Posts by Kenneth MacCallum

Kenneth MacCallum

4 Tips for using floating point computations in firmware

Digital Health: Floating Away Until very recently I would never have dreamed of using floating point computations in firmware. It required too heavy a penalty in code space and computation time. Suddenly the game changed considerably.  Now there are a number of relatively inexpensive microcontrollers which have single-precision floating point capabilities implemented in hardware. Here […]

Kenneth MacCallum

Toyota, SOUP, and Medical Device Development

Toyota’s recent $1.5 million jury awarded loss in an Oklahoma court illustrates it’s pretty much impossible to write software without some third party code creeping in.  IEC62304:2006 calls this “Software of Unknown Provenance” or SOUP, referring to software with unknown safety-related characteristics, or developed under an unknown methodology.  I know the situation very well.  Operating Systems, code libraries […]

Kenneth MacCallum

What’s the Point of Medical Device Proof of Concepts (POCs)?

Throughout the development of a product there are technology-related project risks that have the potential to negatively impact budget and timeline. At StarFish, our development process defines medical device proof-of-concept (POC) prototypes to mitigate these risks, either by resolving the uncertainty one way or the other, or by testing the use of a new or […]

Kenneth MacCallum

Reinventing the Wheel in Medical Device Development

Invariably when developing a medical device, there will be technologies which are required and which have already successfully been implemented by others. Maybe it’s a circuit, like a DC/DC converter or even a single-board-computer; maybe it’s a software library or a particular logic implementation. It could be the choice of an existing communication protocol versus […]

Kenneth MacCallum

Designing Firmware Logically

Bjarne and Trevor have both written some compelling perspectives on the use of microcontroller firmware, particularly about how to constrain its scope. Here’s another perspective. Recently we had a discussion about a new product we’re developing and the role of firmware in it. Trevor suggested that the entire functionality could be achieved completely in logic […]

Kenneth MacCallum

Real Engineers Don’t Simulate, or Do They?

The simulation I’m talking about is the use of computers to numerically model the behaviour of a system, particularly an electronic or electromechanical one. Typically this is done using a tool called Spice, although often MATLAB, FreeMat or even a spreadsheet can be used effectively. This method allows detailed exploration of system performance over a […]

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