by Erwin Schoitsch and Amund Skavhaug

Embedded Systems are a key if Europe is to remain in the forefront of digital technology and as such they have been classified as an important research area for the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme - the main financial tool through which the EU supports research and development activities. The IST/FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) programme 'Beyond the Horizon', coordinated by ERCIM, points out that Embedded Systems, in combination with pervasive - or ubiquitous - computing, (cognitive) intelligence and software-intensive systems, which in fact means 'embedded intelligence', or 'smart systems' in the broader context of 'smart environments', are the most important challenge for strategic, long-term research, with a huge impact on society and the economy. The ITEA2 Roadmap (Information Technology for European Advancement) reaches the same conclusion - that Embedded Systems are a crucial technology for European competitiveness.

Illustration by Pertti Jarla.

by Erwin Schoitsch and Wilfried Kubinger

Embedded systems are everywhere today and will be even more prevalent in the future. Most of them perform simple control and support tasks on command in a pre-programmed manner, but that's not the end of the line. Increasingly, they are designed to carry out autonomous tasks including "intelligence" (smart systems). They are also designed to be able to decide, based on complex inputs and situation awareness, what to do under circumstances defined by an unreliable environment. Autonomous vehicles are the next step in this direction.

by Frank Bomarius, Martin Becker and Thomas Kleinberger

Our aging societies are facing the problem that more and more elderly people want to live longer at home, in their preferred environment, despite diseases and handicaps. We have a great opportunity to tackle this major demographical problem by building embedded intelligence into systems for Ambient Assisted Living (AAL).

by Thomas Gruber and Erwin Schoitsch

Vehicles connected via continuous wireless communication with road infrastructure on motorways, exchanging data and information relevant for the specific road segment to increase overall road safety and enable co-operative traffic management – this is the vision of the Coopers project.

by Bernt Meerbeek, Jettie Hoonhout, Peter Bingley and Albert van Breemen

Can a robot cat be a buddy for children and adults? Philips Research in the Netherlands developed iCat, a prototype of an emotionally intelligent user-interface robot. It can be used as a game buddy for children or as a TV assistant, or play many other roles.

by Wolfgang Herzner, Bernhard Huber, György Csertan and Andras Balogh

'Smart systems' applications like adaptive cruise control or brake-by-wire, rely on predictable and reliable embedded system platforms as infrastructure. For the development of such dependable applications, it is therefore of crucial interest to avoid faults during design and development. Besides intensive testing, an important way of minimising the risk of faults is by controlling the design and development process, as well as maximising the coherence of the resulting system with the initial requirements. The model-based tool-chain developed by the DECOS project is described.

by Kjetil Svarstad

Imagine you are at the airport, your flight is indefinitely delayed, you are bored, and your PDA-based chess program offers you no real challenge. Luckily, you have a machine description of the most powerful chess machine architecture (like IBM's Deep Blue) available on your PDA which you download to the nearest AHEAD-tag server, and then you can play Grand Master-level chess on the tag with your PDA as client until your flight is finally called.

by Alain Girault

Fault-tolerance is the ability of a system to maintain its functionality, even in the presence of faults. With the advent of ubiquitous computing and distributed embedded systems, it is becoming an aspect more and more crucial. We have provided new functionalities to the SynDEx system-level CAD software. SynDEx is ideal for optimising distributed real-time embedded systems and our new functionalities allow us to guarantee a specified fault-tolerance level for the generated embeddable code.

by Jan Friso Groote

Can a car drive faster than the speed limit the cruise control indicates? Are computerised protocols between planes and air traffic control safe? Communication between software components in cars, planes and other intelligent embedded systems is often very complex and prone to errors. The Design and Analysis of Systems group at Eindhoven University of Technology is releasing a new toolset, mCRL2, to improve the quality of embedded system design.

by Reinhard von Hanxleden, Xin Li, Partha Roop, Zoran Salcic and Li Hsien Yoong

Embedded real-time systems must react continuously to stimuli from their environment. Therefore, their control-flow patterns differ from those of traditional systems that transform a given input to an output at their own pace. Reactive processors provide direct hardware support for reactive control flow, which keeps executables fast and compact and results in lower power consumption compared to traditional architectures.

by Konstantinos Kapelonis, Sven Karsson, and Angelos Bilas

Tagged Procedure Calls (TPC) is a new approach addressing the problem of the high programmer effort needed to achieve scalable execution. TPC is targeted at architectures ranging from small embedded systems to large-scale multi-core processors and provides an efficient programming model easy to understand and exploit.

by Constantine Stephanidis

Ambient Intelligence (AmI) presents a vision of tomorrow where 'intelligent' environments react in an attentive, adaptive and active (sometimes proactive) way to the presence and activities of humans and objects in order to provide appropriate services to the inhabitants of these environments. It is an emerging field of research and development that is rapidly gaining wide attention from an increasing number of researchers and practitioners worldwide, particularly in Europe.

by Veikko Ikonen

The project EASE (Ecological Approach to Smart Environments) aims to offer more profound analysis and research-based evidence to support the design of smart environments. Furthermore, the aim is to analyse the design issues related to the smart environments and offer some general guidelines for the design of smart environments in different application areas.

by Reza Razavi

A key enabling technology for Ambient Intelligence (AmI) is Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs). Macroprogramming WSNs by non-programmer end-users is being studied as a step towards an omnipresent World Wide Web interface for the provision of personalised ambient services.

by Valerie Issarny, Nikolaos Georgantas and Sonia Ben Mokhtar

With computing and communication capabilities now embedded in more and more physical objects in the surrounding environment and with most users carrying wireless computing devices, the pervasive computing vision pioneered by Mark Weiser is being realised more than ever. Nevertheless, such an abundance of ambient capabilities in the open, dynamic pervasive environment naturally comes with high heterogeneity, which hinders their ad hoc integration into rich pervasive applications. Within the INRIA ARLES team, we are investigating efficient solutions to pervasive heterogeneity building upon semantic service-oriented architectures.

by Simon Dobson and Kieran Delaney

Sensor networks are the key enabling technology for building systems that adapt autonomously to their environment, without direct human intervention. Most sensor networks operate in free air, but research being conducted in Ireland, between the School of Computer Science and Informatics at UCD Dublin and the Centre for Adaptive Wireless Systems at Cork IT, is starting to explore the tools and techniques we need in order to build 'augmented materials' which combine sensing, actuation and processing into the fabric of built objects.

by Gabriele Kotsis, Anelia Mitseva and Neeli R. Prasad

Recent developments in research and technology have drawn attention to wireless sensor networks as one of the key enabling technologies of the next ten years. ubiquitous intelligent sensing environments have a promising future in supporting the everyday life of European citizens, bringing important social benefits for each person and for society as a whole. Taking into account the current fragmentation of European research in this field, the CRUISE Network of Excellence (NoE) aims to be a focal point in the coordination of research on communication and application aspects of wireless sensor networking in Europe.

by Ovidiu Vermesan, Nadine Pesonen, Cristina Rusu, Aarne Oja, Peter Enoksson and Helge Rustad

IntelliSense RFID project expands the technical and market potential of RFID technology by developing multi-protocol devices with sensing capabilities that are able to sense the environment and communicate at different frequency bands.

by Paul Couderc

Ubiquitous and collaborative capture unveils new perspectives in ambient computing. In the same way that distributed computing proposed approaches to the distribution of data and processing on a set of computing nodes, collaborative capture will have to propose efficient and practical solutions to recompose structured data from items collected asynchronously from contributing nodes.

by Eberhard Mueller and Ulrich Hofman

A research project funded by the FIT-IT programme of the Austrian ministry for traffic, innovation and technology (BMVIT) investigates the potential of different energy sources for communication purposes, especially for out-door activities.

by Kevin Hammond

The EU-funded EmBounded project aims to develop new techniques for providing formal guarantees on resource usage bounds. It is a collaborative project between AbsInt GmbH, a high-tech company specialising in high integrity real-time systems, and academic partners in the UK, France and Germany.

by Simon Dobson, Steve Neely, Graeme Stevenson, Lorcan Coyle and Paddy Nixon

The vision of pervasive computing is that objects, buildings and environments may be endowed with software intelligence to improve human interactions both with the individual objects and with the system as a whole. Realising this dream is posing significant challenges for designers - allowing individual applications to co-exist in a common space without interfering, making the capabilities of new sensors and services available to other applications as they appear and providing the necessary decentralised control to obtain robust behaviour.

by Gabriele Lenzini, Santtu Toivonen and Ilkka Uusitalo

Conducted as part of the EU-ITEA Trust4All project, which aims to enhance dependability in networked and component-based systems, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Dutch Telematica Instituut began investigating trustworthiness evaluation in ubiquitous environments. So far, the research has concerned context-aware trust and trust evaluation with indirect information.

by Ben Schouten and Onkar Ambekar

Embedded systems and ambient technology enable users to interact at any time and anywhere. In the BASIS project for identity management, CWI investigates transparent biometrics in home environments. Possible application areas are user profiling for shopping , listening to one’s favourite music and operating gadgets and appliances in the home.

by Gabriele Lenzini, Johan Muskens and Andrew Tokmakoff

As part of the EU-ITEA research programme, Trust4All project partners from industry, research institutes and universities teamed up to design and develop an embedded systems framework that helps component-based applications to maintain a high level of dependability and security. Philips research and the Dutch Telematica Instituut designed and developed the framework's trustworthiness management features.

Next issue: July 2021
Special theme:
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