Smart Solutions for Smart Displays

Digital displays are finding their way into all kinds of cost- and power-sensitive applications, from restaurant menu boards to battery-powered industrial equipment. There’s a growing need for simple solutions to drive these displays that will make every milliwatt and dollar count.

That’s where embedded hardware modules like the SECO SOM-SMARC-MX93 shine. Designed to support medical, transportation, industrial automation, and more, this module offers impressive visual capabilities in a small, cost-effective form factor.

As the name suggests, the SOM-SMARC-MX93 is built on the Smart Mobility ARChitecture (SMARC) standard. Defined by the Standardization Group for Embedded Technologies (SGET), this credit-card-sized form factor streamlines the design of low-power, low-cost, high-performance applications. Supporting up to 4 display interfaces, SMARC is also scalable, future-proof, and highly configurable.

Modules built according to the SMARC standard are examples of Computer on Module (COM), A COM, also sometimes called System on Module (SOM), includes an embedded processor, memory, storage, and other basic computing functions. Incorporating a COM onto an application-specific carrier board enables product designers to purchase the complex but typically standard computing engine and focus on adding their core intellectual property – minimizing time to market, development costs, and program risks.

Making displays smarter

The NXP i.MX 93 applications processors at the heart of the SOM-SMARC-MX93 bring impressive capabilities to smart displays. These applications processors are the first in the i.MX portfolio to integrate the scalable Arm Cortex-A55 core, bringing new levels of performance and energy efficiency to Linux-based edge applications. They also include the Arm Ethos-U65 microNPU for cost-effective and energy-efficient machine learning applications—ideal for displays that require voice- or vision-based interfaces. Combined with the inherent strengths of the SMARC architecture, this creates a host of benefits:

  • Cost Champion: Unlike a fully-custom design, SMARC pre-integrates essential components like processor, memory, and storage, eliminating long design cycles.
  • Small Wonder: The compact form factor is ideal for sleek and portable devices, or for integrating displays into tight enclosures.
  • Power Miser: The i.MX 93 is built with a focus on efficiency, translating to extended battery life, reduced heat generation, and lower operating costs.
  • Supreme Simplicity: The i.MX 93 caters to applications with modest performance needs, eliminating the need for a more powerful (and expensive) solution.

The SOM-SMARC-MX93 offers several other benefits for display applications. First, the module offers multiple display interface options, driving one display in the LVDS (up to 1366x768p60 or 1280x800p60) or the MIPI-DSI (up to 1920x1200p60) format, enabling it to drive high-quality visuals with its 2D graphics engine. This basic graphics capability supports many industrial and small device display applications without incurring the price overhead of complex, 3D graphics engines.

The SOM-SMARC-MX93 can scale to lower-cost, display-free applications by swapping the processor for a lower-performance i.MX 91. SMARC modules with either processor are available with an industrial temperature rating, ensuring that it can be deployed even in extreme conditions.

Leveraging AI to support edge IoT

The SOM-SMARC-MX93 also has the benefit of simplified access to SECO’s Clea IoT software suite. Developed by SECO to streamline and expedite the development and implementation of edge computing applications, Clea consists of three core modules, each fulfilling a specific development need:

  • EdgeHog, an IoT device manager, enabling remote software and configuration updates and allowing containers and multi-level granularity that addresses full fleets, subsets of fleets, or single devices.
  • Astarte, a powerful data orchestration tool that also streamlines communication between IoT devices.
  • Portal, which allows you to analyze data from remote devices and provide a customized user experience through a single web portal.

The Clea architecture makes it easy to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that support improved automated data analysis and disposition that elevate operational efficiency, as well as providing new and novel business models tied to revenue streams. AI can be implemented via Astarte on edge devices, or in the cloud – depending on the level of autonomy of the edge device or the need to aggregate raw data centrally.

To simplify the development and deployment of Clea on edge devices such as those utilizing the SOM-SMARC-MX93, SECO provides EdgeHog OS, a Yocto-based Linux board support package (BSP). EdgeHog OS integrates the most relevant features of Astarte and Edgehog to implement the basic operations of an IoT edge device with Yocto, graphics libraries, and other features.

Streamlining human-machine interfaces across applications

With its consolidated hardware, design flexibility, and broad display support, the SOM-SMARC-MX93 offers IoT developers a compelling and cost-effective way to integrate display functionality into their applications. Its pre-integrated hardware, small form factor, and extensive software support streamlines every step of development and integration, whether you’re building an interface for a medical device, designing an automotive dashboard, or incorporating a touchscreen into a consumer IoT device.

Looking to incorporate human-machine interface (HMI) functionality into one of your IoT devices or curious about how AI can power up edge hardware?  Contact us today to learn how we can help.