Why We Love Embedded Systems Engineers

Embedded systems engineers (ESEs) can be some of the most talented people we meet. On top of the rich educational background and skill set of an embedded systems engineer, which includes expertise in computer programming, electrical engineering, and systems design and security, they are also responsible for many of the latest life-changing innovations that are shaping the world today and the future of tomorrow.

In this blog post, we'll take a look at how embedded systems engineers are redesigning our world, using technology to drive improvement and innovation in every industry from sports to airplane manufacturing.

Embedded Systems Engineers Level the Playing Field

Embedded systems engineers are innovators above all else, and innovation finds its way into every corner of society, creating change in ways that we never thought possible. Today, embedded systems are being used in sports like swimming, running, soccer, and rugby to assist in timing, performance monitoring and even ensuring games are judged fairly by referees.

In swimming, press-plates are used at either end of the pool to stop the timer at the exact moment a swimmer reaches the finish line. In races like the 100m or 200m dash, the timer is set off by the firing of the gun and is stopped automatically when racers obstruct a laser that points across the finish line. These uses of embedded systems ensure that race officials can establish accurate timing and results.

Many of us have a Fitbit at home, but embedded systems engineers have created much more sophisticated wearable devices for athletes that can measure performance across a number of dimensions. In addition to wearable heart-rate monitors that record breathing patterns, soccer and rugby athletes can train in cleats with an embedded system tracking their total distance covered, average and top speed, and energy economy throughout a practice session. These metrics can be used to create training regimes that better prepare athletes for real-game scenarios.

Additionally, embedded systems engineers developed the "goal-line technology" used to ensure goals were awarded fairly at this past summer's FIFA World Cup. A sensor in the ball is set off only if the entire ball crosses the goal line, signifying that a goal has been scored. When this happens, a signal is sent to a watch worn by the referee, telling him to award the goal. Thanks to these embedded systems, referees are informed to make the right decisions every time.

Embedded systems and sports
Photo source: FIFA

Embedded Systems Engineers Move us Forward

Embedded systems can already be found everywhere around us, but it's possible they'll soon be operating on our roadways as well. Automated cars will require some of the most sophisticated, reliable and long-lasting embedded systems ever to be developed, which is why they're being worked on collaboratively by the giants of the automotive and technology industries - General Motors, Ford, Google, and Microsoft.

To effectively self-drive without crashing, automated vehicles will be equipped with image sensing cameras, RADAR detectors and LIDAR detectors on all sides. Each of these three systems feeds back to a centralized system that processes the input into data that be used to inform driving tasks.

In the next 20 years, the embedded systems engineers at today's most significant technology transportation companies, including Lyft, Uber, and Zipcar, will try to create fleets of autonomous cars that could replace taxis and change the ways that people move around cities. Other car makers and tech companies will work to develop autonomous cars for sale to the public. Whatever the future holds for autonomous vehicles, we're anxious to see how embedded systems engineers turn the sci-fi fantasy of self-driving cars into real life.

Embedded Systems Engineers Keep us Safe

Embedded systems engineers have created some of the most high-tech security systems and devices that are currently being used to secure homes, vehicles and other cherished property around the world. In today's society, home security systems play a practical role in deterring burglars and safeguarding our families.

Home security systems include devices like motion-sensing cameras positioned inside or outside the home, magnetic contact sensors at windows and doors, and other sensors that detect breaches or unauthorized entries and can immediately send an SMS message to the mobile phone of the homeowner. In some cases, homeowners can send a reply via SMS to the home security system, giving instruction on immediate next steps.

Embedded systems engineers have revolutionized home security by creating intelligent monitoring systems that can communicate with humans and react to threats in real time.

Security and embedded systems

Embedded Systems Engineers Reduce our Energy Usage

Embedded systems engineers have created products that are used around the world to reduce energy consumption in homes and businesses, protecting the environment and simplifying our lives.

Grocery stores are now using an innovation in the frozen food section - a motion sensor is now used to detect when a shopper stands immediately in front of one of the refrigerator doors. When the sensor is activated, overhead lighting illuminates the products inside the fridge. When the shopper steps away, the lights immediately shut off.

Simple innovations can help homeowners and businesses save on monthly electricity bills by sacrificing customer convenience.

Additionally, home automation features, like motion-activated lighting, are some of the most popular applications for embedded systems. Instead of turning off the lights when we leave a room, homes will rely on embedded systems that know where we are in our homes and whether we need lighting or not.

Embedded Systems Engineers Revolutionize Industry

Embedded systems engineers are changing the way that industries manage their shipping and supply chain operations, combining hardware advancements and the Internet of Things (IoT) to reduce, or even eliminate, sources of error in the shipping, tracking and receipt of goods from around the world.

There's been a lot of talk lately about IoT, but what is this trend all about?

The IoT is an entirely new way of thinking about technology that relies on embedded systems to turn regular items into nodes on a network. Any object can be embedded with electronic nodes that are programmable for a variety of functions, including communication with humans and other nodes on the network.

With embedded systems and the IoT, companies that are involved in shipping or supply chain can track any of their products or merchandise throughout the shipping cycle, following any load from its origin to its destination and can obtain real-time GPS data on the location of all inventory and assets. Once delivery is completed, RFID tags can be used to locate the inventory within a warehouse. This reduces the potential for lost inventory and ensures every item can be accounted for.

For large manufacturing firms that build complex projects and manage a large supply chain with long lead times, embedded systems engineers will play a massive role in creating efficiency by introducing IoT into the supply chain management process. Embedded systems can also be used to protect shipments with environmental sensors offering real-time temperature and humidity data for sensitive shipments.

 

Communications and embedded systems

Summary

Embedded systems engineers are playing an impressive role in shaping the future of our world. Their work is helping measure athletic performance and judge the outcome of sports more fairly, creating automated cars of the future, keeping our homes safe from intruders, reducing our energy costs, managing industrial supply chains and shipping more accurately, and aiding us to lead more productive and content lives.

That's why we love embedded systems engineers!