Introducing embedded system devices into our lives has forever changed how we live and interact with technology. From the earliest days of computers and handheld devices, embedded systems have revolutionized computing. Embedded systems are found in almost every device, from a simple remote control to a sophisticated medical device. Embedded systems have enabled us to do more with less and have made our lives easier and more efficient. From automobiles to smartphones, embedded systems have enabled us to live in a brighter, more connected world. This article will examine how embedded systems have changed our lives forever.
Types of Embedded Devices
There are four types of Embedded devices:
Real-time embedded systems
Real-time embedded systems are becoming increasingly important in modern society as more and more devices are becoming connected and automated. As such, many industries are investing heavily in developing these systems to take advantage of their many benefits.
The design of Real-time embedded systems is to operate deterministically. Meaning that they can predict the response time of any given operation. This allows them to guarantee a certain level of performance and reliability while still being able to react quickly to changes in the environment. There designed to be fault-tolerant, meaning that they can handle unexpected events or errors without causing disruption.
These types of systems deliver outcomes or results without delay as real-time embedded systems are frequently utilized in mission-critical industries like the military and aerospace, which require crucial data.
Real-time embedded systems include the following examples:
- Aeronautical controls
- Computers in land vehicles and aircraft that analyze and relay data from sensors
- Rules for a missile defense system
- Rules for autonomous and partially autonomous vehicles
Real-time embedded systems are further separated into soft real-time embedded systems and complex real-time embedded systems to consider the significance of output production speed.
A Stand Alone Embedded System is an embedded system that is not connected to a central computer system or a network. It is an independent system that can operate autonomously and perform a dedicated task without external input or intervention. Stand Alone Embedded Systems are used in various applications such as automotive systems, medical devices, consumer electronics, industrial control systems, and military systems.
Stand Alone Embedded Systems are designed to be self-contained, as they do not require an external computer to operate. The system consists of a processor, memory, and I/O devices such as sensors and actuators. The purpose of the processor is to control the system and perform the desired task. The memory stores the software and the data. The purpose of the I/O devices is to obtain input from the environment and to produce output.
Wired or wireless networks, as well as connection with web servers, are used by networked embedded devices to provide output.
Examples of network-embedded systems are:
- Security systems for the home and workplace
- Point-of-sale (POS) and automated teller machine (ATM) systems
- Security systems for homes and businesses are made up of a network of sensors, cameras, alarms, and other embedded devices that collect data on the inside and exterior of a facility and utilize it to warn users of odd, possibly harmful disruptions nearby.
A mobile embedded device is a computer device that is typically found on mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and other portable computing devices. Its functionality would otherwise be unavailable if the device were simply a stand-alone unit. For example, a mobile-embedded device may provide a camera, audio playback, GPS, or Wi-Fi capabilities. Mobile embedded devices are becoming increasingly popular as technology advances and allow for more complex features to add to a device. Mobile embedded devices are also becoming more critical for businesses, as they allow them to collect and use data without needing a bulky laptop or desktop computer.
Real-life examples of Embedded Systems
Let’s discuss some day-to-day things which don’t work without the embedded system.
The ever 1st embedded system we used is the alarm clock. Yes, you might not give it much thought, but an alarm clock has a CPU that enables it to keep track of the time, keep track of the alarm schedule, and, of course, trigger the alarm.
These days there are several alarm clocks which can do much more than just setting the alarm. Many have humidity sensors, and room thermometers integrated into them. Some frequently have a radio as well.
Central Heating System
In a furnace room, central heating systems transform chemical energy into thermal energy, transport that energy into heat, and then distribute that heat to various places within a structure. These systems must have thermostat controls to change the temperature, which an embedded system makes possible.
Without temperature controls, a central heating system may cause one area to get overheated while leaving another one freezing. Proper thermostat controls allow you to set the temperature comfortably while saving significant energy.
Although most of us now use our phones as calculators, there are still numerous situations where a separate calculator is required. For example, mathematicians, cashiers, accountants, and students still use calculators regularly.
Since executing mathematical operations is a calculator’s primary purpose, any software running on one will have a CPU that can handle complicated computations.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a navigation system that synchronizes data about position, time, and velocity using satellites and receivers. An embedded system in the receiver or equipment that receives the data makes it easier to use a global positioning system. People may readily locate their present places and destinations thanks to the incorporated GPS gadgets. As a result, they are quickly gaining ground and taking over as the most used navigational aid for cars.
Today, GPS systems are often found in:
- Mobile devices
The automated teller machine, or ATM, consists of multiple smaller units. The card reader, display, keypad input, and back-end that links to a secure bank network are all components.
An operating system must run on the primary processor for ATMs to manage their numerous functionalities. It’s also possible that the system uses many processors to function.
ATMs are another example of an embedded system that has to adhere to specifications for different security capabilities, such as supporting cryptographic methods and having anti-theft features.
Wearable fitness trackers can measure your health and monitor activities like sleeping, jogging, and walking. In addition, these gadgets collect information about your heart rate, body temperature, and several steps using embedded systems. All this information is transmitted to servers using WAN technologies like LTE or GPRS.
Typically, the reasons for using fitness trackers are:
- Observing one’s health behavior
- Medical surveillance
- Sports instruction
Smart Home Devices
Many of us own these gadgets, including Google Home and Amazon Alexa. These fall under embedded IoT (Internet of Things) devices since their operation depend on a live internet connection.
IoT-embedded devices have particular difficulties. These devices must be capable of supporting and observing changing communication protocols (e.g., Wi-Fi, Bluetooth). Another consideration is response time, or how quickly a device can communicate data with other devices such as smartphones or cloud servers.
Security is another essential component. IoT-connected devices must successfully meet security standards to give users confidence that their data is being handled and stored in a way that respects their privacy.
Healthcare institutions have been using embedded systems in medical equipment for a while. Embedded systems are used in a new generation of medical gadgets that can assist in treating patients who require ongoing monitoring and care at home. These systems include sensors to collect health-related patient information, such as heart rate, pulse rate, or readings from implants. This information is transferred to the cloud, where a doctor may wirelessly analyze the patient’s report on their smartphone. For effective patient diagnosis and treatment, medical gadgets are employed extensively. Some examples include:
- Ultrasound scanners
Video Games Console
They are different home entertainment systems, depending on your activities.
Nevertheless, modern video game consoles have become more and more like full-fledged computers.
However, the primary purpose of video game consoles is still to play games. Therefore, the hardware has been optimized to support this function and be less expensive than general-purpose computers. The controllers, dedicated GPU, storage media, visual output, audio output, and CD/card readers are all parts of a video game system.
The additional difficulty of being able to control power consumption and operate for a sufficient length of time is one that portable video gaming systems must overcome.
The automotive industry develops and deploys embedded technologies to improve vehicle safety. Road fatalities have dramatically decreased in recent years thanks to car safety features. Because embedded systems are necessary, the automotive industry goes above and beyond to fortify cars with cutting-edge technological systems and sensors.
Adaptive speed control, automobile breakdown warning, pedestrian detection, merging assistance, airbags, and other active safety systems are some prominent examples. The risk of accidents is expected to be reduced, and demand for embedded systems is expected to increase worldwide by these characteristics.
Additional instances of embedded systems in automobiles include:
- Navigation systems for cars
- Brake anti-lock systems
- Entertainment systems for vehicles
Nowadays, who does not own a cell phone? The mobile phone is the best example of how embedded systems have altered our modern life.
Mobile phones have effectively turned what we currently know about computers into a very portable form. The development of smartphones has made it feasible for them to accomplish functions that were previously only achievable on desktop computers or laptops, in addition to serving as radio communication devices.
Mobile phones’ functional capabilities continue to grow significantly while staying within reach of the average person.
Transit and Fare Collection
The Automated Fare Collection (AFC) ticketing system enables customers to pay for their tickets online or at ticket kiosks. Coins and tokens were once used in these systems, but magnetic stripe cards or smart cards have now taken their place. A ticket vending machine, an automatic gate machine, and a ticket checking machine make up an AFC, a standard station gadget.
Urban transport systems have implemented AFC with smart cards. These are affordable technologies that give greater security along with data collecting opportunities, in place of the paper tickets and passes that are still used by city transit buses and commuter trains.
Typical locations for automated fare-collecting devices include:
- Metro stations
- Bus terminals
- Railroad platforms
Factory robots are made to carry out specific duties in hazardous environments. To link various subsystems, they have an embedded system that is integrated. Robots use actuators, sensors, and software to sense the surroundings and safely produce the necessary output in everyday mechanical work.
Robots must rely on external control or computer systems without an embedded system. A delay or breakdown in the connection link between the manufacturing robot and its external computing system may increase safety concerns. As Industry 4.0 materializes, these systems are fusing artificial intelligence and machine learning to make machinery smarter, safer, and more efficient. For instance, robots can detect flaws that a human eye wouldn’t see and stop manufacturing those items.
Embedded system devices have profoundly changed our lives, making them more accessible and enjoyable. We can now communicate with each other from anywhere in the world, access information from the internet, control and monitor our home environment, and find our way with GPS navigation. They have enabled us to automate tasks that used to take a lot of time and effort and have provided us with a plethora of features that make life easier. They have enabled us to accomplish more in less time and provided unprecedented convenience. Previously unimaginable level of control and flexibility is brought into our life by employing embedded devices in various daily-use systems. We can now control, monitor and manage our lives in ways that were once thought impossible. Embedded system devices have revolutionized our lives, making them more efficient and enjoyable.