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Embedded software is everywhere

Today, embedded software is so integrated in our everyday life that only few of us think about it when we use it.

"The global market for intelligent embedded systems is rapidly expanding. It is expected to grow from 38 billion Euro in 2004 to 72 billion in 2009," professor Kim Guldstrand Larsen, Managing Director of CISS, explains.

There is no doubt that products incorporating intelligent embedded software hold a competitive advantage. The largest challenge for companies in e.g. Denmark is that most of the products they manufacture can be copied - and probably are - somewhere in teh East, where it is possible to manufacture the same product to a fraction of the price in Denmark. If we are to avoid this, one possible solution is to make sure we incorporate some intelligence and high-tech knowledge in the products. That makes the products harder to copy.

Processor on pumps

Grundfos is one of the companies that use intelligent embedded software in their products.

"If you have a hot-water tank at home, only a few probably consider the fact that inside the Grundfos central-heating pump there is a processor which controls pressure and flow as well as takes care of the communication with the remote control. There is embedded software in modern oil-fired boilers too - and in cars, to a steadily increasing degree. They have ABS brakes - and the more modern ones have a self-diagnosis system so the mechanic can simply use a measuring instrument for asking the car what is wrong with it," vice director of CISS, associate professor Henrik Schiøler explains. He continues:

"There is embedded software in a pace maker - and a mobile phone. Think of all the features it incorporates that have nothing to do with telephony - several of them are based on embedded software. Hot drinks dispensers, heart rate monitors, satellites... Embedded software is everywhere!"

Keeping an eye on the sick

No one even wants to or dares predict where intelligent embedded software will take us. Because there is no doubt that we have only just seen the beginning. But Henrik Schiøler is not enthusiastic about everything:

"In many cases, we create a need with embedded software. Every time a new and more advanced mobile phone appears, the technology-happy - and the teenagers - want the latest model. That is of course an advantage for the manufacturers, but..." Henrik Schiøler ponders and continues:

"On the other hand, embedded software within for instance health care can take care of a large number of necessary tasks. It is becoming increasingly common to be able to remote-monitor chronically ill patients. Home Automation is another example. For instance, it is a pretty ingenious thing to enable the smoke detector in the basement to notify your alarm clock if it detects smoke in the middle of the night."



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