All personal and business computers run on software but what about the rest of the world? When was the last time you plugged your electric toothbrush into a computer, or programed your dishwasher to run at 5am every third Monday? The answer is never. So why don’t we build software for household appliances? Over half of the households in America have more than 5 household electronic devices, which means there is a growing market for home software. We will be building an operating system for your refrigerator!
People are buying more and more electronics, which means we’re all going to have to deal with the software that runs on those devices. We’ll be able to unlock new features, improve safety and change how we interact with everyday activities. But with millions of hardware devices in our homes, it’s not easy for consumers to understand what the best options are. For many technology companies, the challenge is to create software for use on existing hardware or appliances — often purchased from multiple competing manufacturers — recognize that reality and make sure customers can use it successfully.
We are looking for a software engineer who can help us create a new software product that will run on a variety of household appliances and consumer electronic devices. The goal of this project is to make it easier for people to use their appliances and devices with minimal effort, so they don’t have to worry about setting up new connections every time they want to use an appliance or device. We want to make sure that this product is easy to install, easy for users to get started with, and easy for them to stay connected.
You’ll be working with other engineers on the team, some of whom have been working on projects like this for years. They’ll be able to help you understand what we’re trying to achieve and how we want it done.
An embedded system is a combination of computer hardware and software designed for a specific function. Embedded systems may also function within a larger system. The systems can be programmable or have a fixed functionality. Industrial machines, consumer electronics, agricultural and processing industry devices, automobiles, medical equipment, cameras, digital watches, household appliances, airplanes, vending machines and toys, as well as mobile devices, are possible locations for an embedded system.
While embedded systems are computing systems, they can range from having no user interface (UI) — for example, on devices designed to perform a single task — to complex graphical user interfaces (GUIs), such as in mobile devices. User interfaces can include buttons, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and touchscreen sensing. Some systems use remote user interfaces as well.
MarketsandMarkets, a business-to-business (B2B) research firm, predicted that the embedded market will be worth $116.2 billion by 2025. Chip manufacturers for embedded systems include many well-known technology companies, such as Apple, IBM, Intel and Texas Instruments. The expected growth is partially due to the continued investment in artificial intelligence (AI), mobile computing and the need for chips designed for high-level processing.
How does an embedded system work?
Embedded systems always function as part of a complete device — that’s what’s meant by the term embedded. They are low-cost, low-power-consuming, small computers that are embedded in other mechanical or electrical systems. Generally, they comprise a processor, power supply, and memory and communication ports. Embedded systems use the communication ports to transmit data between the processor and peripheral devices — often, other embedded systems — using a communication protocol. The processor interprets this data with the help of minimal software stored on the memory. The software is usually highly specific to the function that the embedded system serves.
The processor may be a microprocessor or microcontroller. Microcontrollers are simply microprocessors with peripheral interfaces and integrated memory included. Microprocessors use separate integrated circuits for memory and peripherals instead of including them on the chip. Both can be used, but microprocessors typically require more support circuitry than microcontrollers because there is less integrated into the microprocessor. The term system on a chip (SoC) is often used. SoCs include multiple processors and interfaces on a single chip. They are often used for high-volume embedded systems. Some example SoC types are the application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) and the field-programmable gate array (FPGA).
Often, embedded systems are used in real-time operating environments and use a real-time operating system (RTOS) to communicate with the hardware. Near-real-time approaches are suitable at higher levels of chip capability, defined by designers who have increasingly decided the systems are generally fast enough and the tasks tolerant of slight variations in reaction. In these instances, stripped-down versions of the Linux operating system are commonly deployed, although other OSes have been pared down to run on embedded systems, including Embedded Java and Windows IoT (formerly Windows Embedded).