Embedded systems are integral to a myriad of products, instruments, and intelligent operations, including machine learning and AI. In today’s landscape, embedded software development systems are the core of vehicle mechanics, the functionality of domestic devices, medical equipment, interactive stations, and more. This blog delves into greater detail on embedded systems. Keep reading to learn about the significant impact of these systems on modern-day life.
What Is an Embedded Software System?
Embedded systems are designed to function with little to no human input. Their small footprint, streamlined design, and affordability make them indispensable in sectors like aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and the development of intelligent cities. They are pivotal in shaping our modern, digital, interconnected, and automated world.
What Are the Various Embedded Devices?
These systems operate autonomously without needing a central system such as a processor or computer to execute functions. Examples include:
- Microwave ovens,
- Game consoles,
- Washing machines.
Real-time embedded systems are engineered to perform particular tasks within a set time frame.
- Soft real-time embedded systems: The emphasis for these systems is on task completion, with deadlines being secondary. An example is a computer sound system.
- Hard real-time embedded systems: For these systems, meeting the deadline is critical and non-negotiable. An example is an aircraft control system.
These devices are compact and user-friendly. Despite their limited memory capacity, their portability and convenience make them popular choices. Some examples are:
- Digital cameras
- Activity monitors
- Smart watches
These systems are linked to a network, whether wired or wireless, to execute specific functions and deliver results to the connected devices. They include elements such as controllers and sensors. A few examples include:
- Automated teller machines (ATMs)
- Card payment terminals
- Residential security setups
Features of Embedded Systems
These systems are crafted to execute a particular function throughout their existence.
Embedded systems typically cost less than comprehensive computers because they lack expansion slots for additional devices and have simpler component structures.
Small Form Factor
These are PCB layouts that offer strong processing capabilities within tiny, sturdy casings, optimizing space utilization.
These processors have a reduced thermal design, which cuts down on cooling requirements and eliminates the necessity for fans and other moving parts.
Examples of Embedded Software Systems
The GPS is a navigational tool utilizing satellites and receivers to share details on location, time, and speed. The receiving device incorporates an embedded system to enable the functioning of the global positioning system.
Embedded GPS tools help users pinpoint their present location and desired destinations. As a result, their popularity is surging, making them a predominant navigational instrument for vehicles. GPS systems can commonly be found in:
- Smart devices
Medical equipment in healthcare settings has long integrated embedded systems. A novel category of medical tools utilizes embedded systems to assist patients requiring consistent home monitoring and care. These systems are equipped with sensors that collect vital health metrics such as heart and pulse rates, or information from implants.
This data is then transmitted to a cloud where physicians can access and analyze it wirelessly. Medical devices play a pivotal role in efficient diagnosis and treatment. Some common examples include
- Ultrasound devices.
Central heating mechanisms transform chemical energy into heat in a furnace chamber. This warmth is distributed across different sections of a structure. It is crucial for these systems to be equipped with embedded systems for temperature modulation.
Without proper temperature controls, such systems could cause one room to become excessively hot while another remains cold. Proper thermostat adjustments not only ensure comfort but also promote significant energy conservation. Common facilities where these systems are installed include:
- Commercial offices,
- Educational institutions,
- Manufacturing units,
- Medical facilities,
Fitness trackers are wearable gadgets designed to oversee health and record activities such as sleep, jogging, and walking. They employ embedded systems to collect information on metrics like heart rate, body heat, and steps taken. This data is transmitted to servers using wide-area networks like LTE or GPRS. Fitness trackers are used to:
- Track movement,
- Survey health,
- Act as an athletic coach.
An Automated Teller Machine or ATM is a digital device employed in the banking sector. It interacts with the central bank system through a network. The main bank system authenticates user input and logs all operations. In contrast, the ATM’s embedded system showcases the transaction details and handles inputs from the machine’s keypad. ATMs are used to:
- Dispense money
- Review account balance/transaction history
- Transfer funds
Automotive embedded systems are developed and integrated to ensure vehicle safety. Due to these safety mechanisms in cars, there has been a notable decline in traffic-related deaths in recent times. The automobile industry is continually striving to fortify vehicles with cutting-edge tech and sensors, all of which hinge on embedded systems. Active safety measures include:
- Adaptive cruise control,
- Vehicle malfunction alerts,
- Pedestrian detection,
- Lane merging assistance,
- In-car GPS systems,
- Anti-lock brake systems,
All these features aim to reduce accident risks, amplifying the global demand for embedded systems.
Automated fare collection (AFC) represents a ticketing solution enabling travelers to pay fares via ticket dispensers or online platforms. Initially rooted in coins and tokens, these have now evolved to incorporate magnetic cards or smart cards. An AFC typically consists of ticket vending machines, automated gates, and ticket verification devices. These components, powered by embedded systems, facilitate quicker transactions, smooth operations, and enhanced revenue collection.
Though many city buses and commuter trains still rely on traditional paper tickets and passes, metropolitan transit networks have transitioned to AFCs using smart cards. These cards are cost-effective, provide heightened security, and allow for data gathering. You can typically find automated fare collection systems at:
- Subway stations
- Bus terminals
- Train stations
Factory robots are engineered to handle intricate tasks, especially in hazardous environments. They are equipped with embedded systems that interconnect various subsystems. In standard operations, these robots use actuators, sensors, and software to understand their surroundings and produce the desired outcome securely .
Without these embedded systems, robots would depend on external control or computation mechanisms, potentially increasing safety threats. Factory robots are utilized in various sectors like
- Production assembly,
- Quality assurance,
- Welding operations,
- Surface painting,
- Product stacking.
Embedded systems are pivotal to our modern world, and with ongoing technological advancements, their importance will only grow. Familiarity with their use and applications enhances our understanding of the tech landscape and allows us to harness their potential.