What is Embedded Software? (A Beginner’s Guide)

As embedded software specialists, we naturally get asked this question quite a bit!

 

When you hear the word ‘software’ you probably envision using a computer or mobile device, which makes sense because that type of software is likely to be one of the only types you’re actually aware of using.

The first personal computer was built in the 1970s, and by the turn of the century, there were almost 250 million. Today there are over 2 billion PCs, and over 1 billion websites, so just imagine how much software has been written for all of those!

But those enormous numbers are just a small part of the whole story. Computers, laptops and mobile devices make up only about 1% of all the software-enabled devices out there.

There are 100 billion of these devices all around us, from toasters to cars, thermostats to guided missiles, and they all require embedded software! Many of them are essential to modern life, and many are safety critical. Many of them you wouldn’t even know use software, because they have been designed to be so effortlessly simple to use that you don’t even notice them.

These embedded devices are also becoming increasingly connected to one another thanks to the Internet of Things and wireless technology, so we simply can’t afford them to fail. In fact, with many of these systems, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to update the software once it has been built in to the device (unlike computer software that can be updated over the internet or by installing a new version).

This means that it is imperative the embedded software and the device have been thoroughly tested before release. It is why we have such rigorous testing methods here at Bluefruit, and why we always put quality first, before time, scope and budget.

 

Stay tuned for our Advanced Guide to Embedded Software coming soon!