Top 10 embedded inventions of the last 10 years

May 16, 2016 OpenSystems Media

In a recent interview with Ray Zinn, I asked him what he thought was the greatest invention of his lifetime. He came up with a bunch of good answers, but I quickly realized that for our purposes, we should be discussing the discoveries/inventions/movements/etc. in the embedded world. To narrow it down even further, I’m going to add the caveat that it should be something that was developed in the last decade.

Here’s my list of the greatest embedded inventions of the last ten years. Clearly, I’m using the word “inventions” very loosely.

  1. The Internet of Things (IoT) – I’m guessing that you’ve heard enough about this technology, so suffice to say that it’s huge and it’s not going anywhere any time soon.
  2. The rollout of development boards – Dev kits have been around for a long, long time, but they’ve made a big resurgence in the past decade, fueled by products like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and BeagleBone
  3. The evolution of the ARM architecture – Sure, ARM has been around for way longer than ten years, but in the last decade, the architecture has made some significant inroads into the embedded arena.
  4. The prominence of security – Security has moved to the forefront in nearly every embedded design. Unfortunately, the reason for this need is because of the number of hacks that have been occurring.
  5. The use of Linux – Today, designers don’t think twice about dropping a Linux kernel into their designs. Most of the questions surrounding performance, stability, security, etc., have been answered in the affirmative.
  6. The blending of consumer electronics with medical electronics – Partly fueled by the iPhone phenomenon, consumer medical devices are readily available at your neighborhood drugstore, and they’re easier than ever to use.
  7. The automating of back-end tools – Compilers and debuggers do all the work for you now, right? Not exactly, but the automation that’s built in today sure makes a developer’s life easier.
  8. The use of digital power – Not too long ago, digital power was an oxymoron that made analog engineers chuckle. That’s not the case anymore. In fact, the number of digital power systems that are replacing the traditional all-analog version is growing quite quickly.
  9. Electronics in the automobile – Cars practically drive themselves now, and before long, they’ll be doing that. Today’s most modern vehicles are equipped with a plethora safety and entertainment features.
  10. 3D printing – Over the past ten years, this technology has moved from pie in the sky to something that many developers would not be willing to live without. The concept of getting prototypes built in an hour was almost unthinkable ten years ago. Today, it’s reality and it’s affordable.

Agree, disagree? What’s on your list?

Rich Nass, Embedded Computing Brand Director
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