QNX is a nifty little operating system that leaves me awestruck each time I read and understand about its potential. There are multiple concurrent threads that need to be understood in totality before I introduce you to the device in question – the BlackBerry Passport.
QNX is a POSIX compliant, real time operating system which has a key differentiator from other monolithic operating systems like iOS and Android. QNX implements a self-patented technology called transparent distributed processing.
We already know that QNX is very efficient in passing the messages to and from from the kernel, making it incredibly efficient. The microkernel, dubbed Neutrino, is small enough to sit in the L1 cache of the processor, making it very fast; ideal for the mission critical systems. In effect, it means that the actual location of the hardware doesn’t matter as far as the file permissions are concerned. This exchange occurs in real time without relying on the file transfer protocols, inherently understood in the context of legacy operating systems.
This unique attribute, among others, marks QNX as one of the most powerful operating systems ever conceived; the devices, in effect, become self aware of the existence of others and the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is the next wave of technological evolution. BlackBerry announced its Project Ion, headed by Alec Saunders, back in May. The exact details are scarce in the public domain but it remains under heavy development. Why does it makes sense for BlackBerry to step into a domain that has other players throwing their resources behind it?
This is because of their robust network infrastructure, and the fact that security from the ground up is in their enterprise DNA. BlackBerry still delivers value for the network carriers because it’s so thrifty in the exchange of data. Legacy devices still remain the best bet for real time exchange of information, and BlackBerry is known for its BIS compression and encryption.
BlackBerry understands the IoT landscape from inside out. The heart of IoT is going to be QNX, with rapid exchange of huge amounts of data, that potentially defies any current definition of quantitation. I’m talking exabytes of data, if not more. However, BlackBerry, with its scalable network, data compression and QNX backend, is a truly reliable partner for IoT. This fact is only bolstered by their security heritage and cryptography patents.
It is in this context, Passport needs to be seen and understood, that this is an enterprise warrior and quiet leviathan. With a huge screen at 4.5″ and the touch enabled QWERTY keypad, BlackBerry has innovated an input experience that is truly the best blend of its virtual cousin and legacy brethren. Passport delivers a form factor never seen in the mobile space, ever.
Imagine a business scenario with multiple Passports in the same room. Through its process of auto-discovery, that is likely to be introduced when the mobile OS is more mature – (similar, yet more robust, to the the Confetti demo shown on BlackBerry PlayBook), these devices would able to connect auto-magically to each other. It may be possible to push a file across all the devices and have it displayed. This distributed architecture is likely to find favour in the boardrooms and in the consumer segment, where a connected system becomes a massive multi-player gaming warhorse! The potential is immense. It’s mind boggling and we haven’t even barely scratched the surface as of yet. We can see the glimpses in BlackBerry Blend- as the mature services iteration of this concept.
IoT comes in this context. QNX is embedded in a large number of automobiles. It runs the infotainment systems and the complex machinery reliably and securely. Imagine entering your car and your device becomes self aware of the QNX parent, connecting seemlessly. In the home segments, your device becomes the focal point of streaming media and a remote for home automation systems connected to various service points. Similarly, QNX could help to exchange the information across disparate geographies, and this concept has been implemented in the current BES architecture where the device is connected to the server without the VPN.
Passport needs to be seen in the overall perspective: the direction the company is taking for its IoT initiatives, the QNX business that is seeing a heavy development for embedded systems, and the brilliant device that lies at the heart of all this as your central hub.