Is the Embedded Industry Dead?

By Doug Gaff

An analogy, SAT-style:
The Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) is to Embedded Engineers what
EclipseCon is to Eclipse Developers. At ESC, you will see hardware and
software engineers wandering from booth to booth, typically drawn to
anything that lights up. (Booth babes? Nah, give me blue LED’s!) The
love of this stuff goes way back. For me, it started when I was around
11 years old and armed with a soldering iron, a 100-in-one project kit
from Radio Shack, a Commodore 64, and a workbench in the basement. So
began my career path.

I’ve been in the embedded world
professionally for 15 years now. My first official embedded design—an
assignment in an EE undergraduate course—was a
microprocessor-controlled (8086) hot/cold plate that used a thermoelectric module.
If you’ve never played with a thermoelectric module, you must get one.
Stick it to a big heat sink and put a decent current through it, and
you get heat transfer through the module, which makes one side very hot
and the other side very cold. Change the direction of the current, and
the hot and cold sides switch. These devices are used in some drink coolers today, although this is far less efficient than a compressor.

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