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Esprit Project 26390 - Provision of OMI Information Dissemination Service


The PROMISE project aimed to improve the effectiveness of OMI's information dissemination by providing support to help and encourages users and project participants with exploitation of results. The dissemination action included an OMI promotional newsletter, and attendance at appropriate dissemination events. PROMISE collected information, identified opportunities and instigated promotion activities and provided feedback for strategy and planning. PROMISE issued newsletters and bulletins and organised the OMI conference (EMMSEC) that was be held in Florence in November 1997.




Information dissemination, electronic commerce, multimedia, embedded systems.




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PROMISE Results - EMMSEC Conference

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Hardware and OMI

Whose software makes the world go around

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Keeping the motor of the European economy in good condition

As a major consumer of embedded systems and applications, Europe’s transport industry is a prime mover in the design, development and commercialisation of embedded systems and applications. As a cornerstone of the European economy, the automotive sector consumes around 15 per cent of all European-produced microprocessor systems, and ensures the employment of more than 4 million people in Europe. Altogether, some 8 million jobs in total depend on the fortunes of the transport industry and related sectors - representing around 7 per cent of the European Union’s Gross National Product (GNP). Success in maintaining the economic well-being and competitive edge of the transport industry is therefore vital to Europe’s prosperity.

ESPRIT domain 5 - Open Microprocessor Systems Initiative (OMI) has been active in helping to maintain the Transport industry’s economic well-being. This has been achieved through support not only for innovative Research and Technology Development (RTD) via collaborative industrial projects, but also via several accompanying measures. An integral objective has been to stimulate, promote and develop new business and project relationships between Europe’s giant multinationals - with their multi-skilled, multidisciplinary organisation, and Europe’s giant repository of Small & Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs) - with their niche expertise and distinctive competence.

Supporting Innovation - Transporting Europe to Tomorrow

Flexibility, standards, communication (in technical and human senses of the word), innovation, strong market orientation - all these are watchwords which occur time and time again in the objectives, approach and benefits realised from OMI projects of any description. And nowhere are they possibly more pertinent than in the Transport industry.

For the automotive industry, producing in excess of 15M passenger cars alone a year, each with anything from 8 to 48 embedded microprocessor systems, standards (to reduce cost of implementation) and inter-processor communication (to improve reliability & safety) are key attributes. For the aerospace industry, even with much lower volumes of vehicles (currently around 500 commercial aircraft and 100 satellites a year), the business issues related to all these aspects are equally as important.

With the collapse of military markets, for example, European satellite manufacturers are under immense pressure to reduce cost of on-board embedded systems, reduce development costs - and yet remain technologically one step ahead of the competition. With the loss of lucrative military contracts to finance new developments, the technological and cost leadership necessary to underpin commercial survival can only occur if component volume is sufficient to drive down prices. This itself leads to a situation of paradox. High volumes of sales will financially induce suppliers to increase the rate of obsolescence of devices. But this in turn drives end-users to demand standardisation, so to avoid the entrapment that too much technological advance too quickly can bring with it.

In its support of embedded systems & applications RTD for Europe’s transport industry, OMI can be judged as having succeeded in maintaining the equilibrium between innovation and standardisation.

When is an ECU not an ECU?

To choose but two illustrative examples from the plethora of automotive industry projects supported by OMI, consider firstly the CORE2000 project. The aim has been to develop a cost-effective engine management system, optimised to meet the Euro2000 regulations on permissible levels of exhaust gas pollutants. This has resulted in the development of an innovative microcontroller and associated interface software - allowing your service garage to better diagnose and adjust the condition of your engine so as to meet strict anti-pollution requirements of the next millennium.

On the other hand, as embedded car-borne electronic systems grow inexorably in both number and complexity, the duplication of microcontroller(microprocessor)-based resources (known as ECUs in the automotive industry - Electronic Control Units) in different items of equipment can become costly in Ecu (European Currency Unit) terms. Reducing complexity and cost demands the use of networking technologies to place data generated by any given ECU at the disposal of other ECUs in the car.

European (non-transport) industry has held a leading position since the 1980s in the field of networked, numerically-controlled machines. OMI’s support of the automotive industry’s uptake of the CAN (Controller Area Network) protocol is exemplified by two projects. REJALNET has developed CAN interface protocol
libraries to facilitate the cost-effective design of software tools. And as a complement to this effort, MODISTARC has developed conformance testing methodology to allow validation of such tools in readiness for their commercial exploitation. In this way, OMI aims to facilitate and reinforce the uptake of this IS0 data communications standard by automotive industry embedded system designers.

Ensuring the Information Engine Runs Smoothly

Winning new market share, and ensuring best chances of success in price-sensitive markets, is underpinned by many of the standardisation initiatives supported by OMI. These place a heavy emphasis on Accompanying Measures which are specifically aimed at supporting communication and awareness. Such marketing-oriented actions are additionally of prime importance in promoting the wider uptake by industry of the innovative RTD results from OMI-funded projects.

OMI’s own management office, OMIMO, through its Web site and newsletter publications, has been instrumental in ensuring that project results have been able to reach as wide a readership as possible. And in harmony with OMIMO is the User Group founded by OMI and specifically targeted at support of the transport industry. Baptised by its adherents as “SURGE-Transport”, this trans-industry group is supported by more than 70 major multinationals and innovative SMEs, embracing automotive, aerospace & rail vehicle manufacturers, and their suppliers of embedded systems components.

Market research carried out by the SURGE-Transport Group reveals that between 75 to 80 per cent of all transport embedded systems OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) develop there own real-time micro component software operating systems - often on a project-by-project basis. The reuse of existing software is not a priority. And each new development pushes further back any possibility of standardisation - that is, of open, embedded microprocessor systems.

More perniciously, the demands of the marketplace mean that opportunities to develop affordable, custom architectures and software are under constant erosion. This is exacerbated by an ever-shortening commercial lifetime of applications, as well as by economic pressure to restrain embedded system costs relative to overall vehicle cost. Available time-to-market is shrinking continuously.

The SURGE-Transport Group in particular represents an information engine specifically targeted at the needs of Europe’s transport industry. Undertaking market surveys on various needs - and ensuring knowledge of these needs are widely disseminated - provides companies in any given sector with a view on the needs of others. In so doing, this presents prime opportunities to explore synergy and cooperation in the quest for best-of-class technology and continual cost reduction.

Reinforcing the ability of European industry indigenous base of innovative expertise embodied in SMEs and ensuring their fullest participation as valued Partners to the success of collaborative projects, has likewise been an important objective of OMI. This strategy has been expressed through the business development forum activities of SURGE-Transport and OMIMO, and the project consulting services offered by User Support Node projects such as PrOMInent and eurOMIc. And the prime importance of rapid return on investment to such companies serves to underscore further the strong market orientation that has been characteristic of the entire OMI programme.

Back to the Future: Returning Benefits from Investments

The OMI programme was conceived as a focussed cluster - aimed at fostering cross-sector and inter-industry collaboration, capable of lasting far beyond the lifetime of any given RTD project.

The success of such collaboration has been and will continue to be fundamental to the ability of all sectors of the European transport industry to invest in the design, development, and commercial deployment of embedded systems and applications.

Most importantly, the support of OMI will have translated directly into the return of real benefits to economic and natural environments, to companies and their employees, and to the European citizens who ultimately stand to profit most from the benefits conveyed by such collaboration.


0MI Bulletins are occasional leaflets published by the OMI PROMISE project.
0MI,The Open Microprocessor systems Initiative, is a programme set up by the European Information Technology industry and the European Commission in the framework of Esprit the European strategic Programme for Research and Development in Information Technology.




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