Advancing Firmware Customization

Today’s 3D sensor market faces a challenge much like the one Apple faced back when consumer hardware devices were “closed” products that came with a fixed set of functions. As history shows, Apple solved this challenge by making a bold and innovative move by introducing the App Store, which provided developers with the free tools and APIs that allowed them to develop and deploy their own applications on the iPhone.

Similarly, when you purchase a standard 3D sensor today, you get a product that can only perform a fixed set of functions. Even if the sensor is equipped with an embedded processor, the code running on that processor cannot be altered by the end user. Only the manufacturer can modify the firmware running in their products.

The Challenges of Firmware Customization Today

The state of the industry today requires customers to develop with an SDK (Software Development Kit) on a PC (if an SDK is available). An SDK will support the receipt of raw data from the sensor, at which point the customer can carry out special application development. There is no way to add custom measurement algorithms for processing onboard a sensor.

An SDK, however, may or may not provide the sensor’s full feature set. For example, the sensor may not be able to deliver data at the same speed that onboard processing can achieve, and as a result performance may suffer when using a PC.

The LMI Solution: GDK

In response to this challenge, LMI developed the GDK (Gocator Development Kit), which allows developers to build custom measurement algorithms and add them to standard Gocator 3D smart sensors.

The GDK delivers the cross-compiler tools and APIs that allow the user to add their own measurement algorithms to Gocator. With this tool, the user’s code is combined with the base firmware to produce a custom firmware that only customers can install and deploy.

GDK used for custom measurement algorithms

Custom measurement algorithms are compiled into Gocator Firmware using the GDK.

The GDK achieves two important goals by allowing the customer to:

  1. Develop code that runs in the sensor on a deterministic real-time OS without the need to add a PC, and;

  2. Control access to their IP. A standard Gocator will not work without the custom firmware, which only the customer can use to reflash a standard Gocator to create custom Gocators that will do the job.

The GDK is available, at no charge, to anyone who owns a Gocator 3D smart sensor and is running Gocator Firmware 4.x.