Embedded Device

What Does Embedded Device Mean?

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.


Techopedia Explains Embedded Device

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.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.