Difference Between IoT and Embedded Systems

The term “embedded systems” is usually used to describe the devices or machines that operate with minimum or no human supervision. Probably any device that runs software can be called an embedded system to some extent. Think of your dishwasher, microwave, washing machine, or oven: these devices arrive with a computer board that is pre-programmed and requires no updating.

Embedded systems are a subset of the Internet of Things (IoT), an integration of devices connected to the internet. Small software programs that implement a few functions tend to be embedded systems. The IoT is a process in which objects are equipped with sensors, processors for the hardware development, software systems, protocols and web APIs, which together create a connected environment of embedded systems. 

An embedded system is a computer with a dedicated function within a larger mechanical or electrical system. They often perform pre-defined tasks with very specific requirements.

IoT is an integration that can have many connectivity options and devices; however, IoT has nothing to do with technical specifications. IoT includes embedded technology, network technology, and information technology. Embedded systems can become part of the IoT infrastructure when you connect them to network technology and information technology infrastructure. IoT can be constantly programmatically updated according to the environment. 

How does IoT relate to embedded systems?

Most Internet of Things (IoT) products are in fact embedded devices which are connected to the internet. IoT fans imagine a world where the internet and cloud resources process huge amounts of data collected by these devices, and use it to improve the services and devices.

With the growth of IoT, micro-controller firmware engineers, who specialize in C programming, know some assembly languages, and are adept at designing simple devices, will be in high demand.

IoT systems overview 

The Internet of Things describes a mass of sensors, computers, and network connections designed into objects (embedded systems) so that they can be centrally controlled. This technology has a huge potential, as its efficiency creates significant economic value. The Internet of Things is the opportunity to update and configure the functionality of the devices through the cloud platform.

Smart homes are one manifestation of the IoT. With one click of a button, or one tap of an icon, you can control your lighting, thermostat, alarm clock, and other devices connected to an app on your smartphone.

You may have a smart home speaker, for example, which helps you to control some other connected devices in your home with just the sound of your voice. 

The IoT is great, but with its conveniences come many risks. Having devices monitoring the environment poses many concerns: the invasion of privacy and potential risks of getting your devices hacked and controlled by third parties, or having your data harvested by the manufacturers of such devices.

So, basically, IoT is a network of objects that are connected to the internet, and through the internet, an embedded system is able to collect and exchange data. Internet of Things works through the embedded applications that can be used to control and monitor your other devices from anywhere. 

Embedded systems overview 

Embedded systems are hardware and software programs that are embedded into everyday things. These programs are set to perform certain functions which can not be updated once the system is shipped to the customer. Embedded systems can be found in every house in washing machines, routers, modems, microwave ovens, toaster ovens, and dishwashers.  

Embedded systems are a combination of customized hardware and software that performs one specific task. 

Customized hardware is a specific design that suits the system and has a particular set of requirements. 

Customized software is a developed program that performs the desired function. Embedded systems are limited in terms of resources, as they have lesser computing power, memory, and peripherals. 

Embedded systems have unique features and characteristics like low power consumption, real-time computing, high availability, which makes them very important for developing IoT technology. Embedded systems are key enablers of the Internet of Things. 

As a good example, think of your mobile phone. This model has specific hardware like storage space, screen type, camera pixels, etc. The software requirements depend on the hardware capability. The brand of the phone releases a new update. For other models of phone, this update is applicable, but for this one – it is not.

This is the nature of embedded systems. There are embedded boards that support different controllers developed using software and hardware units. Embedded systems cab be microprocessors that are are usually a part of a bigger device where they have a certain function to perform in the device.

Difference between IoT and embedded systems

The Internet of Things products can be used for home automation, and the embedded systems are within the products networked together to automate and control air conditioning, heating, etc.

Think of an embedded system as any electronic device that assists you in solving a specific problem:

  • mobile phones
  • microwaves
  • coffee machines
  • fridges
  • air conditioning
  • traffic lights
  • remote controls

These computer-integrated products are all examples of embedded systems. There are many embedded systems in cars , such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, and SatNav systems.

Embedded systems are usually small software programs with few functions, embedded into the item, and that can not be changed once the item leaves the factory. An embedded system can be linked to the Internet of Things if it has been programmed to connect to the internet.

The Internet of Things is now the most trending technology because we can control our devices from anywhere using this technology. With the help of certain sensors, actuators, processors, software systems, web APIs, the Internet of Things creates a connected environment of embedded systems.

Embedded systems and IoT usually work together: while IoT connects a set of embedded devices, these embedded devices with sensors collect and exchange data regarding the changes in device and capturing relevant data, such as sound, motion, temperature, etc. This data is sent via the internet to a smartphone that has an internet connection. 

The Internet of Things means implementing everything in the cloud, which makes it more complex than an embedded system. The Internet of Things may have access to bid data, while an embedded system does not. Embedded systems do not introduce privacy and security concerns into devices because they are not able to transmit data on their own.

With the advancement of wireless communication, the devices will be able to connect to each other seamlessly. The future of IoT and embedded systems depends on the improvement of the technologies for faster communication with high intertwined connections between devices. 

IoT is getting more and more popular in our daily lives, so this technology’s advancement is inevitable and can be definitely expected to continue. This can pose some problems with privacy and security, which will require new solutions and improvements of the system security of internet-connected embedded systems.

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