There are many types of computers that play varying roles in our daily lives. These types of computers come in all shapes and sizes and have varying purposes, some are giant heavy machines while others are small wearable ones. There are many special purpose-built computers that many people don’t even realize are impacting their daily lives in differing ways.
Some people think of our smartphones as just phones, but they are in fact small computers and, over the years, their capabilities have far surpassed that of general phones to the point where they can do much the same as a standard computer or laptop.
Smartphones now play a huge role in people’s daily lives.
Embedded computers have also been incorporated into many aspects of our lives.
Embedded computers are computers that are built and programmed to do a single purpose and are then fitted into a suitable enclosure designed to help with that purpose. They typically don’t look anything like general purpose computers, often being inside plain looking containers designed to protect them from a multitude of things such as temperature changes, vibration, and water.
They have been embedded into a wide variety of things we use on a daily basis, including:
- Washing machines
- Digital cameras
- MP3 players
- Medical equipment
Embedded computers are frequently built into other larger things, often making up a small part of something bigger, or providing some specific functionality. Instead of a complex operating system, the series of commands or code that makes up the core of an embedded computer is usually known as firmware. This firmware is often stored in flash memory chips or read-only memory. (ROM)
Wearable computers are becoming increasingly popular and are any computer that can be worn on the body, under, or over the top of clothing. Some wearables fall into the category of general purpose computer, having multiple uses, but are usually very small in size with fewer resources and less computing power. Other wearables fall into the category of embedded systems, these are wearables that have been built into something for a specific purpose only, such as tracking heart rate, etc.
Some examples of wearable are:
- Fitness trackers
- Heart rate monitors
- Smart watches
- Smart glasses
- Welding helmets
- Virtual reality headsets