I just heard from my chum Jonathan Torkelson, who is President at Embeddetech. Jonathan and I got a chance to meet in person at an Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) a couple of years ago, at which time he introduced me to their Virtuoso platform. This little scamp (Virtuoso, not Jonathan) is an embedded system virtual device framework, allowing any idea for an electronic product to be virtualized for development.
Since our meeting, Virtuoso has grown to be a state-of-the-art general-purpose “Low-Code” platform (see also the IEEE Spectrum article, Programming Without Code: The Rise of No-Code Software Development). Furthermore, Virtuoso is built on a package management technology that allows anyone to contribute packages/components to the ecosystem, and also to easily sell licenses for their packages/components.
Jonathan says that this is the first completely open low-code general-purpose ecosystem that builds fully formed .NET applications that can be directly extended in C#. Even better, the use of Virtuoso’s “Core Framework” for building applications is free.
Unlike other low-code platforms, Virtuoso is well-suited for low-code “hardware-in-the-loop,” where you can interact with hardware components and not have to do any programming. The low-code software for this is also free and can be used to build applications that interact with the real world.
The reason this is of interest is that the QuickDAQ.mikroBUS is the hardware product that provides low-code access to Click boards from MikroE.
I just bounced over to MikroE’s website to peruse their Click board offerings. OMG is all I can say because there are hundreds of these little beauties.
Jonathan went on to tell me that Embeddetech is collaborating with MikroE on this Kickstarter campaign; also, that the folks at MikroE are providing discounted Click boards for the campaign (this platform creates a new low-code market for MikroE’s existing Click board product line, so the synergy is obvious).
I also have to say that I love the drag-and-drop interface demonstrated in the video. This is so simple that even I could use it (and that’s saying something).
The QuickDAQ.mikroBUS can be thought of as a board that provides your computer with the same low-level peripherals that a microcontroller has, such as GPIO, analog input, PWM, SPI, I2C, UART, etc. It comes with a standard .NET class library and can be used in any normal .NET application, so in that sense it can be thought of as a Data Acquisition (DAQ) board, thus the name “QuickDAQ.”
The QuickDAQ product line also provides low-code hardware-in-the-loop for a variety of chipsets, for example the QuickDAQ.RN4020 provides low-code interfacing to Microchip’s RN4020 Bluetooth module, thereby allowing you to incorporate a real-world Bluetooth module into your virtual embedded hardware environment (Jonathan says they have used this one themselves with great success for a number of their engineering contracts).
So there you have it — all you have to do is drag-and-drop your components, write your embedded software, verify and validate in a virtual environment, and “Bob’s your uncle” (or aunt, depending on your family dynamic).
What say you? Can you see this technology finding a place in your own development environment?