SPARK Project #1, Post #5 Part 2

Computers & Mobile
SPARK Project #1, Post #5 Part 2


Let’s begin this SPARK post with a recap. I began this series with the notion that I would use a simple project, a smart home computer system, to explore a software development tool that was new to me. The first project was simple in the sense that I had a well-defined task: acquire several digital and analog signals and display information to a user. Through that simple task, I could explore the features and development process for Windows Embedded CE 6.0. When I started this project, I had not used Windows Embedded CE before, but I had used several other real-time operating systems to implement high reliability devices. These development tools are intricate and sophisticated. I’ve seen very experienced users struggle while implementing new projects, and struggled through some myself.

There is a fascinating world of very high reliability systems that are part of our everyday lives. Many of these systems are driven by software. As a biomedical engineer, I have a real appreciation for what software failure means for a pacemaker, defibrillator, or infusion pump.

Given the sophistication of RTOSs, I was definitely intrigued when asked to explore Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 for the maker community. I have a long list of unfinished projects that have stalled because I don’t have access to the right tools, and a longer list of projects that live only as ideas on paper, waiting for some future capability to arrive. A feature-rich RTOS could really accelerate some of those project, and I was impressed by the list of features available with Windows Embedded CE, and the fact that the source code is available to developers. In addition to a great set of core operating system components, the communication, user interface, and multimedia components of Windows Embedded CE looked comprehensive. The speech library totally piqued my interest as well. I was definitely thinking about which unfinished projects would be most fun to try my new tools with. Of course, there is the history of Windows Embedded CE to deal with. The tools have made successful inroads into the professional developer community, but I didn’t know anyone who used them for their own projects who could help me out. Even Microsoft’s developer website gives the impression that the tools are “for professional use only“.

Find out what I learned here.


This SPARK Your Imagination Make: Windows Embedded project series is sponsored by Microsoft Corporation.

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Kipp Bradford is a technology consultant and entrepreneur with a passion for making things. He is the Senior Design Engineer and Lecturer in Engineering at Brown University, where he teaches several engineering design and entrepreneurship courses. Kipp is also on the Technical Advisory Board for Make Magazine.

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