(2008-2010) The proposed project aims at exploring the possibilities for future R&D cooperation between the participating institutions in the above mentioned fields.
The development of computer, information and communication technologies has, by now, led to a new situation that is characterised by the practically unlimited data processing, storage and transmission capacities, and the fact that “IT is available at all times and everywhere”. The wide spread of embedded systems (i.e. digital systems controlled by processors and programs) and wireless networks has special significance. On the one hand, embedded systems augment the functionality of the objects that surround us, and increase the built-in intelligence that operate them, to an extent never experienced before. On the other hand, wireless networks allow these objects to autonomously connect to and co-operate with each other that never occurred earlier.
One of the most promising application areas of the new technological opportunities is ambient assisted living (AAL), also called assistive applications. These include systems that supervise and assist the everyday life of the elderly, of people living with disabilities, and of those, who are in need of rehabilitation, care, nursing, etc. In a broader sense, assistive applications also include systems that monitor the life functions of vehicle drivers, sportsmen and people doing leisure time exercises. Further, they include systems that monitor the activities and movements of people working at dangerous workplaces, or the proper operation of buildings and homes (cf. intelligent buildings, intelligent homes and living surroundings). The ability of being reconfigurable, reusable, flexible, and rapidly prototyped is the main reason for success in various fields of applications; one of them is the design and application of embedded systems. This includes not only safety-critical applications such as automotive devices and controls, aerospace and medical devices, but also communications, 'mobile worlds' and 'e-worlds', 'smart' homes, clothes, factories, etc. More than 98% of the processors applied today are in embedded systems, and are no longer visible as smart computers in the ordinary sense. Today, the development trend of measurement and control technology is transferred from functionality-defined-by-manufacturer to functionality-defined-by-user with a certain adaptation and intelligence capability.
This situation is made possible by advanced programmable logic devices and tools such as Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) offering the highest range of integration complexity and functionalities. FPGAs can be configured to perform a given function by means of a configuration bit stream, and therefore permit the implementation (personalisation) of digital systems. Additionally, current FPGAs provide other embedded functional blocks, like microcontrollers, RAMs, and embedded arithmetic operators, depending on the targeted application field. Programmable logic devices offer many advantages (small size, low power consumption, etc.) where the ability to allow customized parallel processing is perhaps the most beneficial of all. Besides their inherent parallelism, the other outstanding benefit of this technology is the ability to be reprogrammed in the field of operation.