Living in a world of constantly evolving technologies, we enjoy the convenience they bring to our lives. From a wearable fitness tracker on your hand to an infotainment system in a car, the devices operate thanks to a hidden but critical component: an embedded system.
However, what is embedded system? How does it operate, and why is it so important for devices we use daily?
This article sheds light on the core functions of embedded systems. You’ll explore how to benefit from embedded development services. Besides, you’ll learn the definition of embedded system, its examples, the basic components software for embedded systems needs, how they interact with each other, and also discover the trends in the embedded development field.
Basic Components of an Embedded System
What are embedded systems? Simply put, an embedded system combines hardware and software designed to perform a specific task. However, there are the core components the software and hardware must have to make an embedded system work. Let’s delve deeper.
- Microcontroller or Microprocessor. These components are a central processing unit (CPU) and serve as a brain of embedded software. They are responsible for data processing, code execution, power management, communication, and security, among other critical tasks.
- Memory. An embedded system requires different memory types depending on the project requirements. Typically, it includes RAM (Random Access Memory) for temporary data storage and ROM (Read-Only Memory) for storing fixed data. It also needs Flash memory that stores data even when the power is turned off.
- Power supply. Just like any program, software for embedded systems needs power to operate. It can run on a battery or be connected to a central power supply network.
- Communication ports. These ports are important to enable communication between the embedded system and other devices. For example, a fitness tracker transmits data to a smartphone via Bluetooth.
- Text editor. This is the first component needed to develop software embedded system. A text editor is needed to create a source code for a the future system.
- Compiler. This tool is used to make the code work. The compiler translates the written source code into a low-level machine language to make the system understand commands.
- Emulator. This software component is useful during development, as it helps check how the code will perform in real-time. Additionally, this tool is helpful during testing.
- Debugger. This component is responsible for scanning the code and detecting critical issues. It points at the error and detects its type, helping programmers fix it.
How does an Embedded System Work?
Embedded systems are task-specific. This means they are designed to perform a certain task rather than hande a set of functions. For example, a cardiovascular wearable device is responsible for transferring the patient’s heart rate to a doctor. It doesn’t measure sleep patterns or temperature.
If you have ever wondered how software in embedded systems works, the answer is pretty simple. It follows 3 main steps to perform its function.
- Software initialization. As soon as the power button is pressed, the system makes hardware components like memory, CPU, and sensors work.
- Performing calculations. At this point, the system collects data and translates it into a readable format. Simply put, it does the job it has been designed for.
- Displaying the result. After the job is done, the system shows the result. It either shows the heart rate on a tonometer’s display, gives the signal that the laundry has been washed, or adjusts the temperature in your home according to the set requirements.
An embedded system can be either integrated into a computer or work on a separate specialized device.
Examples of Embedded Systems
A software embedded into a system surrounds us wherever we go, making our lives more comfortable. You can see it in any field touched by a human hand. Let’s take a closer look.
- Automotive. Embedded systems lie at the core of modern vehicles. They control car safety, performance, and convenience. Embedded systems are integrated into airbags and anti-lock brakes. Besides, they optimize fuel consumption, ensure spotless navigation, and aid in vehicle diagnostics.
- Smart Homes. Now, we can’t imagine a home without devices. The thing is, they all have embedded systems integrated. All safety systems, televisions, air conditioning, fridges, microwave ovens, and washing machines rely on embedded software to operate.
- Healthcare. Modern healthcare devices cannot work without embedded software. It powers scanners, portable ventilators, ECG machines, and blood pressure monitors, among other devices.
- Offices. Tools a modern office worker uses to perform daily tasks are also powered by embedded systems. They are integrated into printers, routers, office phones, security systems, and automatic coffee machines.
- Industrial field. Embedded systems play a pivotal role in industrialization. They control environmental parameters like temperature and pressure. Besides, such systems are responsible for making the machinery work spotlessly, making the manufacturing process smooth.
Embedded System Trends
Just like any other industry, a technological one is ruled by certain trends. The development of embedded systems is no exception. The Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and cybersecurity advancement have shaped the embedded systems we use today. In particular:
- The Internet of Things helps to connect devices, helping to make the data exchange process faster.
- Artificial Intelligence makes the embedded system smarter. It helps it to adapt to environmental conditions, improving an embedded device’s performance.
- Cybersecurity advancement is a breakthrough in embedded systems development, as such software is better protected from cyber-attacks.
We can’t imagine modern living without devices, and the thing is that it’s embedded systems that make them operate. An embedded system in software engineering is designed to perform a specific task, like displaying heart rate on a tonometer or producing a sound after the laundry is over.
A typical embedded system consists of a CPU (microcontroller and microprocessor), memory, power supply, and communication ports. It also requires a text editor, compiler, emulator, and debugger to create the software embedded system.
Embedded systems are used in many fields. The Automotive, Healthcare, Industrial, Smart Home, and Offices benefit from these systems integrated into the devices people use daily. With rapid technological advancement, embedded systems will contribute to a healthier and more secure future.