Intel's Open Source Technology Center team in Finland has created a new embedded appliance that brings together several key communications technologies within a single image - an Embedded Connectivity Appliance (ECA). ECA is a proof of concept and is not intended to function as a product itself. Instead, it provides working support for many features in one collection:
- Bluetooth (via bluez 5)
- WiFi (via connman)
- basic NFC provisioning
- BT/WiFi channel bonding
- Intelligent bandwidth detection
- traffic shaping
- a basic HTTP UI
In addition to basic support, several of these features enable "tethering", where the appliance functions as a network acccess point (AP) so that clients can use it to connect to a different networks. For example, in standard WiFi tethering, an AP provides a wireless access to clients and functions as a bridge between these clients and an ethernet connection. For Bluetooth tethering, ECA creates a Personal Area Network (PAN), and Bluetooth clients can connect to it, bridging to a Internet connection. Internet access can be provided by wired ethernet, WiFi, or a cellular connection.
ECA has been tested on the Intel NUC, BeagleBoard, Raspberry Pi, Intel Atom PC, and in virtual machines using VirtualBox. Hardware support varies, of course, but issues found have usually been related to firmware. A list of supported hardware and much more information is available at http://metaeca.wordpress.com.