On the heels of CES, Embedded World, MWC and SXSW—“embedded” is no longer the fair-haired stepchild behind PCs. The market is embedded. Here’s what I’m looking for at this week’s EE Live! / ESC conference and exhibition.
Rant: I hate typing that silly exclamation point in the conference’s name. Think it’d be funny to replace it with a question mark? As in “EE Live?” Not sure what question this would be asking, any more than I have a clue why the good folks at UBM added the “!”.
Here’s my list of wanna-sees at EE Live! 2014 and my reasons why.
- The IoT, IoE, M2M, connected everything. I expect to see more small module makers announcing connectivity options and remote control smartphone apps. The emphasis will be on extreme battery life for some systems (such as Bluetooth Low Energy), the aggregation of myriad roll-your-own sensors, and connectivity. While I saw all kinds of Wi-Fi and cellular add-on boards at the 2013 Telit Wireless Devcon and wrote about Qualcomm here, I’ve yet to see much emphasis on wireless connectivity in the general embedded market. I expect it to happen in a groundswell…eventually.
- Anything which contains low power from Intel such as Bay Trail Atoms or Quark or whatever. I know Intel is winning designs, but are they really getting traction against ARM-based SoCs?
- Is the RTOS dead? Wind River now has VxWorks 7 and it’s oriented around the IoT. Wind River is great at spotting trends and I consider them credible. So is the need for determinism really all that important in most embedded systems? Betcha not, but I want to test that theory.
- Embedded security…or at least the glimmer of awareness. I harp on this all the time. Vendors from Mocana to Icon Labs (one of our bloggers) to GD’s Open Kernel Labs and Wind River understand security. But what about the other 98% of the embedded market? Let’s see if they’re getting the message yet. Or do we need a few dozen more Target stores security breaches to wake up the designers.
- Something that’s not a commodity and the same as everyone else’s product. An SBC’s an SBC. But this year at EE Live I’m meeting with scores of new-to-me companies like Cymbet (solid state micro energy sources) and Newark Element14 with their RIoTboard.org initiative. At the risk of sounding elitist, show me something new!
- Sensors and stuff: if this whole Internet of Things thing is real (it is), all those intelligent hubs and connected pipes will eventually terminate at…something. That endpoint will measure voltage, temperature, pressure, wigwams/hour, or whatever. I’m expecting to see some interesting new sensors, collection of sensors, or endpoint devices/systems.
- Demo boards:
Inforce Computing, Gumstix, Element14, and more should be at EE Live! talking up ways to get neophytes up to speed on their next system. But equally important will be the academic, hobbyist, and engineer-at-night users who will create the next iRobot idea or company.
- The demise of 8-bit: it’s been rumored since I ran an 8/16-bit MCU group at Sharp 10 years ago, yet 8-bangers are as popular today (in consumer white goods, for instance) as they’ve ever been. Microchip just announced their latest 8-bit PIC MCU with intelligent analog and a surfeit of peripherals. I’m anxious to ask them why, but they’re on a financial roll lately and have few stumbles. Maybe 8-bit is here to stay.
- And finally, a retrospective is always fun. Whatever happened to former ESC (before it was EE Live! that is) initiatives like: Machine vision, Multicore, and Virtualization? They’ve either disappeared or gone mainstream. I think the latter, and I’m hoping to see how they’ve been integrated.
I’ll update you as I wander the aisles of EE Live! / ESC and meet with embedded suppliers.