RT-RK is an R&D company and national research institute that delivers development services and own products in the arena of real time embedded systems, with strong focus on consumer electronics and automotive. Headquartered in Novi Sad, with offices in Belgrade (Serbia), Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Osijek (Croatia) with over 600 engineers, RT-RK is one of the biggest development houses in the Southeast Europe.
The company’s business is structured in two big categories: professional services (outsourcing, near shore development centers), and own products. RT-RK delivers professional services in the field of computer engineering, focusing on: embedded software, TV software, DSP software, Industrial and Automotive software, FPGA, product design, and small scale production. The company offers three lines of products:
- Automated solutions for testing of complex consumer electronic devices such as Integrated Digital TVs (iDTV) and Set-Top boxes (STB), known as BBT (Black Box Testing).
- Interactive system for wireless control of lighting ambience OBLO includes retrofit intelligent switches, dimmers and outlets for power consumption monitoring.
- The latest products introduced on the STB market, powered by iWedia software.
RT-RK Headquarter in Novi Sad
RT-RK in the University Campus
RT-RK Belgrade office
A computer engineering journey
In 1991, a small group of professors working at the University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Technical Sciences, Chair for Computer Engineering, launched first projects in the area of telephony and digital signaling protocols. Their interest for business has further evolved to automation processes in Serbian oil and gas industry, in projects for gas pipeline management. Recognizing the benefits of the University environment, they have established a company named FTN-IRAM-RT. Excellent technical expertise and backlog on previous engagements of FTN-IRAM-RT attracted Micronas, German semiconductor company, to create a joint venture, a company named MicronasNIT within the same environment and with the same management. MicronasNIT entered the era of expansion in DSP, FPGA and Digital TV technology. In 2005, Serbian Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SIEPA) awarded MicronasNIT as the best exporter of the year in SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) category. Endeavor to grow, experience and knowledge in new technologies and customer service, and world-wide market access as a positive influence of Micronas, emerged a need for a new business model to render the services. The new circumstances gave rise to foundation of a new company, RT-RK. From 2005 to 2009 RT-RK was delivering development services to different non-consumer customers such as — Tegic, Nuance, Magic4, Openwave (mobile phone industry); lighting for Philips and cooperation with ALTRAN in embedded system design. In April 2009, RT-RK acquired MicronasNIT, bringing the two teams under one umbrella, thus becoming the largest SEE company for embedded system design.
In the following years the company has gotten engaged on Android for TV mission and become worldwide recognized as an Android competence center. Recognizing the company’s experience and potential for strategic partnership, Zoran Corporation singled out RT-RK for porting Android on their System on Chip (SoC), joining forces in development of multimedia applications and services for connected TV.
The company has created near shore development centers (NSDC) for different companies: Cirrus Logic for DSP applications, tools, and industrial applications; VESTEL dedicated team for TV and STB software development and testing tools development; MARVELL focused on Android and GoogleTV application and customer support; SMARDTV dedicated team for CAM and STB software development; and the newest member of the NSDC family TTTech team for automotive software development.
In parallel with development of the near shore development centers, the company has executed numerous fixed term projects, such as:
- Hardware and software development for General Satellite, Russia
- Development of smart electrical dimmer for TLD, IR sensor control based, for PHILIPS, The Netherlands
- Compiler and IDE for Cirrus Logic (USA) digital signal processors with fix-point arithmetic, non-linear memory (Harvard architecture) generating high-efficiency and condensed code
Important part of RT-RK business is handling Intellectual Property. A dedicated RT-RK team works on protection of own product and technologies (RT-RK has more than 40 patent applications) and at the same time offers professional IP services.
Ministry of Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia accredited RT-RK Computer Based Systems LLC as a National Research and Development Institute. In their explanation, Advisory Committee stated that the scientific programs of RT-RK contribute to development of new products and devices, introduce new and improve existing technological processes, systems and services, and perform transfer of knowledge and technology. The company has adequate deployment of competent scientific researchers, programs for young developers, and adequate facilities, equipment, and other resources for the implementation of programs of general interest.
Android for TV as a vision of the new class CE device
One of the major missions in the upcoming years is strengthening and profiling of the engineering team knowledge in Android OS with a focus on TV & STB applications. The company management has a vision that modern consumer devices should become programmable e.g. end user should be able to install variety of applications, and move from a predefined set of functions to a living room hub for: gaming, VOD and OTT services, e-health, smart-home server and lots of new undiscovered applications.
On this technology trip, the first obstacle was unavailability of the Android on TV & STB SoCs. At that time (2009) MIPS based SoCs were dominating consumer market, and logical consequence was to start porting of the Android from ARM to MIPS architecture. RT-RK was the first company to announce successful porting of the big-endian version of the Android™ operating system for the MIPS® architecture facilitating SoC manufacturers with the power of Android, targeting market of Digital TVs (DTV), Set-Top boxes (STB) and a range of applications in the digital home. Cooperation with MIPS (Imagination) continues in the upcoming years on further customization and optimization of core libraries of the Android on the MIPS platform.
In parallel with the work on the Android, RT-RK has recognized importance of two upcoming standards for connected devices: Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), and Hybrid broadcast broadband TV (HbbTV). The first solutions were presented in 2010 including first deployment in CE devices.
The next challenge in preparing of the Android for TV was integration of DVB middleware and exposing the control functions to JAVA applicative level. The main goal was to replace Dialer as a default Android launcher application with a TV Application, and to make the control of TV functionalities attainable for 3rd party JAVA applications. RT-RK has created Android4TV API and presented it to the industry and science. The concept has been awarded by IEEE Merit Award for an outstanding work.
An important milestone on the Android for TV journey was joining forces with SmarDTV, member of Kudelski group, that has a portfolio of market proven DVB middleware, equipped with CI+ and MHEG5 engines. A new company has been created, named iWedia, and headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. All the IPs have been transferred to the new entity while the engineering team continues preparing of an Android turnkey solution (software and hardware) for an Android based hybrid STB, with natively integrated DVB fully equipped with HbbTV, MHEG, CI+, DLNA, and PVR;
The company’s expertise has been recognized by the industry leaders including Google itself and iWedia has become the first European Google TV (GTV) certified system integrator, hereby adopting the Android4TV concept for exposition of the DVB service in GTV for the European market.
Moving on with the development, the first deployment has started in 2012, making one of the first Android deployments of pay TV based on the Android for TV concept itself.