Embedded Android system kicks starts IoT and M2M deployments

Paul Boughton

VIA Technologies has launched a compact, fanless sealed system running Android 4.3 to kickstart deployment of system for machine-to-machine (M2M) applications and the Internet of Things (IoT), writes Nick Flaherty.

The VIA ARTiGO A900 provides all the key components for building Android-based interactive kiosks, home automation devices, signage, and other HMI solutions in a single compact and durable system.

Featuring an optional Mini HDMI-in port as well as a Mini HDMI-out port, the ARTiGO A900 can be configured to blend locally-captured real-time video streams with cloud-delivered content to create visually-compelling interactive displays for retail, banking, museums, and other environments. Peripheral devices such as sensors, cameras, ticket printers, and barcode and fingerprint scanners can be easily integrated through the system’s Serial, Digital I/O, or USB 2.0 ports, to expand the overall functionality of the installation. 

“The VIA ARTiGO A900 takes the headache out of creating innovative embedded Android solutions for a wide variety of fast-emerging IoT and M2M scenarios that require advanced multimedia performance and versatile connectivity options,” said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division at VIA Technologies. “By providing a fully-integrated system that can be easily customized to meet the exact requirements of the target application, it not only significantly reduces development costs but also speeds up time to market.” 

Based on the ultra-compact VIA VAB-1000 Pico-ITX board, the ARTiGO A900 is powered by a 1.0GHz dual core VIA Elite E1000 Cortex-A9 system-on-chip with a high-performance 2D/3D graphics and video engine that supports Open GL ES 3.0 hardware acceleration and simultaneous multiple HD video playback.

The A900 delivers a rich set of I/O features through the front and rear panels of its ultra-compact fanless sealed chassis, measuring just 125mm x 30mm x 120mm (W x H x D). Front panel I/O includes three USB 2.0 ports and line-in/out audio jacks. Rear panel I/O includes two Mini HDMI ports for HDMI-in (project-based support) and HDMI-out, one Digital I/O port supporting 4-bit GPIO, one COM port supporting RS232/485, one Gigabit Ethernet port, one Micro SD card slot, one Mini USB 2.0 port, and one 12V DC-in jack.

The onboard mSATA and Mini-PCIe slots provide versatile system expansion options, including the integration of optional high-speed wireless networking capabilities through a choice of 802.11b/g/n and 3.75G HSP/UMTS mini-PCIe mobile broadband modules. Other onboard features include 2GB DDR3 SDRAM and 4GB eMMC Flash memory. Wake On LAN (WOL) support is also included, making the system an ideal solution for creating remotely-managed IoT devices for almost any environment.

The board support package (BSP) features Android 4.3 as well as the VIA Smart ETK comprising a number of APIs, including Watchdog Timer (WDT) for safeguarding against system crashes, GPIO access, COM port access, RTC for auto-power on, and a sample app. 

A full set of software customization services that speed up time to market and minimise development costs is also available.

The VIA ARTiGO A900 is available now. Samples of the system can be purchased online at the VIA Embedded Store at a price of US$350 plus shipping.