The future of information and communication technology (ICT) is driven by mobile and networked embedded systems: tomorrow’s digital cities, Industry 4.0, cyber-physical systems (CPS) and the Internet of Things (IoT) will all depend on embedded sensing of real-world phenomena, in-situ computation, large-scale computation as well as automated information exchange and data distribution using machine-to-machine (M2M) communications between local and distributed control entities.
The ‘smart grid’ is one example of an application for future embedded systems, as it uses real-time sensing of the available renewable energy to determine where energy is to be routed across the power grid and controls intelligent machinery to increase production during peak times; this requires that internet-connected smart meters are installed in industrial plants and private homes alike to facilitate real-time sensing and control of technical systems.
Another exciting area of application for embedded systems is mobile and wearable technology, which allows users to access and manipulate information ‘on the go’ as the system provides relevant and timely information — indeed, this is one of the main purposes of mobile information technology such as smartphones and tablet computers. Additional meaning for this Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is generated by the context of the device, the user, the location and many more factors, all of which are sensed and computed by a plenitude of embedded sensors and collocated or connected systems.
Wearable devices such as fitness trackers and smart watches collect bio-physiological and health-related data to facilitate novel applications, including smart contact lenses and feedback systems for the learning of physical activities. At the same time, increasing cross-device interoperability means that users of head-mounted augmented reality and virtual reality displays can, for instance, use their entire smartphone screen as a keyboard and have the typed text displayed on augmented reality glasses.