Embedded technologies are indispensable for dealing with socio-political challenges such as climate protection, demographic development or increasing resource efficiency. In key branches of industry they also form the basis for most of the innovations. An overview of the latest developments in the embedded field will be shown at electronica—the world’s leading trade fair and conference for electronics—from November 10 to 13, 2020 in Munich.
Computers are disappearing from our perception but remain at the same time omnipresent as advances in microelectronics allow intelligent functions to now be implemented locally, wherever they’re needed. Embedded systems like these usually operate with a high degree of autonomy. That applies to recording (sensors) the environment, interacting (actuators) with it and communicating with other embedded systems or computers. The required functions are increasingly provided by artificial intelligence (AI) and pattern recognition algorithms.
Data processing takes place in a central data center (cloud) or, more and more frequently, at the point of origin itself (edge computing). The latter is particularly suitable for time- and safety-critical applications, but also helps reduce the huge amounts of data to be transferred. In a largely automated, adaptive production environment or in autonomous vehicles, direct processing of the data in the device even proves to be essential, for example, to avoid impending machine failure or accidents. It does, however, require “intelligence” that is specifically tailored to scarce resources.
AIfES (Artificial Intelligence for Embedded Systems) from Fraunhofer IMS (Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems), for example, enables intelligent microelectronics and sensors to be developed that require no connection to a cloud and are capable of learning on their own. AIfES contains a fully configurable artificial neural network (ANN) with feedforward structure, which makes even neural networks possible.
Since processing with AIfES takes place “offline” on the device, no sensitive data has to be transmitted, so privacy is ensured. Preventive and seamlessly integratable security solutions are, however, required to protect the networked and increasingly complex systems against hackers. And that applies not only to companies but also to politics. Just think of attacks on critical infrastructure, for example, in the energy sector or connected car applications. However, classic cyber security approaches such as anti-virus software or patches and updates do not work for IoT devices. Security requirements for embedded systems must therefore be taken into account right at the development stage (security by design).
Transmission should be much more secure in the future via 5G. However, networking machines and devices with the new mobile standard will gain momentum mainly due to its ultra-low latency and high data transmission rates. Energy consumption will also be much lower.
The Gartner analyst firm expects the 3.5 million 5G IoT nodes this year to rise to 49 million by 2023. From 2023, embedded systems in connected cars will then make account for the lion’s share. Until then, outdoor surveillance cameras will be the main growth drivers. 5G will, however, also be used in the future in sensor cloud systems to monitor highly dynamic production processes more thoroughly and control them adaptively.
Alongside a separate exhibition area on the topic of embedded, in which the focus is on industrial control units, software solutions and development tools for microcontrollers, electronica and the Elektronikpraxis electronics magazine are holding the electronica Embedded Platforms Conference (eEPC) on November 11 and 12, 2020. It serves as a communication platform for component, tool, software and solution providers. Highlight topics such as Embedded ICs & Boards, Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence, Sensors & IOT or Software & Tools will show, among other things, requirements and challenges for embedded platforms today and in the future. The first confirmed speakers come from Analog Devices, Infineon Technologies, Kontron Europe, On Semiconductor, Swissbit and Texas Instruments, to name just a few.
As part of the expanded concept of this year’s electronica, the conference can be visited live on site and followed online via streaming. The complete program will be available on the website from the start of September.