An embedded system is a computer system in a larger electronic or mechanical system with a dedicated function. Today, embedded systems are ubiquitous; by 2009, they accounted for approximately 98% of all manufactured microprocessors.
With the growing number of companies using IT outsourcing services to incorporate powerful computers onto PCBs (printed circuit boards) and smaller chassis, embedded systems are here to stay.
Examples of Embedded Systems
Embedded systems are used in a wide variety of industries in several technologies. Some of these include:
Automotive embedded systems help perform several tasks in a car. Some systems perform basic software services, while others are used for user-facing functions. These systems also play a significant role in enhancing safety in automobiles. One example is vehicles' active safety features, including car breakdown warnings, merging assistance, and speed control.
Automotive embedded systems include the car's entertainment, navigation, anti-lock braking, backup sensors, and suspension control.
Medical devices have had embedded systems for quite some time now, and new devices rely even more on this technology. Medical equipment that benefits from these systems contains sensors that gather data on the patient's pulse and heart rate and even feedback from implants. This data is forwarded to a cloud where a doctor can access and review them.
Medical devices widely used with embedded systems include defibrillators, pacemakers, and ultrasound scanners.
A common use of embedded systems in the agricultural sector is greenhouse automation. A climate control computer is linked with sensors that monitor and control the levels of shading, carbon dioxide, pH, electrical conductivity, and external weather conditions.
The data gathered helps save labor and costs and more accurately control specific aspects of the growing environment to boost crop productivity. The use of this software in agriculture also includes setting up a feed and irrigation schedule.
4. Industrial Machines
Factory robots are one of the industrial machines' best examples of embedded systems. Without these systems, these robots would rely on computing systems or external controls, which come with safety risks due to failures and delays. Factory robots usually have sensors and actuators that help them assess the environment and safely deliver the desired output.
With the 4th industrial revolution, Machine Learning and IoT are being incorporated into the industry to make machines safer, faster, more accurate, and more effective.
5. Home Automation
Embedded systems also play a large role in home automation controllers. These systems allow for remote monitoring and control when connected to the Internet of Things (IoT).
You can integrate these systems into the home in several areas, including:
- HVAC control: Smart air conditioning, vents, and thermostats;
- Security: Smoke detectors, access controls, and security cameras;
- Smart appliances: Washing machines, vacuum cleaners, water heaters, ovens, refrigerators.
Types of Embedded Systems
Embedded systems can generally be broken down into four categories based on their functionality and performance, as discussed below.
These systems provide output within a specified timeframe. They are often used in mission-critical sectors like aerospace controls, autonomous vehicle controls, and defense.
These systems are self-sufficient and do not rely on a host system. Output is produced independently. These systems include calculators, digital watches and cameras, and some appliances such as refrigerators.
These systems are usually connected to a wireless or wired network to give the intended output. Some networked embedded systems include ATMs and point-of-sale systems.
This specifically refers to small portable devices such as cell phones. An interesting overlap between mobile embedded devices and standalone devices is that all mobile embedded devices are standalone embedded devices, but not the other way around.
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