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Blurring the Lines: The Intersection of Mobile and Embedded Systems and Information Technology

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

IT-based Instructional Technologies

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.266.1 - 25.266.12

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Paper Authors


Richard G. Helps Brigham Young University

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Richard Helps' research interests are in embedded systems, human-computer interaction, and technical course design for rapidly-changing technologies. He is a member of ASEE, IEEE (IEEE-CS), ACM, and SIGITE. He has been involved in ABET accreditation as a Commissioner and Program Evaluator and continues his involvement in SIGITE in developing and promoting IT programs.

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Blurring  the  lines:  The  Intersection  of  Mobile  and  Embedded  Systems  and  Information  Technology    Embedded  systems  have  traditionally  focused  on  independent  single-­‐use  systems  using  sensors  and  actuators.  Communications  and  networking  are  growing  to  be  more  and  more  important  in  these  systems  and  consequently  embedded  systems  design  now  needs  to  consider  a  broader  range  of  issues.  Furthermore  traditional  computers  are  migrating  to  newer  platforms.  Tablets,  smart  phones  and  similar  mobile  personal  devices  now  include  many  of  the  capabilities,  and  problems,  of  personal  computers  within  the  broader  IT  enterprise.  However  mobile  systems  also  include  sensors,  actuators  and  HCI  design  issues  common  to  the  embedded  system  world.  Thus  they  straddle  the  worlds  of  IT  design  and  embedded  systems  design.      Embedded  systems  design,  and  consequently  embedded  systems  education,  should  address  this  new  reality.  Designers  and  educators  must  consider  the  IT  aspects  of  both  mobile  and  embedded  systems  with  their  concerns  about  security,  backup  and  integration  into  enterprise  computing  in  these  new  environments.  In  addition,  as  these  systems  grow  both  in  capability  and  popularity,  system  development  issues  for  these  non-­‐traditional  platforms  must  be  considered  in  the  light  of  computing  development  best  practices.  Thus  designers  need  to  adopt  a  new  systems  development  approach  incorporating  software  best  practices  appropriate  to  platform,  networking,  security,  HCI  design,  sensors  and  actuator  interfaces,  and  design  for  system  management.      Embedded  and  mobile  systems  designers  and  information  technology  designers  have  different  backgrounds  and  cultural  expectations.  Adopting  aspects  of  each  other’s  design  expectations  and  principles  requires  understanding  of  each  discipline.  This  paper  presents  and  discusses  the  collision  course  that  these  disciplines  are  on,  with  examples  of  systems  that  are  crossing  boundaries  between  the  disciplines.  The  design  principles  for  an  IT-­‐inclusive  systems  approach  for  embedded  and  mobile  systems  are  analyzed  and  compared  to  traditional  design  principles  for  these  separate  disciplines.  A  curriculum  addressing  courses  or  topics  necessary  to  for  educating  designers  is  proposed  and  justified.  

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