Common embedded systems can be broken into four types based on performance as well as functional requirements:
Real-time embedded systems are designed and installed to carry out specific tasks within a pre-defined time limit. They are further divided into two different types:
Some of the real-time embedded systems examples are:
These are self-sufficient systems that do not rely on a host system like a processor or a computer to perform tasks. Here are some standalone embedded technology examples:
These systems are connected to a wired or wireless network to perform assigned tasks and provide output to the connected devices. They are comprised of components like controllers and sensors. Here are some network embedded software examples:
These systems are smaller in size and easy to use. Though they come with limited memory, people still prefer them due to their portability and handiness. Here are a few mobile embedded control systems examples:
The main characteristics of typical embedded systems include:
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There are many things with embedded systems incorporated in the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as in machine to machine (M2M) devices. Exceptionally versatile and adaptable, embedded systems can be found in all smart devices today. It is difficult to find a single portion of modern life that doesn’t involve this technology. Here are some of the real-life examples of embedded system applications.
Central heating systems convert the chemical energy into thermal energy in a furnace room and transfer that energy into heat, which is then delivered to numerous spaces within a building. It is important for these systems to have thermostat controls to adjust the temperature, which is achieved by an embedded system.
If a central heating system isn’t provided with temperature controls, it can lead to overheating one room while leaving another room cold. The right thermostat controls will allow you to adjust the temperature to a comfortable level and save energy extensively.
Embedded system examples in central heating can be found in a range of structures that require temperature control, both for comfort and for management of temperature-sensitive goods.
The GPS is a navigation system that uses satellites and receivers to synchronize data related to location, time, and velocity. The receiver or device that receives the data has an integrated embedded system to facilitate the application of a global positioning system. The embedded GPS devices allow people to find their current locations and destinations easily. Thus, they are gaining rapid momentum and becoming the most widely used navigation tools for automobiles.
Nowadays, GPS systems are generally used in:
Fitness trackers are wearable devices that can monitor your health and track activities like sleeping, running, and walking. These devices use embedded systems to garner data related to your heart rate, body temperature, and the number of footsteps, which is further sent to servers via WAN like LTE or GPRS.
Fitness trackers are generally used for:
Medical devices in healthcare facilities have been incorporating embedded systems for quite some time. A new class of medical devices use embedded systems to help treat patients who need frequent monitoring and constant attention at home. These systems are embedded with sensors to gather data related to patients’ health like heart rate, pulse rate, or readings from implants, which are sent to a cloud where a doctor can review patient data on their device wirelessly. Medical devices have been widely used for diagnosing and treating patients efficiently, and some of their examples are:
Learn about security and reliability in connected medical devices
Automotive embedded systems are designed and installed to enhance the safety of automobiles. Thanks to the safety systems in vehicles, the traffic fatality rate has plummeted in recent years. Automobile industries are going the extra mile to reinforce automobiles with advanced technology systems and sensors, which is not possible without embedded systems.
Some key examples of an active safety system include adaptive speed control, car breakdown warning, pedestrian recognition, merging assistance, airbags, and more. These are a few features anticipated to mitigate the risk of accidents and foster the demand for embedded systems across the globe.
Some more examples of automotive embedded systems include:
Automated Fare Collection (AFC) is a ticketing system that allows passengers to pay the fare through ticket vending machines or online services. These systems were originated with coins and tokens but have been replaced with magnetic stripe cards or smart cards. An AFC is a basic station device comprising a ticket vending machine, automatic gate machine, and ticket checking machine. These components are embedded systems that ensure faster transactions, seamless operations, and more efficient payment collection.
While city transit bus and commuter rails still use paper tickets and passes, urban transit systems have adopted AFC with smart cards, which are inexpensive technologies and offer additional security along with data collection options.
Automated fare collection systems are generally found at:
If you are looking for embedded processor examples in the transportation sector, see some of our customer stories, sharing how Digi embedded System-on-Modules are designed into transit and vehicle applications:
An automated teller machine (ATM) is a computerized machine used in banking that communicates with a host bank computer over a network. The bank computer verifies all the data entered by the users and stores all transactions, while the embedded system in the ATM displays the transaction data and processes inputs from the ATM keyboard.
An ATM is mostly used to:
Factory robots are designed to perform high-precision tasks under dangerous work conditions. They have an integrated embedded system to connect different subsystems. In a typical mechanical job, robots employ actuators, sensors, and software to perceive the environment and derive intended output safely.
Without an embedded system, robots would have to rely on external control or computing systems. This, in turn, can elevate the safety risks due to delay or failure in the connection link between the factory robot and its external computing system. Today, as Industry 4.0 comes to fruition, these systems are integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning to make equipment smarter, safer and more effective — for example, enabling machines to identify defects that the human eye wouldn't see, and remove these from production.
Factory robots have a range of applications:
Electric vehicle charging stations are equipped with charging points or units that supply electric power to charge connected vehicles. An embedded system resides in the charging station to provide processing for graphics displays, report any issues with the device and alert technicians when maintenance is required. This embedded solution provides an easy and cost-effective approach to monitoring and maintaining the charging infrastructure. A number of Digi customers, such as AddÉnergie, are developing solutions to serve this growing market.
Some of the common uses of electric vehicle charging stations include:
Self-service kiosks are designed to offer services and information to end-users in environments where human employee presence isn’t possible or cost-effective. For instance, these machines and terminals allow a passenger in an empty airport to buy a meal at 4 am without interacting with human workers. Interactive kiosks come in all shapes and sizes, from simple coffee dispensing systems to complex vending machines and fuel stations with high-definition graphics. For this reason, it is important for embedded developers to work with a scalable product line like Digi ConnectCore® 8X/8M system-on-modules (SOMs), which support development of product lines with scaling levels of functionality.
An embedded system provides the processing for connected, self-service kiosk machines, offering an interactive consumer experience. These systems can be developed to function in remote and outdoor environments and deliver information and services even in extreme weather conditions. They can also eliminate downtime for real-time applications and have expandable I/O options designed for workload consolidation.
Apart from airports, interactive kiosk machines are mostly found in:
People often question the importance of embedded systems in daily life. These small computers are integrated into various systems for performing specific image and data processing tasks, and thus significantly impact the way we commute, spend our leisure time, run business, and perform various other daily activities.
Still wondering where can you find embedded systems? Whether you work in a restaurant, office, health practice, factory or other environment, your workplace is full of systems that are built with embedded devices, like elevators, printers, routers and point of sale systems. In brief, they can be found everywhere in our society — from vehicles and EV charging stations to vending machines, lottery ticket systems and digital signage to sophisticated medical equipment.
Here are some of the reasons why embedded systems are becoming prevalent across the globe:
Additionally, embedded modules are becoming more sophisticated and powerful all the time, and are increasing in graphics performance and edge compute capabilities, giving embedded developers the tools to bring high-performance market-driven products to market.
The significance of embedded systems is so much that the world without them would look considerably different than it does today. Thanks to the continuous tech advancements, they will become more crucial for every device in the foreseeable future. Understanding why we use embedded systems and a plethora of examples where they are installed will make you better equipped to perceive the tech world around you and leverage the benefits of this exciting technology.
At Digi, we’ve taken embedded systems and development tools to the next level. Our embedded systems are complete solutions for wireless application development, with developer tools and built-in security. Learn more about our embedded systems solutions and contact us to start a conversation.