Over the next 20 years, the trend will continue towards everything wireless and everything wireless communicating with everything else. From toasters to bicycles, just about every type of “device” will be communicating with every other “device.”
All embedded designs will have to adjust to this paradigm as even the simplest of products will be communicating with the rest of the “things” around them. For example, bicycles will be able to tell you how fast you are going, your average speed, when you stopped, for how long you stopped, and will even be able to know to turn down your MP3 player when you're approaching an intersection.
The future will consist of a great symbiotic system with all devices communicating with each other. This means embedded electronic designs will have a presence in devices and equipment we never thought we'd put electronic components on; and we all better understand how to operate in a wireless environment in order to be successful.
The processors in 20 years will be super fast. By 2028 single digit nanometer technology will be the norm. Also, configuration will be a thing of the past. Today we spend a lot of time in an embedded environment trying to figure out how to configure systems. In 1988 when the whole concept of Windows was just getting started, everything had to be configured.
Now, in our personal lives you fire up your PC and it just works. I believe that the embedded environment will be this way in 2028 with everything self-configuring. Another big push will be around collaboration in virtual workspaces. Engineers will be using touch or voice commanded technology in a virtual work environment making it much easier to collaborate in a global economy.
Another key area of change will be in power consumption and green technologies. Today, power consumption is still somewhat heavy. No longer will we have to ask the question “how long will my battery last?” Battery and duty cycles will be a thing of the past. Resource utilization maximization will be a part of our daily lives.Culturally, our interactions with technology will become more personal. This means that everyone will have the ability to customize the way they access and communicate information- whether it be work, video games, film, music or literature—through personal communication devices. The technological guard surrounding us will grow even thicker, leaving little room for old fashioned, face-to-face interaction.
We can already see a glimpse of the future in a lot of the work we are doing today. By looking at where we were 20 years ago in comparison to now, it is amazing to think where will be in 2028.
Joel Young has more than 22 years of experience in developing and managing data and voice communications. He joined Digi International as Vice president of engineering in June 2000 and is currently the senior vice president of research and development and chief technical officer.