What is meant by an embedded system? Well, Embedded Systems might sound super technical and complex to an ordinary man. To define embedded systems is easy. We come across appliances equipped with embedded devices every now and then. Theoretically speaking, we will answer all your queries inclusive of What is an Embedded System, Embedded System Characteristics, and various Types of Embedded Systems.

As a matter of fact, you are holding one right now, i.e., your smartphone. Or probably you are accessing a computer screen. You can easily spot an embedded device around you. And also, we are addicted to using them daily.

Wondering how? Ever noticed, most of the time, we don’t realize the presence of embedded devices? Gadgets like washing machines, microwaves, Automated Teller Machines, mobile phones, etc., are all devices that integrate hardware and software (or firmware) to function. Such devices have embedded systems incorporated in them.

Embedded Systems Development enables the building of devices supported by software that performs single or multiple tasks.

What is an Embedded System?

To define embedded system, a high-end technical computer system that performs power-specific tasks only. These are a combination of hardware and software. This integrated system is smarter than human efforts combined.

An embedded system may work as a standalone device or become a part of a bigger machinery.

Characteristics of Embedded System: Know How an Embedded System Works!

When someone defines human traits, we paint a picture of the person in our mind. Don’t we?

For instance, after listening to someone’s description, we think that person A is arrogant, or person B is very naive, and so on.

Similarly, embedded systems features are many. But, we have listed the most basic characteristics of embedded systems below. Let’s explore the embedded system characteristics:

  • Embedded Systems Ought to Have a Superfast Processor Engine

The foremost embedded system characteristic worth knowing is that an embedded system is no less than a computer. And, it is no surprise that every computer needs an engine. The systems engineer can decide whether he wants to put a microcontroller unit or a microprocessor unit (MCU & MPU).

  • Have a Minimalistic, or Perhaps, No UI

You are reading this blog on your phone or computer screen. You scroll up and down; this means that you are interacting with the UI of the website. Phones and PCs have a bi-directional UI. But, an embedded system need not have an interactive UI. This is one of the unknown/unexplored features of embedded systems.

Since there is no UI, it will be difficult to gauge the existing bugs. Hence, the system has to be built so that they function precisely.

  • Sort a Particular Purpose

Multiple processors control a vehicle. Are you thinking, why can’t mechanics use a single system to handle everything?

Well, each embedded system is meant to handle a specific function. The controllers might have similar characteristics overall. But, they will differ in the power, memory, different applications, inputs and outputs, and also operating systems.

You cannot expect an embedded system to perform a function other than the one it has been functioning to do.

  • Embedded Systems are Built-In

Have you ever downloaded an embedded system application? Or have you ever seen an embedded app on Play Store or App Store? No, right?

All mobile applications and hardware devices are programmed embedded systems while manufacturing.

  • Use Real-Time OS

RTOS (Real-Time Operating System) is an OS that helps in ensuring that apps are processing the data right at the time of it being entered. A delay in data processing results in system failure.

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RTOS designs for embedded software development can be classified into two:

i. Event-Driven RTOS – RTOS switches to another task only in the case of a high-priority task.

ii. Time-Sharing RTOS – As the name suggests, switches to another task when the clock interrupts. There is no automatic assignment of priority tasks. The motto behind this is to ensure progress in all tasks.

  • Have Quick Boot Systems

We press a button on our device, and it quickly switches on. But, in reality, there is a long sequence of boot steps that we neither know of nor get to see.

In other words, it is simple in theory but complex practically.

  • Embedded Systems Are Resource & Power Limited

First, here’s a comparison – Computers that we work on have a memory that we can calculate in terabytes (TB). But, when it comes to Embedded Systems, engineers always try to fit the required things into compact spaces.

Second, to make the devices user-friendly, embedded engineers have to efficiently design the machine. Their aim has to be the lowest possible power consumption without hampering the device’s output.

Having explained the characteristics of embedded systems in detail, we will throw some light on the types of embedded systems.

Read More: Winning Tactics of Hardware Software Integration for your Company

What are the Types of Embedded Systems?

Embedded systems types are divided into two sections. Various types of embedded systems in the industry differ a little in their characteristics. Read further to know more.

Types of Embedded Systems

1 – Stand Alone Embedded Systems

The first type of embedded systems is stand alone systems. The name suggests that embedded systems neither need a host system nor a computer; they work independently. It accepts digital or analog inputs from the input ports to convert the data for connected devices.

Stand alone Embedded Systems Examples – Video Game Consoles, Digital Cameras, MP3 Players, etc.

2 – Networked Embedded Systems

This is the fastest growing type in embedded systems. It is a network (LAN, WAN, or Internet) that lets users access the resources. It can be a wired or a wireless connection. All devices are synced with the web server, and a web browser accesses and controls them all.

Examples of Embedded Systems – Home security systems with all sensors connected to the protocol.

SEE ALSO: Minimizing the Challenges in Embedded Systems Security

3 – Mobile Embedded Systems

These are used in portable devices like smartphones, digital cameras, personal digital assistants, MP3 music players, etc. The only disadvantage is that they have limited memory.

Mobile Embedded Systems Examples – Fitted in digital cameras, personal digital assistants, MP3 music players, etc.

4 – Real-Time Embedded Systems

The RTOS embedded system is the one that provides the output in an immediate time frame. These embedded systems applications can be further classified into two systems – soft and hard real-time systems. That’s it with the embedded software examples.

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Applications of Embedded Systems

We don’t gain trust in things unless we see their real-life applications. Well, this is human nature, and it is natural for us to do so.

So, here are some of the real-time examples and applications of embedded systems:

1. In automobiles and telecommunications – Embedded systems are found in motor and cruise control systems, engineering safety, entertainment and media in a car, robotics, wireless communication, mobile computing, and networking.

2. Smart Cards, Missiles & Satellites also consit security systems, telephone, automated banking systems, defense, aerospace, etc.

3. The main aim of the embedded system on highways is to detect a vehicle crossing the

4. Most Consumer Electronics also have embedded systems within. Even home automation systems are integrated with devices controlled with embedded software.

5. Vehicle Tracking and GPS become easy with the embedded systems. This aids in identifying the vehicle’s location also.

6. Another great use of embedded systems is in the industrial areas for Temperature Control purposes. This smart system can detect rising or dropping temperatures and can act accordingly.

7. Warfield robotics also uses embedded devices to spy on borders. They also help detect what is inside the cartons and boxes of the goods.

These were the embedded systems examples. Now, let’s move to the advantages and disadvantages of embedded systems.

Read More: Types of Operating Systems in Embedded Devices

Advantages & Disadvantages of Embedded Systems

Since embedded systems have become an inseparable part of our lives today, some viewpoints sometimes favor and sometimes don’t favor humankind.

Advantages of Embedded Systems

These embedded systems come with a lot of pros:

  • Help in delivering higher quality results
  • Quite steady and speedy as compared to basic electronic systems
  • Usable in more than one errand
  • More accuracy in outcomes
  • Flexible in dynamic weather conditions
  • Less inclination toward errors
  • Much constant in results.

Disadvantages of Embedded Systems

However, there are a few impediments that embedded systems undergo. As follows:

  • Hard to take backups
  • Restricted memory assets
  • Difficult to maintain
  • Only trained experts can use
  • Can’t multi-task at times
  • Scalability issues arise at times.

Embedded Systems Terminologies

Do you remember your school days when there used to be a glossary section at the end of each chapter?

Similarly, the following are some terminologies that will help you in understanding embedded systems better:

1 – Reliability

Reliability is the possible chance of survival of an embedded system, and this is usually measured during the most crucial machine’s run time.

2 – Fault-Tolerance

The system’s capability to survive through all the barriers and faults, whether technical or mechanical, is the fault tolerance capacity of the system.

3 – Real-Time

Every embedded system is programmed to function well within time, and every action or counter-action has to be quick enough for the job to be completed.

4 – Flexibility

These systems possess debugging capacity that allows maintenance of devices even in remote locations. It’s like a spacecraft that goes into outer space on a mission with self-solving capabilities.

Final Chapter – What is an Embedded System?

We hope that we have answered your queries about what an embedded system is, embedded systems characteristics, and embedded systems types.

Being an experienced embedded system development company, we develop codes, test, and deliver high-end quality results. Be it a stand-alone or machine-to-machine (M2M) communication device, reach out to us for a robust solution. Hire embedded software engineers from Excellent Webworld for the most robust solutions.

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What is an Embedded System? – Frequently Asked Questions

The major difference between embedded systems from general purpose systems is that the embedded systems are designed to perform only one specific function whereas general purpose systems are fully efficient to perform versatile tasks.

Following are the embedded systems characteristics:

  • Have a superfast processor engine.
  • Minimalistic or no UI at all.
  • Sort a particular purpose or perform a specific function.
  • Come built-in in the devices rather than visible on the outside.
  • Quick boot system.
  • Use real-time operating systems.

The purpose of embedded systems is to perform, control, or manage a particular function. Embedded systems are built in order to fulfill a specific role.

Paresh Sagar

Article By

Paresh Sagar

Paresh Sagar is the CEO of Excellent Webworld. He firmly believes in using technology to solve challenges. His dedication and attention to detail make him an expert in helping startups in different industries digitalize their businesses globally.