A Brief Guide to Embedded App Development

What is Embedded App Development?

Embedded application software is the root of smart devices such as intelligent thermostats and smartphones. An embedded application is software that is permanently contained in a device to perform a particular set of tasks. Software development is a mixture of technology, architecture, and domain knowledge to create and maintain applications by specifying, documenting, conceiving, designing, programming, testing, and debugging. Therefore, embedded app development is the process of creating and maintaining software that is permanently contained in a device to perform a specific set of tasks through specifying, documenting, conceiving, designing, programming, testing, and debugging using an embedded computer. An embedded computer is a microprocessor-based system designed specifically to perform a specific task; it comes with hardware and software designed to withstand different conditions and achieve specific tasks.

Embedded Systems 101

An embedded system is just a computer system; it contains a computer processor, peripheral devices, and computer memory used to perform a specific task either individually or within a bigger electronic or mechanical system. An embedded system contains an integrated circuit for real-time computing operations. We use embedded system applications in our everyday lives; the embedded system applications vary according to their complexity and the task it is designed to do. Examples include smartwatches, intelligent microwaves, and thermostats.

Basic Structure of an Embedded System

· Sensor

The sensor does the work of measuring variables in the real world such as temperature, lich, pressure, et cetera.

· A-D Converter

 An analog-to-digital converter translates the analog signal from the sensor to a digital signal.

·Processor and ASICs

They process the data from the sensor to examine the output.

· D-A Converter

A digital-to-analog converter converts digital data from the processor to analog data.

·Actuator

The actuator performs a task for the system, such as an electromagnetic solenoid or a motor.  

Skills necessary for embedded app development

As an embedded app development engineer, you will need certain skills, such as knowing programming languages and technologies. Some of these include; C and C++, KiCAD, python to build automation and scripting, nerves for embedded Linux, and phoenix or elixir for low latency power sockets. Moreover, embedded app development relates closely with the Internet of Things; hence it is necessary to have IoT knowledge on techniques and platforms such as PlatformIO to carry out embedded C and C++ projects and AWS IoT for MQTT pub-sub used for large-scale deployment projects. Embedded app developers need to have technical hardware design expertise for embedded systems and should be able to work with PCB design subcontractors and manufacturers. If you are looking for an embedded app development position, expertise in firmware development is a necessity, and knowledge in network systems will be a bonus.    

Tools necessary for embedded application development

·Editor

A text editor is a necessary tool for an embedded app developer. The text editor allows you to write code in programming language for embedded system apps.

· Complier or Assembler

It would help if you had a compiler or an assembler to translate the code you have written into instructions called a hex code on which the microcontroller will operate. In simple terms, it translates the high-level to low-level programming language.

· Linkers

A linker is a program that combines the codes saved in various files into one final program for execution.

· Libraries

A library is a prior written program that already has some specific function, and you can use it instantly. You can control LEDs and read sensors.

· Debugger

The work of a debugger is to help you get rid of small mistakes and bugs.

· Simulator

A simulator is used to review and alter the code you have written using a simulation to test its functionality in a real-life situation.

The Future of Embedded App Development

The industry of embedded app development and the embedded systems, in general, is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade driven by the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning and deep learning. The embedded app development industry's growth will lead to improved security, cloud connectivity, deep learning applications, mesh networking, reduced energy consumption, and visualizing tools containing real-time data. The global market for embedded systems was valued at 68.9 billion dollars in 2017 and is estimated to rise to 105.7 billion dollars by 2025.   

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