Embedded systems are everywhere. The variety of different types of embedded systems and purposes are wide. Yet, many of these systems are islands in an age where more and more systems are being connected to the Internet. The ability to connect to the Internet can be taken advantage in multiple ways. One is to take advantage of the resources cloud computing can offer. Currently, there are no comprehensive overviews how embedded systems could be enhanced by cloud computing. In my master’s thesis “Cloud Enhanced Embedded Systems” we study what cloud enhanced embedded systems are and what their benefits, risks, typical implementation methods, and platforms are.
The study shows that the interest from academia and practice in cloud enhanced embedded systems has been growing significantly in recent years. The most prevalent research area is wireless sensor networks followed by the more recent research area Internet of things. Most of the technology is available for implementing cloud enhanced embedded systems but comprehensive development tools such as frameworks or middlewares are scarce.
Results of the study indicate that existing embedded systems and other non-computing devices would benefit from connectivity and cloud resources. This enables the development of new applications for consumers and industry that would not be possible without cloud resources. As an indication of this we see several systems developed for consumers such as remotely controlled thermostats, media players that depend on cloud resources, and network attached storage systems that integrate with cloud access and discovery. The academic literature is full of use cases for cloud enhanced embedded systems and model implementations. However, the actual integration process as well as specific engineering techniques are rarely explained or scrutinized. Currently, the typical integration process is very custom to the application. There are few examples of efforts to create specific development tools, more transparent protocols, and open hardware to support the development of ecosystems for cloud enhanced embedded systems.
The thesis was executed as an extended systematic mapping study and is free to download if you are interested to read more about the topic. If you have any feedback or questions I’m happy to discuss about the subject.