EU backs 'invisible computing' research

Industry-led $3.24 billion initiative aims to boost investment in embedded systems.

The European Union wants member states to back an industry-led $3.24 billion research program for embedded computer systems that control household appliances, consumer gadgets and cars.

Embedded systems, which are hidden from the user and cannot usually be manipulated or reprogrammed, are found in virtually all electronic equipment used today, from wireless telephones and DVD players to cars and airplanes.

The Advanced Research & Technology for Embedded Intelligence and Systems (Artemis) program consists of 20 tech and automotive companies--including Daimler-Chrysler, Nokia and STMicroelectronics--that claim increased investment in embedded systems is vital to Europe's industrial competitiveness.

A fifth of the value of each car produced in the EU is due to embedded electronics, a value that is expected to rise to about 40 percent by 2015, creating 600,000 new jobs in the EU automotive sector alone, according to Artemis.

Viviane Reding, European commissioner for Information Society and Media, said Monday in a statement that Artemis is the best way for European companies to take advantage of economies of scale and meet ever-increasing research and development costs.

"Artemis shows us an excellent way forward to face the research challenges in embedded computing systems over the next 10 years," Reding said. "It should be open to all players, and it is crucial that it accelerates the pace of innovation."

Professor Yrjo Neuvo, Artemis chairman and senior technology advisor at Nokia, said being able to develop increasingly complex software and networking is of "paramount importance" to Nokia and the whole mobile sector.

"The tools and design methods to be jointly developed as part of Artemis will enable us to increase the functionality of mobile devices to meet future customer needs without sacrificing usability or operating times," Neuvo said in a statement.

Artemis has set a target of raising a combined public-private research investment of $3.24 billion (2.7 billion euros) between now and 2010 with funding from industry, the EU and member states.

Andy McCue of Silicon.com reported from London.

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