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SECO Uses Edge AI for Security, Medical, Industrial Apps

SECO describes how it uses the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO Toolkit and Intel Functional Safety (FuSa) technology to transition the company from embedded supplier to point AI solution provider. For medical, industrial, and defense applications, SECO runs its Edgehog IoT and Astarte AI platforms on Intel Atom® x6000E series processors, incorporating FuSa to pre-certify them to meet demanding safety requirements. SECO is also developing new SMARC products based on Intel® processors. For future applications, it is looking to use the Intel® Edge Software Hub to speed development.


Host: Hello, and welcome to this training on, AI on the Edge for Security, Medical, and Industrial Use-Cases. Today, we’ll be hearing from Michael Duhamel from SECO, who will explore how to simplify development of an end application and maximize its performance in safety critical environments, while also reducing development costs and time to market. Let’s get started. Michael, take it away.

Michael Duhamel: Hi, my name is Michael Duhamel and I’m the vice president of sales for SECO USA. And I’m based outside of Boston and our U.S. Headquarters is based out of Rockville, Maryland. And, just a real quick blurb about SECO, we’ve been in the embedded space for about 40 years, serving customers in Europe. And during that 40 years, we have achieved a level of success that our investors a couple of years ago wanted us to replicate that success here in the U.S.

So we acquired another very well-established company, InHand, and they’re based in Rockville, Maryland, and we’re positioned to really grow significantly over the coming years. This team in Rockville, also, in addition to having an embedded expertise, they are getting up to speed quickly on our Edgehog IoT platform and our Astarte AI platform. Now, what we’re trying to do as a company is, we are trying to go from being just an embedded supplier to being a supply that can provide point to point solutions and a supplier that can provide artificial intelligence decisions right out on the edge. So the services that we can provide to our customers going well beyond the embedded solutions we have been providing.

In addition to having acquired InHand over the past year, and building up our presence in the U.S. We’re also planning an IPO over the next couple of months. And again, that will help us to further accelerate our growth and make the investments we need in artificial intelligence, in IoT. SECO over the last 40 years, we’ve developed a very broad, diverse portfolio of embedded computing and those computers can range from SOMs to single board computers, to carrier board. And our business model is to use those as the basis for our new customers to evaluate our products. And then once they’ve completed that evaluation and they start going into production, our business model is that, we will modify those to meet the customer’s specific use-case requirements.

So that’s an overall view of how we develop our products and how we tailor them for customer applications. But what we’re looking at now is just one of our many products, and this is one of our newer ones, is the SM-C93, where "SM" is smart. That’s the form fact that this product is based on, and it’s a C93, which is based upon the Intel Atoms x6000E series and the Intel Pentium and Intel Celeron and in J series, formerly known as Elkhart Lake or the EHL, and for FuSa applications. You’ll notice these are all power optimal Intel processors. We have other form factors that can accommodate higher performance Intel processors, but those higher end processors are not optimal for this lower profile, lower power form factors, like the SMARC.

So just an overview of this product ... and the reason why we’re bringing this up, the reason why we’re starting with the hardware is because, this is just one example of the hardware platforms that SECO is tightly integrating its Edgehog IoT, and it’s Astarte AI platforms onto these products.

And so this is just ... We’re standing with the hardware, and then we’ll talk more and more about what we’re doing on the IoT and the AI space. This is like I mentioned, the SMARC based upon the x600E series, you can see that it has a very rich IO in terms of the ethernet and USB, and high-speed, and also the generation 11 UHD graphics control capability with three independent displays, and also that, we use LPDDR4 soldered down memory. So just to kind of a overview of this product. This just gives you a matrix of the different IA Intel SKUs that we support on this product. Again, ranging from the different x6000E versions up to the Pentium and the Celeron processor versions. And again, you can see that the TDP for all of these SKUs are relatively low as compared to some of the higher end Intel performance processors.

I just want to spend a minute. So, we talked about SMARC and I didn’t mention this, but during the last 40 years, SECO established itself as a major contributor in the embedded space, because it made a lot of investment in helping to define some of the computer standards that have evolved over the years. And, we were initially involved in helping to define the Q7 standards, and now we’re playing a similar active role with the SMARC standards. And the reason SMARC is so optimal for some of the use-cases, is its extreme low power design, low-profile design, dedicated battery management signals, up to four display interfaces, the dual ethernet, and also the very compact design of the design itself. There is a couple of things that SECO provides on a consultatory level.

As I mentioned, we do all of our own internal environmental testing. We share that with our partners, but we’re also, especially here in the U.S., we’re willing to expand our role to include certification and final product certification compliance. And, when I mentioned that SMARC is more of a lower end, lower profile, lower power form factor, better suited for some of the lower end, x86 Intel processors. We do have other form factors such as the newer high performance COM module, a type A COM module that we just came out with, that is based on the COM express and is much better at accommodating the higher i3, i5, and i7 and later generations of high-performance x86 computers. So, I just wanted to mention that we focus on that one product, but that’s just one small part of our overall product portfolio.

So some of the selling features of ... we’ve already touched upon them, some of this product. Well, first it is ... We are targeting this product for medical and for industrial applications. In some cases, military here in the U.S. The FuSa interface signals with the IEC61508, and the ISO 13849, that’s critical that we design our products to be compatible with that, so that pre-certified components can handle the very most demanding security applications. So, that’s a very important aspect, that we do design our products to support this capability. And then now, down on the lower left, you’ll see the various amounts of different video display interfaces we have, the different SPI bus, I-squared-C bus. So yeah, it just goes into more details as the extended capabilities. Now, one of the things I would mentioned about this is, so we have the feature, we have this product, we have all this capability, but also SECO does its own manufacturing.

So we also have complete ownership of this product. We have complete ownership of its development, its entire beginning to end in the product life, any issues that come up, we do all of our own internal environmental testing and we share all that with our customers. So we’re very much a partner play with our customers. And in addition to that, a SOM module, in case you don’t know, requires a carrier board and most of our customers will design that carrier board on their own, but they will look to SECO to help leverage our cycles of learning in this space. And we’ll give them advice. We’ll do design reviews for them. We’ll share parts of our carrier board schematics with them, so they can just drop it down on their design and accelerate time to market. So that’s the consultatory side of SECO and what we bring our customers.

And here are a few use-cases, the medical imaging and video portable medical equipment and the clinical workstation and on the right, robotics, industrial automation and control, and HMIs. And again, this just gives you a snapshot of some of the use-cases that we’re targeting. When I talk about the consulting services, those two other areas I’d like to mention, in addition to having an IoT platform EdgeHog and Aspero on the IA side, we also have teams back in Italy, that are dedicated to providing consulting services on optimizing these two platforms for customers needs. So, we do have teams that are dedicated to providing those services also. So again, going just beyond being a embedded supplier, SECO also takes a lot of steps with both on a hardware and a software on security, like the TPM on the hardware side, we have that capability.

We provide that with some of our products, but we also provide security levels in our lower level BIOS software, like change confirmation and authentication. We work closely with companies like Wind River, to help integrate some of their security layers. So the security stuff that we’re also working on ...

Intel is very much focused and committed to the distribution of its OpenVINO and something that SECO is also very much committed to that. And if you look at just over the past several months, how has SECO been leveraging the Intel distribution of its OpenVINO to enabled SECO’s AI solution? Then one of the things we’ve been doing is we use the OpenVINO framework for the image recognition application and Clea for the edge to cloud communications. We haven’t yet used the other parts of the Intel software stack, like the Intel Edge Software Hub, but we are looking for those opportunities.

Also, the SECO R and D team has spent significant time getting trained by Intel in Italy. As a result of that collaboration, we developed a concept that would enable a security camera use-cases. Not only did we get trained, but we actually sounds like we came up some pretty interesting use-cases that could evolve from that. And lastly, SECO is introducing OpenVINO to the University of Siena and to several customers who are using the cameras and industrial use-cases. Once we get these partners familiarized with the OpenVINO, our customers at the business models, that our customers typically take on the development of their final application for their specific market segment. And then they’ll roll that work back into our Aspero and our EdgeHog platforms. Well, thanks for your attention and for your time. And we’d like to segue into a Q and a session. And so please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.