Africa has many problems, and it is said that problems present the biggest opportunities when looking to create new products and services that add value, create more time, increase efficiency, extend transparency, save money and a host of other benefits that would translate to revenue and a sustainable business for any discerning entrepreneur.
We must appreciate the progress we have made over the years in our solution development process. In the past we often approached issues from the platform side and tried to cram in as much of the problem as we could with vestiges left to be dealt with another day, leaving in its wake compromised and half baked solutions. This could have been attributed to siloed knowledge centers and limited human resource competency.
Today, with a growing talent pool and easy access to information, we are now starting with the problem definition and working towards the most optimal solution to address the problem in its entirety based on available resources.
In hardware development the architecture is at the core, with four elements that the process prescribes. These is the application layer, operating system layer, hardware abstraction layer and the hardware layer. I will attempt to digest these elements and make the importance of all of them palatable.
The application layer is really the engine of where your problem statement gets addressed and at this point you can simulate all manner of scenarios using specially built tools. The value of this is that it allows you to refine what is you are looking for and determine component requirements.
You are probably familiar with Windows and Linux for the desktop and Android for mobile which are common operating systems. When designing hardware, you need a system to mediate and manage resources and common services. In highly specialized systems the OS layer can be done away with to improve resource usage and throughput.
The hardware abstraction layer allows the operating system that has been built from scratch or modified from a preexisting bases to talk to the hardware layer; which is what we interact with physically. Based on the simulation results as done at the application layer, this is where trade off in components will happen, if you have constrains such as capital or form factor. The final cost of producing your prototype is realized here.
You will then probably ship your design together with the bill of materials to a manufacturer in China and soon thereafter have your hardware consignment arriving, ready for market distribution.
A different animal altogether from a pure software play, but one that hold tremendous potential for scratching Africa’s itch.