If you have any knowledge of the IT industry, you might have heard about embedded systems. Not quite sure what that means or how embedded systems are used in real life? This article will help you understand what this technology is and where you can come across it.

According to a report made by Transparency Market Research, a global embedded system market is expected to reach a value of more than $233 billion by 2021. This is a 46% growth, taking into account that these numbers were $159 billion in 2015 according to data provided by Zion Market Research, proving a tendency of embedded systems development in the close future. This type of development can have a great impact on IT businesses and be especially useful for startup companies. Before diving into some examples of such solutions, let’s define what an embedded system actually is.

What Is an Embedded System?

An embedded system is a dedicated computer system that is created for one or several functions. It is part of a multi-purpose device that includes both hardware and software, but is something totally different to an ordinary personal computer we use on a regular basis. Embedded systems (ESs) are designed to perform a specific task, rather than a wide range of tasks as smartphones, laptops, or many other smart devices do.

Four categories of embedded systems are as follows:                                   


  • Stand-alone;
  • Real-time;
  • Networked; and
  • Mobile.


Each category is based on functional requirements and performance of an ES. The systems which belong to the stand-alone category work by themselves and do not need host systems as computers do. Real-time ESs are aimed at following deadlines to complete a task, networked ESs require Internet connection for proper functioning, and the last category includes portable devices.

The Advantages of Embedded Systems:


  • No need for hardware updates;
  • Concentration on a specific task;
  • Flexibility of operating system requirements;
  • Economy of storage and power resources; and
  • Cost-effectiveness.


After forming a better understanding of the theories and ES destinations, let’s quote some of the most popular and widespread examples.

Embedded System Examples with Real Life Application

There are many various types of tools we often use without knowing they are ESs. In this paragraph, you will be introduced to some you actually know very well. We have decided to list ESs which are commonly used in today’s cars, and the ones you have definitely used even if you do not have a driver’s license.

Vehicle Embedded Systems Examples

Today’s vehicles are complex and smart mechanisms that contain many different embedded systems that are designed to help drivers control a car and ensure road safety.

Example #1: Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)

An anti-lock braking system, commonly known as ABS, is created to control car braking in a way that allows for less chances of skidding on slippery roads. It ensures better contact with the road by controlling brake pressure if a car starts skidding while braking.

Example #2: Adaptive Cruise Control

Many modern cars have an embedded adaptive cruise control system – and, of course, these vehicles have a higher price. An adaptive cruise control system is standard equipment for driverless cars. It controls the speed of a car by using a braking system while taking into account the distance between a current vehicle and the one right in front of it. Such cars are usually equipped with RADAR or LIDAR to determine their distance.

Example #3: Airbag Control System

All modern cars have airbags to make driving safer. So how do these airbags “know” when to inflate? This is exactly what an airbag control system does: it detects a collision using a crash sensor and sends a command to the ignition system to make airbags inflate. The entire process from start to finish takes 0.1 seconds.

Examples of Embedded Systems in Modern Life

You may be surprised to know that these unexpected systems also contain ESs.

Example #4: Engineering Calculators

A calculator is an old embedded system. Sure, most of us now use calculator apps on our smartphones, but you likely still have an electronic one somewhere at home. Engineering calculators are very efficient, and modern ones are programmable and have a powerful processor to solve complex tasks.

Example #5: An Automated Teller Machine (ATM)

Everyone is familiar with ATMs for withdrawing money. An ATM is an embedded system which uses a host computer to establish a network between a bank computer and an ATM itself. It also has a microcontroller to carry both input and output operations.

Example #6: An Automatic Washing Machine

Do you know that most modern household appliances are actually ESs? Your automatic washing machine is another example of an embedded system. It can contain a simple user interface, microcontroller, and various sensors.

Example #7: Industrial Robots

In industrial plants, most processes are performed by robots: painting, installing, packing, etc. These are all ESs as they are each created to perform a single task. Developers may program industrial robots to perform various actions to accomplish the task they are used for.

As you can see, embedded systems surround us and we deal with them in our everyday lives without even noticing it. Smart technologies are much closer than we may think and they make our work (and downtime) much easier and more comfortable. Embedded systems programming allows for the creation of custom devices that will make our world even more technologically advanced. The internet of things and ESs will obviously continue to be a part of our digital future.