An embedded device is a highly specialized device meant for one or very few specific purposes and is usually embedded or included within another object or as part of a larger system. Usually, the device is part of a system that serves a greater purpose, for example, a heart rate monitor embedded in a wristwatch that can connect to a smart phone to display the heart’s status in real time or an accelerometer embedded in shoes to monitor speed, distance traveled and calories burned. POS and ATM machines are also examples of embedded devices or systems.
Embedded devices and systems have extensive applications in commercial, consumer, industrial, automotive, health-care and many other industries because of their diminutive and inconspicuous nature. Generally, whatever operating system or firmware an embedded device has can only run one specific application or purpose in order to do its job, and this is because the device is meant to be very small, so it must consume very small amounts of power and also has very little computing power. The hardware for these types of devices is kept small and cheap; for example, instead of a general-purpose CPU, the device might only have an 8-bit microcontroller or a dedicated processor called an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) or digital signal processor.
Embedded computers in some home and kitchen appliances are able to communicate with each other; for example, some modern refrigerators can notify the user that there are no more eggs through the display in the microwave that the user is currently interacting with. This system has to be especially designed with these functionalities in mind, so embedded devices and computers that are part of the system have to do specific tasks.
These are now also gaining much use in the automotive industry for smart cars, which have computerized engine and climate controls. The avionics in modern airplanes and fighter planes are also embedded systems.