How Embedded Systems Impact Everyday Life

How Embedded Systems Impact Everyday Life

Embedded systems are at the core of various products, machinery, and intelligent operations like machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Since embedded devices are used in almost every industry today, embedded systems play a crucial role in the functioning of devices and machines we use daily, from vehicles to home appliances and medical devices. To further understand this, here's how embedded systems impact everyday life.

What is an Embedded System?

An Embedded system is a combination of computer software and hardware designed to perform specific functionalities. In some cases, embedded systems can be programmed, although they may also have a fixed functionality. Some possible uses of embedded systems include consumer electronics, industrial machines, automobiles, cameras, medical equipment, household appliances, mobile devices, and many others.

While embedded systems are considered computing systems, some have no User Interface (UI), such as those designed to perform only a single task. Others have more complex graphical user interfaces (GUI), such as those used for mobile devices. User interfaces can include LEDs, buttons, and touchscreen sensing. Microcontrollers or digital signal processors are responsible for managing embedded systems. They are integrated into components dedicated to handling electric or mechanical interfacing.

The embedded systems programming instructions, also called the firmware, are kept in read-only memory or flash memory chips and operate with limited computer hardware resources. Embedded systems connect to the outside world through peripherals, which link output and input devices. The embedded systems industry will continue to grow significantly in the coming years. Such growth is mainly due to the continued investment in Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Communication Embedded Systems

Embedded systems use communication ports to transmit data between peripheral devices and processors through a communication protocol. The processor will interpret the data with the help of minimal software stored in the embedded system's memory. Engineers working with embedded software systems have to choose a communication protocol for facilitating this exchange of data and ensuring that devices in the system are using the same language to communicate.

Communication protocols refer to rules that allow communication systems to communicate data through a physical medium. The regulations and synchronization amongst embedded systems must adhere to these communication protocols. The software and hardware or a combination of the two, implement these protocols. Digital and analogue communication systems rely on various communication protocols. Moreover, each protocol comes with its own area of application.

When embedded systems communicate, a processor or controller will gather input from physical world peripherals, such as actuators, sensors, etc., and processes the same using appropriate software to produce the desired output. In this case, the components must communicate with one another to produce the desired result.

Embedded Automotive Systems

The purpose of embedded automotive systems is to enhance the safety of vehicles. These technologies have helped to lower traffic fatality rates over recent years. Automotive industries are taking the extra mile to integrate advanced technologies and sensors into automobiles, made possible with the help of embedded systems.

Some examples of vehicle safety systems are adaptive speed control, pedestrian recognition, car breakdown warning, airbags, merging assistance, etc. These features have helped mitigate the risk of road accidents and also led to an increase in demand for embedded systems worldwide. Other examples of embedded automotive systems include car navigation systems, vehicle entertainment, and anti-lock braking system.

Car manufacturers are integrating embedded systems into vehicles for various functionalities, such as ignition, audio systems, and security. The embedded system's technological innovations have made these cars more energy-efficient and safer. Volkswagen was the first company to utilise embedded systems in the automobile industry.

Automobile manufacturers should consider hiring embedded software specialists to ensure that these embedded automotive systems are maintained to the highest standard. These specialists are generally responsible for developing and integrating software into embedded devices and systems. In addition, they also analyse and monitor the efficiency, stability, and safety of embedded automotive systems.

Embedded Systems in Healthcare

Healthcare is another industry where embedded systems are common. In most cases, embedded systems in healthcare work by monitoring vital signs, and amplifying sounds in electronic stethoscopes and almost every type of imaging system, including CT scans, PET scans, MRIs, etc.

Embedded systems make monitoring and managing patients' health convenient and easy. They can be customised according to specific medical functions. For instance, sensors are used to extract data on some aspects of a patient's health, such as blood pressure and heart rate, and then send the data to physicians for analysis. Embedded systems incorporate a processor and an operating system, allowing them to react in real time despite limited resources, especially during highly critical situations. These systems include digital signal processors, microprocessors, and converter microcontrollers. These medical-grade embedded technologies are updated regularly to minimise their size, improve their processing power and incorporate programmed automatic technologies to offer better medications and treatment.

Embedded systems in healthcare have empowered doctors and patients. Thanks to embedded systems, doctors can rely on imaging tools to diagnose health problems without carrying out surgery. They can also rely on these tools to track the patient's progress after undergoing treatment.

Embedded Systems at Point of Sale

There are various options for business owners who plan to integrate embedded systems for point-of-sale purchases. With the embedded model of point-of-sale system, the software is developed for the hardware it will run and usually comes pre-installed once the hardware is purchased.

The embedded point-of-sale systems perform the tasks of running a point-of-sale in industries like retail and restaurants. Instead of buying separate software and hardware packages and transacting with multiple vendors, the embedded point-of-sale systems come in a single package, which is convenient.

Since the software of the embedded point-of-sale system is tailored to the hardware, most companies find that the embedded point-of-sale systems are more intuitive and easier to learn for employees. Some of these systems offer the "plug and play" model and will not require any software to install or download, which saves plenty of time.