Embedded systems are specialised computers used in larger systems or machines to control equipments such as automobiles, home appliances, communication, control and office machines. The fact that such systems are everywhere and in our everyday life has been well recongnized by different European actors, through the launching of the ARTEMIS (http://www.artemis-office.org
) platform for embedded systems that has the objectives, among others, of keeping Europe’s leading position in the field, accelerate innovation, and promote education in embedded systems.
Such pervasivity is particularly evident in immersive realities, i.e., scenarios in which invisible embedded systems need to continuosly interact with human users, in order to provide continuous sensed information and to react to service requests from the users themselves. Examples of such scenarios are digital libraries and eTourism, automotive, next generation buildings and infrastructures, eHealth, domotics. Having the users at the centre poses many new challenges to the current middleware and service technologies for embedded systems, in terms of
- Dynamicity: sensors and services are no more static, as in classical networks, e.g., for environmental monitoring and management or surveillance, but the overall distributed system (consisting of all the sensors and devices and appliances) need to continuously adapt on the basis of the user context, habits, etc., by adding/removing/composing on-the-fly basic elements (services offered by sensors/devices/appliances);
- Scalability: in order to really immerse the users in the system, the number of sensors/devices/appliances should be huge, at least an order of magnitude more than the current situations. As an example, the current best-in-class smart houses count for tenths of sensors/devices/appliances, the next generation smart houses for all (see further in the proposal for this concept) will count hundreds of devices;
- Dependability: when the users are at then centre, they heavily depend and thrust on the environment/system itself, and therefore it should be highly dependable;
- Security and privacy: when the users are at the centre, the security of the overall invisible environment is crucial; moreover, such an environment, if hacked, could potentially provide any sensible information on the users (this is especially critical when the users have some disease, disabilities, etc.), and therefore the design of such a system should pay specific attention to privacy preservation, that should be built-in in the system, and not added-on later, as in current design practices.
These considerations require, in the Consortium opinion, novel techniques and middleware technologies targeted to person-centric embedded systems (i.e., usable in immersive scenarios).