Is industrial automation using Android feasible?


Do you plan on having your android as a permanent fixture driving the ‘complex industrial process’ you have in mind? In the sense that when the Android phone is there, the process runs… and when it is not, it doesn’t?

In some regards the Android phone is an embedded computer with a permanent HMI linked to it. However it was not designed to run a minimal set of operations perfectly, quickly and reliably  but instead it is built as a platform to run many and varied processes (they’re called ‘apps’).If you wanted to ‘trim’ the Android device down to metal as they say and have it function merely as an industrial embedded computer/device then yes that is possible but you would strip away the Androidness of it and be left with what it truly is, an embedded device with strong computing cajones but an ill-fitting I/O configuration.

Perhaps (and forgive me if I am over stepping here) the budding idea in your mind is using the android device as an advanced HMI or remote control for the existing layer of robust, reliable embedded industrial devices.

I say advanced because its not merely showing you things and sending things to the embedded device. It can do much much more!

Forget having API’s and sensors that connect directly to your Android! What if the sensors were their own stand alone modules and they wirelessly communicated data to your Android phone? What if you could dock your phone with these sensors and their accompanying systems to establish a deeper, fast more robust link when needed like when you need to reprogram the sensor/module? or over-ride the logic with some new logic you have on your phone. Then when you are done, just walk away.

That, in my opinion would be a better use of the android. Otherwise sure you can take it, strip it and use it as the small computer it is! You would need to extensively learn how to ‘mate’, on a hard-ware level, the android and each sensor and driver (I and O)… as well as re-examine the existing hardware composition of the Android phone you chose such that it meets the reliability requirements of industrial processes and their environments (dusty, wet, oily, hot, vibrating, high voltage etc.)

I have been doing some similar work, but using the mobile device more like a remote control for the existing industrial devices!

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