Why use Flutter for Embedded systems?Vikash Soni
The rapid advancements in technologies have paved the way for an exciting future, with countless innovations and trends continuously emerging. One of the most significant and promising trends that have evolved in recent years is the proliferation of embedded devices.
These devices are becoming increasingly ubiquitous because they can be integrated into a wide range of applications and industries. From smart home devices to industrial machinery, embedded systems empower basic tools and technologies in new and innovative ways.
Now, Flutter, which is a popular mobile app development framework has recently expanded its capabilities to support embedded systems development. Flutter for Embedded Systems brings with it a host of new features that make it an ideal choice for developers in this space.
So, if you want to use Flutter for embedded system development then this blog is for you.
Here we will explore the benefits of using Flutter for embedded systems development and discuss how it can simplify the development process for embedded systems developers. We will also look at some real-world use cases where Flutter has been used to build embedded systems applications.
What Are Embedded Systems?
Embedded Systems are a combination of software and hardware that are designed to perform specific tasks. They are typically integrated into larger systems and may include a microprocessor or a microcontroller-based system, as well as an integrated circuit designed for real-time operations.
Embedded systems can vary in complexity, from simple systems consisting of a single microcontroller to more complex systems incorporating multiple processors, connected peripherals, and networks. Furthermore, these can be used in a wide range of applications, including smart home devices, wearables, industrial machinery, and transportation systems.
Components of an Embedded System
- Hardware: The hardware component of an embedded system includes the physical components of the system, such as microcontrollers, sensors, actuators, memory, and power supply. The hardware is designed to perform specific functions and interact with the environment in which the system operates.
- Software: This component includes all the programs and algorithms that control the hardware. This includes firmware, drivers, operating systems, and application software. Also, the software can be used to manage the resources of the system, execute specific tasks, and communicate with external devices.
- User interface: This user interface component provides a means for users to interact with the system. This can include displays, touchscreens, buttons, and other input/output devices. The user interface is designed to provide a seamless and intuitive way for users to access and control the functionality of the system.
In addition to these three components, embedded systems may also include communication protocols, networking capabilities, and security features to ensure that the system operates safely and reliably in a variety of environments.
Features of Embedded Systems
- Real-time operation: Embedded systems are designed to perform tasks in real time, meaning they can respond to input and process data quickly and accurately. This makes them well-suited for applications where timing is critical, such as industrial control systems or automotive applications.
- Integration with hardware: These are closely integrated with hardware components, such as sensors, actuators, and communication interfaces.
- High reliability: Embedded systems are often used in critical applications where reliability is essential, such as in medical devices, industrial control systems, and transportation systems.
Languages Used For Embedded App Development
Let’s have a look at some of the programming languages which can be used to develop embedded systems.
Assembly language is a low-level programming language that is closely related to machine language. It is a human-readable representation of machine language, which is composed of binary code that is executed directly by a computer’s central processing unit (CPU).
QML, or Qt Meta-Object Language, is a declarative programming language used for designing and developing user interfaces (UIs) for software applications. It is a part of the Qt framework, a cross-platform application development toolkit. This kit provides libraries, tools, and APIs for building desktop, mobile, and embedded applications.
Python is a high-level programming language that is known for its simplicity, readability, and ease of use. While it may not be as powerful as low-level programming languages like assembly language or C++.
Why Use Flutter Embedded Systems?
Flutter app development services is a powerful framework that is gaining a lot of popularity in the development of embedded systems. Let’s have a look at key characteristics which justify this statement to a great extent.
Features of Flutter For Embedded Systems
- Layered architecture: One of the unique features of Flutter is its ability to provide a clean and customizable interface for custom embedders. This means that developers can use Flutter to power their apps on new hardware and operating systems that were previously unsupported, by creating their own custom embedders.
- Small Footprint: Flutter for Embedded Systems is designed to have a small footprint, which makes it ideal for devices with limited resources.
- Portable code: Flutter has the ability to maximize code reuse across different platforms and devices. Because Dart is highly portable, Flutter can use the same rendering stack no matter which embedder spins it up.
- Work with native code: Flutter’s platform channels provide a powerful and flexible way to integrate native code with the Flutter app, regardless of the platform or device. Now a single Dart interface can be used to access native code on mobile, web, desktop, or embedded platforms.
- Support for Touch and Voice: It includes support for both touch and voice-based user interfaces, which makes it ideal for building smart home devices and other IoT devices.
- Seamless Integration: Flutter for Embedded Systems integrates seamlessly with other programming languages and APIs.
These above points are not just enough to define the features of Flutter for embedded systems. This is because Flutter’s capabilities have not gone unnoticed by some of the biggest names in the automotive industry, including Toyota and BMW. Both companies have partnered with Flutter for their embedded systems development. Also, we have explained in detail about their partnership.
Why Did Toyota Choose Flutter Embedded System?
Toyota is a well-known company where the driving experience is a top priority and every aspect of it is carefully considered and perfected. While Toyota had always developed its in-vehicle technology itself, they were open to exploring new possibilities that could enhance the user experience for its drivers.
Toyota was intrigued by the potential of Flutter’s embedded system and wondered how it could help them create even better in-vehicle technology for their customers. By leveraging Flutter’s powerful tools and features, they were able to create a new generation of in-vehicle infotainment systems that provided an intuitive and engaging user experience. This not only improved the driving experience for Toyota’s customers but also strengthened its position as a leader in the automotive industry.
Why BMW Also Chose Flutter?
BMW has leveraged the power of Flutter to develop a key interface between their vehicles and smartphones, resulting in a highly intuitive and user-friendly app called My BMW. This app has been successfully launched in many countries and is expected to be introduced in many more in the near future.
One of the key factors behind the rapid expansion of the My BMW app’s content is its scalable and universal software architecture, which enables the app to be easily customized and adapted to meet the needs of different markets and regions.
The entire custom app development process was carried out in-house by BMW using Flutter. This enabled them to achieve a high level of control and customization over the app’s design and functionality. As a result, this approach resulted in a highly polished and seamless user experience that is consistent across different platforms and devices.
In addition to providing a streamlined interface for controlling various aspects of the vehicle, the My BMW app also includes integration with Amazon Alexa, allowing users to control certain functions of their car using voice commands. This integration is available on BMWs with 7.0 operating systems and with voice service for BMWs with 5.0 or 6.0 operating systems.
Also Read: Why BMW and Toyota prefer Flutter for building automotive connecting applications.
How To Run a Flutter App On Different Devices?
There are many different ways you can use to run your Flutter application on different devices. Among them, the most common way is to use the flutter_runner tool, which is included in the Flutter SDK (Software Development Kit). This tool automatically detects the connected devices and launches the application on them.
In case you want to manually select the device, then the device flag with flutter_runner can be used. For instance-
- To launch on a specific iOS device
- To launch on a specific Android device
How Does The Flutter Application Communicate With The UI In an Embedded System?
In an embedded system, the Flutter application communicates with the user interface (UI) through platform channels. These are a way for the Flutter application to communicate with native code that is specific to the hardware platform being used.
When the Flutter application is launched, it establishes a platform channel that allows it to send and receive messages to and from the native code. These messages can include information about user input, screen updates, and other events that need to be handled by the native code.
The native code, in turn, can use the platform channel to communicate with the hardware platform and perform tasks such as reading sensor data, controlling motors or actuators, and other low-level operations.
To ensure that the Flutter application and the native code are communicating effectively, developers must create a custom platform channel that defines the methods and data types that will be used for communication. This requires defining a set of platform-specific APIs that will be used by the Flutter application to interact with the native code.
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Alternatives To Flutter For Embedded System Development
Qt is a cross-platform development framework that is widely used for embedded system development. It comes with a rich set of libraries and tools for building graphical user interfaces (GUIs). And also offers a wide range of features, including support for multiple operating systems, networking, and multimedia.
Furthermore, it is more mature and stable, with a larger user community and a proven track record of success in the industry. Moreover, C++ is a faster language than Dart and other languages, giving Qt an edge in terms of performance and speed.
MicroPython is a version of the Python programming language that has been optimized for microcontrollers and embedded systems. It provides a compact and efficient implementation of the Python language, making it an ideal choice for developers who want to build complex embedded systems applications using a familiar programming language.
It also offers a range of built-in modules and libraries that can be used to interface with various hardware components, such as sensors, actuators, and displays.
When it comes to developing web applications for embedded platforms, two popular options are Chromium Kiosk mode and the Electron app. Both systems allow developers to use familiar web technologies such as HTML, JS, and CSS to build their applications, despite differences in setup.
However, one major drawback of these systems is the significant overhead involved in their operation, which can negatively impact performance. For instance, in order to use the Chromium browser in kiosk mode, the entire desktop Linux operating system must be run, which can be a resource-intensive process.
Apache Mynewt is an open-source real-time operating system (RTOS) designed specifically for small, low-power embedded systems. It provides a lightweight and efficient platform for developing and deploying embedded applications that require real-time responsiveness and reliability.
It has a modular architecture, which allows developers to customize and configure the operating system to meet the specific requirements of their application. The system is also designed to be highly portable, making it easy to run on a wide range of hardware platforms.
Zephyr is also an open-source real-time operating system (RTOS) designed for use in resource-constrained and connected devices. It offers a scalable and customizable platform for developing embedded applications that require real-time performance, security, and connectivity.
The system is designed to be highly configurable, allowing developers to choose the components they need and customize the system to meet their specific requirements. This modular approach also makes it easy to integrate with other software components and hardware platforms.
Choosing Flutter for your Embedded Systems development can be a smart move, due to its flexibility, performance, and ease of use. With the support of the Flutter team and a growing community of developers, the platform continues to evolve and expand its capabilities.
If you’re considering using Flutter, then as a leading mobile app development company, we can help you create a high-quality, reliable, and user-friendly system.
You can hire flutter app developers with us that will work with you to understand your requirements and deliver a top-notch solution that exceeds your expectations.