Does Consumer Electronics Drive Embedded or Vice Versa?

Posted by: Thom Denholm

The hot topics in the consumer electronics segments today are Android, installable applications, sexy user interfaces, sensors like GPS receivers, gyroscopes and accelerometers and larger capacity/smaller size storage. Ever since I read Roy's blog post on CES, I've been asking myself when we'll start seeing the impact of trends in consumer electronics on the more general embedded market. Just as buying a car causes you to see that model everywhere, it seems like asking the question has made it so. In the past few weeks we've seen a dramatic increase in the number of customers considering a move from traditional RTOS's to Linux - more specifically, Android. Many are in the "tire kicking" stage and may never make the switch, but the tide has clearly turned in that direction. The appeal seems to be a combination of user interface - which becomes more important as data use, which has also taken a leap skyward on embedded devices, increases - and ease of application development, perhaps even leveraging the burgeoning application marketplaces that have developed around smartphones. Then again, much of what's happening in the consumer electronics space is old hat in embedded systems: working in resource constrained environments, power efficiency and dealing with ruggedness requirements. I guess the real migration is that consumer electronics are combining technologies proven in embedded into multifunction devices, smaller packages with slicker form factors to meet the trendy demands of consumers.

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