basically I'd like to suggest to establish an Ethernet-based LAN inside the
IA as I think this would provide the maximum flexibility. While there might
be more integrated solutions which could take on several functions, this
would limit your possibilities should you want to upgrade a certain
subsystem - e.g. replacing the initial stereo audio I/O with a
multi-channel system, or upgrading a simple still camera to a powerful
Also, there would be more freedom concerning operating systems - e.g. your
file server could be Linux based, but you could still throw in a
Windows-based speech synthesizer subsystem should none of the Linux
variants be of your liking. Some system could be implemented without an
underlying OS at all, so you wouldn't have to worry about drivers - e.g.
the motor control for the camera positioning could be handled by a simple
microcontroller that runs bare C-code inlcuding a simple TCP/IP stack.
The penalty, as I mentioned, would be increased power requirements, but we
could implement a scheme that would allow for a graceful degradation (just
like the communication system!) by powering down less vital systems first.
This needs to be further evaluated in detail, of course...
Towards implementation I would follow more or less your
diagram with an Ethernet-equipped subsystem for each of the peripheral
building blocks, with the additional file server and core processing unit.
Here's some links for possible implementation platforms
Action Mechanism, Tel/Fax, Infrared: (link) - a compact, simple
SOC (system-on-chip) solution for these lower bandwidth devices. It could
also be used for the GPRS, although this could connected directly to the
core using a serial connection.
Video: LINKvideo board
- that's a board with five (!) video inputs. Here's one with four:
video board 2link. Or:
link. That's all PC104 (that's
basically a smaller PCI) video boards that would require an additional
PC104-CPU board to the actual video processing.
Audio: not sure yet - any CPU with on-board sound and ethernet could do
that. Actual choice depends if you want to go ahead with speech recognition
LAN: here we need a gateway/router to link our internal LAN to the outer
one. Should also manage (route) the internal traffic.
File Server: needs EIDE + CompactFlash to allow for various storage devices.
It's probably a good idea to pick not too many different vendors, otherwise
we go nuts (and broke) with all the different development systems to learn
(and buy). Maybe just the BCL thing for the simple stuff plus one PC104
company for the more demanding tasks.