Did you know the first embedded system appeared about 50 years ago? It was the Apollo Guidance Computer used to control the onboard equipment for space missions.
Now, different embedded devices make our day-to-day lives easier, and it’s software for embedded systems that makes them run. Think of smartphones, an infotainment system in a car, or a washing machine at home. An embedded system powers them all. However, how is an embedded solution developed?
To get an answer to this question, go on reading this article. You’ll learn what an embedded system is and what steps you must take develop it.
What Is an Embedded System?
Before moving to the steps needed for embedded system development, let’s define what the very embedded system is. Embedded system is a set of software and hardware designed to perform specific functions. An example can be a smartwatch or heart rate monitor the doctor puts on a patient. These little devices run on custom software and perform determined commands.
Simply put, an embedded system requires a combination of software and hardware to operate. It consists of microprocessors, microcontrollers, protocol converters, drivers, and software. If in doubt about where to start with the embedded process, get embedded development services from Lemberg Solutions’s team.
Depending on the purpose of embedded systems, they fall into several categories.
- Standalone embedded system doesn’t require a host computer to operate. It can work independently, fully meeting the users needs. Examples are refrigerators, washing machines, calculators, and mobile phones.
- Real-time embedded system is connected to a computer and transfers data right away. Such a type of embedded system is used in medicine and the military.
- Networked embedded systems rely on wired and wireless communication withservers. For example, a digital camera and POS system in a restaurant are connected to the data center with the help of a wired connection.
- Mobile embedded systems operate using a compact computing system integrated into smartphones and laptops. They enhance user experience and let the devices perform more functions. Examples are GPS sensor, temperature sensor, biometric sensors, and touch controllers.
What Are the Steps of Developing Embedded Systems?
The development of any system requires thorough planning, and embedded software is no exception. The software development for embedded systems must go through six main stages before being released to the market, and we will explain each of them below.
This step is at the core of a successful embedded system development. Together with a development team, you will set your expectations, determine the project goal, discuss the system’s functionality, and agree on the development process. At this stage, organizational points like the development methodology (Scrum or Kanban) and deliverables are also discussed.
After the requirements are agreed, it’s time to move to the development. System design is the second step in embedded systems development stages. It’s necessary to know how can the product achieve required functionalities. Here, the developers define project architecture and select components, thinking about how they will interact. At this stage, you will receive project documentation with diagrams, roadmaps, exception criteria, and a description of each feature agreed.
Hardware design is no less important in the firmware development process than other steps we list. Hardware for embedded systems often poses constraints like limited memory or compatibility issues; thus, it’s very important to be deeply involved at this stage. The developers select electronic components, define circuit connections, and consider hardware limitations factors. This step is important to ensure the future embedded system fully covers the desired functionality.
In the heart of the embedded software development process lies coding. This stage involves implementing functionality using the programming languages you’ve selected at the requirements analysis stage. Since this stage is the main one, it usually takes the longest.
Testing and Verification
This step is crucial to ensure the product’s reliability and uninterrupted operation. Quality Assurance managers test the embedded system to ensure it works spotlessly and meets the requirements. At this stage, you can already check the product you have ordered from the software development team and think of a marketing campaign before moving to the final stage — deployment.
Deployment and Maintenance
After the embedded systems software development and testing are over, it’s time to let the market meet a new-born solution. Once the system is bug-free, it’s deployed to the environment agreed before.
After release, there’s a need to agree with the development team on future support and maintenance of the product. As the market evolves, you may want to adjust or update the system, and here, the support of an expert who has brought the system to life is indispensable.
In today’s ever-changing world, embedded systems are designed to make our lives more comfortable and safe. We have dedicated household chores to embedded devices like refrigerators and washing machines long ago and now rely on smartphones and smartwatches to track our activities.
When there’s an idea to bring another embedded system to life, it’s important to understand the nature of the product you are going to create. It can be one of the following:
- real-time embedded system,
- standalone embedded system,
- networked embedded systems,
- mobile embedded system.
As a product owner, you can be involved in each stage of the embedded system development process if desired. However, if you’d like to dedicate it to a trusted partner, the only step that requires your attention is requirements analysis. After all the functionality is agreed, the system and hardware design stages begin. The main and most time-consuming one is software development. The ready system is properly tested until it’s bug-free, and after deployment, the market can welcome the new product.