enclose. In order to write the code, we used a new subsystem, SocketCAN, to work with CAN-bus which by that time had just appeared in Linux core.   

8. IP-Plug mini server

The first commercial plug-computer and our first project on a Marvell processor in Russia. We developed a turnkey device ordered by AK-Systems company.

In such a tiny box there are a number of useful functions: it can be set it as a normal full-fledged computer or a server. You plug it in a normal 220V socket and the computer operates 24 hours with minimal power consumption.  

Due to flexible software settings, at the present time IP-Plug is capable to replace more cumbersome and expensive devices in the telecommunications field.

9. AK1100 Thin client

Another interesting development for AK-Systems company, a light version of a desk-top computer with data processing at a remote server. 

Within this project we made devices similar to Dell and HP, but we also provided cost and production control services. Three operation systems are available to choose for operation, and it is possible to modify the software for specific applications.

As a result, our customer received a product, which was designated to replace expensive PCs in offices which is the right solution for a declining market (it was 2011). 

10. A network router

Our first project in the field of telecom subscription service, complicated development of a Gigabit LAN/WAN/WiFi router for 5 ports with VoIP and IPTV support.

The list of technical characteristics of the device takes 4 pages: more than a dozen of different interfaces, about two dozens of network protocols and advanced routing and security settings. One of the main features is TriplePlay, due to this function a user can use a broadband cable to simultaneous run of three services: high-speed Internet, cable TV and telephone communication.

We hope that our Top-10 List will let you believe in your own strength and inspire you to implement your own projects in Hi-Tech field. Because even a 1,000 mile trip starts with a little thing: the first step. We were able to confirm that by our own experience that a good idea + strong team = successful development.

P.P.S. Nine of the Top-10 projects in this list were made on Open Source software technology (OS Embedded Linux and STLinux).


Categories: Design and Architecture, Electronics, Production and Manufacturing

Tags: electronics, electronics design, electronics development, embedded software development, Engineering, hardware design, Manufacturing, mass production

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About Promwad

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Promwad is an independent electronics design house that creates new electronics products and develops custom software.
From conceptualization to mass production, Promwad carries products through the entire development cycle.

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