Qt Introduces Bare Metal Toolkit for Microcontrollers

Using a descritive language and small runtime, Qt now supports GUIs without an operating system.

James Lewis
3 months ago

Creating modern user interfaces for embedded systems just got easier. The Qt Company has announced its new toolkit: Qt for MCUs. If you have not heard of Qt before, it is probably best known as a GUI toolkit for cross-platform applications. The new Qt for MCUs lets you skip the operating system and run a graphical user interface on bare metal microcontrollers.

One exciting aspect is that Qt-based applications could now be deployed on systems running traditional operating systems as well as Arm Cortex M7-based microcontrollers. But how does Qt for MCUs achieve that? The answer is a framework called Qt Quick.

Qt Quick is a framework for developing mobile applications. At its core is QML, which is a declarative language used to describe the user interface. Looking at the syntax, it has a JSON feel to it. A low-overhead runtime makes it possible for a QML GUI to bind with backend C/C++ code, (potentially) making the GUI portable across multiple platforms.

Today, there are binary examples available for either ST’s STM32F7 Discovery kit or NXP’s I.MX RT1050-EVKB. Both evaluation kits feature a 4.3-inch touch screen and a processor with an Arm Cortex-M7 core. While the M7 is on the higher-end of the Cortex-M series, keep in mind, QT for MCUs does not rely on a traditional or real-time operating system.

Code for evaluation is not available for a few more weeks. Until then, you can find additional information, download the demo binaries, or sign up for a webinar on Qt’s site.

James Lewis
Enginerd at night. Electrical Engineer on paper. Fan of making things that blink, fly, or beep. Creator of: http://addohms.com. KN6FGY.
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