Written by: Piotr Strzałkowski, Embedded Domain Expert
The excitement following the embedded world 2022 event may be slowly subsiding, but we are anxious to share what we spotted, what caught our interest, and where we feel there is potential for our development. At the beginning of this year, we attempted to forecast trends in embedded – but has the show actually confirmed our assumptions? Check it out!
We are all witnessing a silicon-related slowdown in the market, but nonetheless, some technical news and tidbits have emerged.
What caught our eye right at the start was ST’s Bluetooth 5.3, which supports object tracking using AoA technology. Single board modules incorporating both Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6 from muRata also promise to be an interesting option.
The icing on the cake was the car displays. Not the usual ones, though, but quite extraordinary ones – devices were presented that imitate a wooden dashboard when in standby, but display images when touched.
A prototype of a holographic touchscreen display straight out of a sci-fi movie was also shown. The image is displayed in the air and you can interact with it and physically press virtual buttons – pretty cool, right?
Just as we predicted at the beginning of the year, AI in embedded is on the rise. We were not mistaken when we said that microcontrollers with peripherals accelerating the calculations needed for artificial intelligence or peripherals enabling the implementation of HW neural networks have become a permanent fixture in semiconductor manufacturers’ product portfolios.
At Embedded World 2022, one of the exponents of the smart sensors group caught our attention. It was the BHI260AP sensor from Bosch, to be more precise. It contains a 6-axis IMU and, in addition, has a modifiable artificial intelligence that analyzes the results from the IMU. Not so long ago, here in Solwit, we came across this solution as part of one of the embedded projects. And we can definitely confirm – it worked superbly.
The other newcomer was one of NET GmbH’s IAM series cameras with built-in object recognition based on FPGAs and AI and OpenCV technologies. We got to see a demo of the product, which only reassured us that solutions in this class are becoming increasingly compact and fast.
When we were covering embedded trends for 2022, we expected MicroPython and C++ to lead the way in embedded systems software. Yet the reality caught us off guard – it is the RUST language that is starting to make its mark and more and more companies are boasting that their software is developed in it. It seems that this safer to C++ alternative is starting to be embraced by developers and manufacturers. All that, of course, makes the RUST fans in Solwit extremely happy (and there are quite a few of them here!).
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has unveiled the Raspberry Pi Pico (RP2040) chip, which differs substantially from previous designs. The new board features a dual-core microcontroller based on ARM Cortex-M0+ technology, 264kB RAM, and up to 16MB flash. The RP2040 can be programmed using the available SDK written in C or MicroPython – it seems that the new Raspberry Pi Pico board could very well bring projects using the latter to popularity.
It is becoming apparent that the security industry is also developing considerably. At ST’s stand, a system based on selected integrated circuits and microcontrollers from the SPCxxx series, a mobile phone, and NFC communication, enabling access to vehicles, was showcased. It seems that this solution might be the remedy for the issues with previous keyless entry systems.
At the event, we also spotted companies that offered security ecosystems for IoT devices, thanks to which it is possible to monitor the status of the system in real-time and analyze its vulnerabilities. We are very delighted with the emergence of newer and newer security systems, as it proves the surging awareness of Security among manufacturers and users.
Microcontroller manufacturers are introducing newer, faster, and more complex devices, securing code and communication interfaces. This only serves to support our prediction that the cyber security of embedded software is and will continue to be crucial.
This year’s EW 2022 proves that the embedded industry is not slowing down in either embedded hardware or embedded software. Our predictions have mostly proven true. The combination of RPI and MicroPython will certainly have a positive impact on the spread of this system. On top of that, more and more interesting AI on edge solutions will keep coming up, and HW security solutions will develop, as will new IoT security ecosystems. In addition, a new player has emerged that can contribute a lot to the quality of the software – RUST, that is.
Piotr Strzałkowski, the author of this article, is an embedded expert and has been working at Solwit for over 10 years. He has participated in many projects for customers from various industries, but he feels best in systems for the automotive industry. He is an expert in implementing cybersecurity solutions in embedded software, and is the core strength of the team responsible for IoT solutions implementation.