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Published: 10/01/2024

Introduction to Embedded Software: an Overview of its Popularity and Uses

This article is sourced from Radosław Szmit’s Linkedin newsletter. If you want to delve deeper into the IT business and stay abreast of the latest updates, follow Radek on Linkedin for continuous insights!

From whom do insights come? 

At DAC.digital, Radek performs the role of Head of Growth and executes growth and business strategies for one of Europe’s fastest-growing software and AI companies. With over 14 years of experience in the IT industry, he has helped numerous clients and partners achieve their digital transformation goals and create value for their end customers.

Introduction to embedded software: an overview of its popularity and uses

It may seem astonishing that an average individual uses embedded software daily. We live in a world of intelligent everyday objects, watches, pens, and furniture, where embedded software plays a vital role. The common notion is that embedded software is just software for small computers. This definition does not do justice to its importance or scope.

In today’s issue of “Software Development Insights,” I describe what embedded software is, present a few common examples, and why outsourcing is an effective way for that kind of software development.

What exactly is embedded software?

Simply put, embedded software is specialized programming for specific hardware (an embedded system) designed to repeatedly perform an explicit function in the physical world.

Embedded software development differs quite a bit compared to application software development. For example, engineers who develop embedded software are rarely just computer scientists. They are experts in software applications and understand the target architecture with which they have to work.

It requires a highly skilled team that best understands computers and the physical world. Some recognizable examples of embedded software applications are systems on wireless headphones, motion detection systems in security cameras, image processing systems in medical imaging devices, the system tracking fitness on a smartwatch, etc.

Common examples of embedded software

Embedded Software in MedTech

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Health Services (UK) deployed remote devices to monitor infected patients and those with existing chronic conditions. Remote monitoring devices equipped with embedded software recorded the patients’ vitals and alerted the patient and the concerned authority if vitals were beyond or under acceptable limits. Such devices were available before the pandemic but were used by few. This necessity-based express adoption and its success have opened a “whole new world”.

Other standard MedTech devices equipped with embedded software are CT, MRI, or X-ray, which are prepared to process signals and images to provide more explicit photos to the doctor for diagnostics. Embedded systems and software are also being increasingly used in the mechanisms built for robotic surgeries. It has gained much momentum lately. Another example is the use of auditory devices such as an electronic stethoscope.

Embedded Software in Manufacturing

Embedded systems and software have two primary applications for manufacturing: machine control and machine monitoring. This is an essential part of industrial automation and industrial IoT. Using embedded software, real-time monitoring of temperature, vibration, flow rate, analytics, and other variables can be recorded, displayed, and also used as input parameters for machine controls to adjust the parameters as required,

Embedded Software in Logistics

The logistics sector is being transformed with the use of embedded technologies. Competitive and challenging markets, in addition to consumers’ demand for faster and cheaper deliveries, have prompted logistics companies to seek out-of-the-box solutions to spear ahead of their competitors. Embedded software has been used in autonomous robots and automated guided vehicles, enabling them to receive and execute instructions to move specific item(s) from one place to another in the warehouses.

Big tech companies like Amazon have also implemented autonomous delivery drones with advanced embedded software, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Additionally, embedded software solves other challenges, such as effective fleet management, vehicle diagnostic and management, driver safety compliance, etc.

Embedded Software in Mobility

By 2035, the European Union proposed an effective ban on fossil-fuel cars. This is a step towards a more sustainable mobility solution with embedded systems at its core. Even in conventional fuel vehicles, embedded software is at the whelm of safety systems such as Traction Control, Antilock Braking System, and Electronic Stability Control. Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance Systems on aircraft and in road cars also use embedded software. Micro-mobility solutions, such as electric scooters, also have embedded software at their heart so that they can be safely rented out through mobile applications.

Dubai Metro is another excellent example of embedded software’s reliable and efficient functioning, as thousands of passengers commute in these fully automated metros. Other advanced and automated mobility solutions, such as Hyperloop, use more complex embedded software yet have stood the test of efficiency and reliability.

Why outsourcing embedded software development is popular?

Embedded software development is a highly sought-after service and will continue to boom in the coming years. Embedded software developers require skills beyond just computer science; hence, they are difficult to find, and numerous vacancies remain unfilled in this area. For a business, to constitute a team just for developing a single or few software solutions would incur higher costs and require a significant effort. In the end, in most cases, the answer would be limited to the expertise of a handful of people, if not less.

Here are some reasons why outsourcing is widespread and an effective way for embedded software development:

  • Outsourcing embedded software development would save time, not just in software development but also in talent hiring and onboarding.
  • Outsourcing to an organization with a background in research and business would ensure the use of the latest technologies and platforms for the resulting product.
  • Outsourcing would be more cost-efficient, and better budgetary control could be enforced.
  • Outsourcing would ensure that experienced professionals would develop the required software and guarantee a working project delivery.
  • Outsourcing would help mitigate risks, as the contractor must deliver a working project within the agreed cost and time frame.
  • Outsourcing would provide better options for 24/7 technical support, depending on the agreement between the firms

Embedded software will be an integral part of devices in all these growing sectors, and hence, the future of embedded software applications is bright. However, this comes with challenges for companies that seek its development.

Therefore, outsourcing the product to a specialized team is very popular and seems to remain so in the future. I already covered this topic in my newsletter; you can read it here.

Summary

At DAC.digital, we believe that embedded systems can be integral to building groundbreaking solutions across different technology departments. Our expertise, long-time experience, ever-growing curiosity, and desire to learn help us create innovative solutions that open new possibilities for innovation.

Radosław Szmit
Radosław Szmit Head of Growth

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