Embedded systems are more common than you may believe. You can find them in a lot of devices, such as consumer electronics, medical devices, cars, EV chargers, among others.
Before we move to the 7 real life examples of embedded systems, let’s see the definition of this concept.
What is an embedded system?
An embedded system refers to the combination of hardware and software to carry out a specific task inside a device or bigger computer system. The elements that are combined here correspond to microprocessors or microcontrollers, I/O peripheral devices, sensors, computer memories, among others.
These embedded systems are usually formed with the help of PCBs. And thanks to different interfaces, chips, and good firmware development services, it is possible to control these systems and program them for specific activities.
Examples of embedded systems
Depending on the tasks a device has to perform, the embedded system will be less or more complex for the device or the computer where it is located.
Probably you used one in school, and in the university. A calculator is a great example of an embedded system, since it has the necessary elements: integrated circuits, microprocessor, CPU, LCD screen, keyboard sensors, and a basic program to perform any mathematical calculation.
You can know more about how calculators work here. We won’t go deeper into details, but this is an example of what an embedded system is used for.
There are basic calculators that can perform the most simple math calculations, however, there are scientific calculators and financial calculators that have a more advanced system embedded in them, and that can carry out more complex calculations.
2. Washing machine
This is probably the home appliance that has evolved the most in the last years. We could say these machines used to have basic embedded systems. But now, thanks to the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT concept) in the market, we can find smart washing machines that can be activated and deactivated from an application installed in your phone.
Smart washing machines are built around a PCB (Printed Circuit Board), and they bring different IoT sensors: temperature, humidity, among others.
The embedded system in this home appliance also requires a good firmware or software that will be in charge of controlling the different components of the machine, and that guarantees that it works for the task it was designed for.
So, there will be a program that controls all aspects of the washing machine internally speaking. And there will be an app that the user can control, and from there, the person can activate the different washing cycles the smart washing machine has programmed into his embedded system.
These are one of the most popular embedded systems used today. Years ago, it was hard to think about a “flying camera” that would go everywhere to record amazing videos.
Nowadays, it is a reality. Thanks to the evolution of technology, it is easier to integrate several chips, sensors, microprocessors, batteries, gps trackers, gyroscopes, altimeters, and camera lenses into one single device.
We even helped a customer that needed help with improving the design of the PCB for a drone. This customer had a great idea, and our engineering team worked hard to make this PCB integrate smoothly with the different components this company wanted to add to their drone design.
This customer ended up with a customized PCB (PCB benefits) that was of great value for his prototype.
4. Tracking systems
Electric vehicle trackers are very popular nowadays. Companies are constantly monitoring their assets, and these products are the best way to keep track of where their vehicles are located.
Through GPS positioning systems, the tracking devices can easily show in real time where a car is located in a specific location. This embedded system is not only being used in cars, but also in cell phones and medical devices.
5. Electric vehicle charging stations
Another embedded system example we want to mention is Electric Vehicle chargers. Some of these devices are using solar panels to generate electricity, and this way, they turn into charging points for electric vehicles.
The embedded system in these devices is complex, since there needs to be a great PCB design, junction boxes, temperature sensors, regulators, and a good programming of the different components for ensuring a reliable charging for cars.
Macropads are special keyboards that allow the users to program certain commands or macros in a single keycap. At DeepSea Developments we built an open source macropad that allows people to configure it the way they want.
This device has a custom PCB that is based on ESP32, so it has bluetooth and wifi integrated. On the other hand, it has LED lights integrated, rotary encoders, an OLED screen, a connector for LiPo Battery, and an I2C port for future sensor expansions.
This keyboard is great for automating tasks, and it can connect to any API via bluetooth or wifi. Why is this possible? Thanks to the embedded system benefits.
7. Smart wearable devices
Among the best embedded system examples, we can find wearable devices. These small products bring a lot of sensors, small PCBs, and batteries.
This is a simplistic way to talk about them, but every wearable device has different components, depending on the brand, the model, and how much information they collect from the user.
For instance, there are wearable devices that can monitor blood pressure levels and oxygen levels, among other vitals. This requires advanced sensors and a great firmware that allows the devices to collect reliable data. This is one of the reasons these wearables are being used in sports (IoT in sports), health, and fitness areas.
On the other hand, companies that produce these devices need to invest a lot of money and time in several tests to guarantee that these products always provide accurate information, and that it won’t be affected by weather conditions, or sudden changes in temperature or battery performance. We wrote an article giving some IoT tips for startups.
We hope you liked these embedded system examples, and that you understand how important they are for the great performance of hardware devices.
If you are planning to build a new prototype or hardware prototype, bear in mind that the embedded systems are a crucial part of it. You need to count on a great engineering team that can understand how your product works, and make the best design and development that ensures its great performance in the long term and under any circumstances.
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