Sony takes a Flutter on embedded system interfaces

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Embedded systems developers have a very different environment to desktop and mobile for UI design and implementation, with much less standardisation and more variability in toolkit, operating system, and hardware IO specifications.

Now Hidenori Matsubayashi, a Sony engineer, has revealed that the company has settled on a combination of Google’s Flutter UI system and the Wayland display interface standard for its embedded uses, citing speed, multiplatform capabilities and beautiful aesthetics.

Matsubayash, presenting at this week’s Embedded Linux Conference Europe, said that the decision had been taken after evaluating a wide range of open source and commercial options, including GTK, Electron, Qt, Unreal Engine and Unity among others. The company had looked at dependencies, development environments, performance metrics and compatibility across web, mobile, desktop and embedded systems.

Another important capability, Matsubayash said, was that the UI framework had to integrate well with proprietary hardware and software. Flutter is open source, inherently cross-platform, and as a central part of Google’s multi-device strategy comes with a rich set of development, debugging and deployment tools. Wayland is a client-server model display interface designed for simplicity and performance with wide industry acceptance. The availability of copious support material on the Internet was especially helpful, he said.

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“We need GUI toolkits that are as lightweight as possible and independent
of hardware and architectures” said Wtsubayashi, citing the CPU and memory restrictions common in embedded systems.

He said that Sony found the combination of Flutter and Wayland to be best-practice for embedded UI development, and in the spirit of open source the company had contributed the work it had done adding support for Linux on Arm64 hosts. It intends to continue in that vein.

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