Torizon allows us to integrate partner software in our continued testing infrastructure, so our customers don’t need to worry about third-party software integration, notes Daniel Lang l Chief Marketing Officer l Toradex whilst talking to BIS Consultant Editor, Niloy Banerjee, about Torizon, the recently announced software product and what the customers can look forward alongside Toradex’s way forward. Edited Nub.
Q1.) You recently announced a software product. Please provide more details.
We announced the beta of Torizon, an easy-to-use Industrial Linux platform. It comes free with our Arm-based System on Modules. It is designed to provide an intuitive, secure base operating system that allows for easy over-the-air updates. This was based on feedback from our customers about the steep learning curve and maintenance effort required for our maximally customizable, production-quality Linux BSP based on the Yocto Project.
We looked for alternatives, and after an in-depth evaluation of many OSs, such as Android, Windows 10 IoT Core, Commercial RTOS and different Linux flavors, we decided that for most of our target customers, a Linux-based system in the best choice. However, that meant we had to improve on ease-of-use. The result was Torizon, a small Linux distribution which contains an over-the-air update client and the docker container runtime. The containerization simplifies software maintenance. We also provide integration with popular tools, such as Visual Studio and Qt. It’s optimized for connected devices with secure and safe remote update capabilities.
Q2.) Do you plan on having similar products in the future?
We plan to use Torizon as a platform and extend it over time. Toradex has a large partner ecosystem for software and services. Torizon allows us to integrate partner software in our continued testing infrastructure, so our customers don’t need to worry about third-party software integration.
You can also expect more functionality involving updates, device management, provisioning, and so on.
Q3.) Why this shift in focus?
We don’t really see it as a shift in focus. While Toradex continues to only sell hardware, we have always had most of our engineering efforts invested in software. Originally, Toradex became famous for its high-quality, intuitive Windows CE OS which was preinstalled on the SoMs. With the increasing popularity of Linux, Toradex focused on a high-quality Linux BSP and support — and while the Yocto Project provided flexibility, it was difficult to make it as simple to use as Windows CE / Windows Embedded Compact. With Torizon, we bring the simplicity back while taking advantage of the Linux ecosystem, so it’s ideal for people moving from Windows CE / Windows Embedded Compact while providing the quality required for industrial, medical and other critical applications.
Q4.) Tell us about your company’s 5-year growth plan?
Toradex is growing fast, something we expect will continue in years to come. We are currently hiring all over the world. Over the next five years, we will continue expanding Torizon with more services and features — not only from Toradex, but also from our partners.
With the increased connectivity, we see new requirements, such as better security and over-the-air updates. We will provide solutions that simplify these challenges for our target customers. There are also new hardware products in the pipeline, and you can expect more comprehensive integration with many of the peripherals our partners provide. This will further simplify product development.
Q5.) What makes Toradex a global game-changer?
Toradex provides an unmatched developer experience when it comes to industrial product development. Our documentation, ecosystem and support together provide a fast, low-risk way to bring a product to market. In the last 15 years, Toradex has built a track record of providing the highest-quality products with over 10 years of availability and product support. Our focus on pin-compatibility allows customers to stay flexible and reuse their existing work for different products.
Q6.) Your company is 15 years old now. What have been your top 3 contributions to the industry?
- Ease-of-use for industrial embedded product development: As mentioned above, we simplified how hardware and software development is done in our industry.
- The direct online sales model: When we started selling our first product in 2005, we set a new standard for how to purchase computer modules, with a simple online store and transparent pricing. There are no contracts, no minimum order quantities, and no negotiations. This model worked especially well in Europe. We still have this as the core of our business, but we have also adjusted for regional differences, so we’re set up to better handle different kinds of customers.
- Lowering the cost of ownership for products with small to medium volumes: Toradex focuses on customers whose products run from a few hundred to a couple thousand pieces a year, so these are not high-volume products. We lower development and maintenance costs for these projects. We also make many technologies that were once available only for high-volume projects accessible to these customers.
Q7.) Please provide a brief profile of yourself.
I studied electrical engineering in Switzerland. In my early career, I worked for a big elevator company to connect them to the internet. I joined Toradex in 2005, when we launched our first product. Initially, I worked on driver development and helping customers to integrate our modules. Over 10 years ago, I moved to Seattle, where I now serve as Chief Marketing Officer for Toradex globally.