Firmware is the software that engineers use to control or communicate with electronics. It's typically embedded in a device or 'thing'. Think of it as the bridge from 'soft' software to 'hard' hardware.
How did we get here?
The Software Age brought computers to life. Software allowed us massive computing power and enabled a generation where people and ideas can be connected at lightning speed. Far removed from the time when finding information required trips to the library, searching through index card, textbooks, periodicals and microfilm.
In this new Information Age, firmware will be used to extract information from what is now concealed in the things that surround us everyday. So what do I mean? I am sitting in a chair, an old wooden chair. Now I'm sure with some fancy googling-about I could find the make and material. But what if I wanted to know how many times has this chair been sat on? How much weight has it bore all these years? Where are stress fractures hidden from the human eye forming? What is the present integrity of the wood? Can I project its lifespan 'based upon past use and present condition? Are there things I can do to postpone it's inevitable demise?
How about something more important than my chair. How about the house I live in? What's its usable remaining lifespan? I can't look it up online. I can't google it or spend time at the library to discover it. But now, just imagine a network of hundreds, possibly thousands of sensors built into the structure of my home. Now take those sensors, pass it through some firmware, transmit the data via WiFi to a router and connect it to the 'internet of things'. Pass it through some big data algorithms and there you have it!
This is just the next logical step in this age of information. Information that you can't find because it is 'stealthy'.
Hardware brought us software which brought us information which was out there yet required some effort. Firmware with intensely powerful microprocessors and software will bring us information about 'everything' including information you can't get from a visit to the local library.
Now get up off that chair, because the firmware in your wristband wearable is telling you to get some exercise...
About the author:
Bob Scaccia is President and CEO USA Firmware.