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Embedded Applications: Powering Modern Life and Business

Embedded applications—installed in mobile devices, smart thermostats, traffic lights, factory sensors, and much more—are increasingly common. These applications operate largely unnoticed in the background, powering critical functions that allow users to interact with technology more efficiently. In the process, these applications generate actionable data. This article examines what embedded applications are, the various systems they run, and how the data they generate creates opportunities for businesses.

What Are Embedded Applications?

Embedded applications are a type of software designed to perform a very specific set of functions within a larger system. They’re integrated into hardware devices, such as wearables, home appliances, security systems, and industrial machinery, and perform tasks required for these devices to operate. Although there are several different types of embedded applications, each with its own unique characteristics and use cases, they all share some common traits, including their small size, low power consumption, and high reliability. 

Primary Types of Embedded Applications

Embedded applications are an integral part of modern technology and are used in a wide range of consumer and business applications. Here are four primary types of embedded applications. 


Real-time embedded applications prioritize speed and reliability. They are designed to respond to inputs and provide outputs quickly when timing and accuracy are vital. Specific use cases include airport car airbags, flight control systems that process and transmit data gathered from onboard sensors, and certain types of medical devices such as pacemakers.


As the name implies, standalone embedded applications are designed to perform a specific task or function without the need for external input or control. Common examples include home appliances, digital watches, and certain types of sensors such as temperature measurement systems.


Networked embedded applications communicate with other systems or devices, through wired or wireless connections. This technology is critical to the functioning of internet-of-things (IoT) devices. Due to their flexibility and connectivity, networked applications are one of the most popular types of embedded applications. They’re commonly used in security systems, smart home devices, and industrial control systems. 

An important subset of networked applications, distributed embedded applications, consists of multiple embedded devices that are interconnected and work together to perform a task. Often geographically distributed, the interconnected devices that comprise a distributed embedded system are coordinated to achieve a common goal. Examples include industrial automation, traffic control, and weather monitoring systems.


Mobile embedded applications are typically found in small devices where portability has priority over power and processing capabilities. Smartphones, portable gaming devices, and digital cameras are common examples of technology that uses mobile embedded systems.

How Is Data from Embedded Applications Being Used?

Embedded applications generate massive quantities of actionable data. Here are four ways that data from embedded applications create value for today’s businesses.

Predictive maintenance in industrial

Predictive maintenance techniques use data analysis to determine the condition of in-service equipment, helping manufacturers and industrial businesses proactively schedule maintenance operations. Sensor data can be analyzed to spot anomalies that indicate when a piece of equipment needs to be serviced or is likely to fail.

Performance optimization in logistics

The performance data generated by embedded applications can be used to identify suboptimal performance in transportation and logistics. Networked sensors can provide real-time information on road conditions, weather, and the current location of delivery trucks, allowing transportation companies to optimize delivery routes to save fuel and increase the rate of on-time deliveries.

Quality control in manufacturing

Data from embedded applications has an important role to play in quality control processes, ensuring that products meet stringent quality standards. Data collected from machine-mounted sensors can be analyzed in real time, making it possible to detect and correct quality control issues before defective products are provided to customers.

User behavior analysis in healthcare

Usage data generated by embedded applications can be used to understand user health indicators and health-related behaviors. Fitness trackers are a popular example. Data from these connected devices can be used by physicians to identify and treat acute health conditions or manage the long-term health outcomes of individuals with chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension.

Capture the Full Value of Your Embedded Applications Data with Snowflake

The Snowflake Data Cloud helps organizations maximize the value of embedded applications data. Snowflake is a single, global platform equipped to mobilize your data, power essential workloads, and unlock seamless collaboration. And with Snowflake’s developer framework Snowpark, users gain a streamlined architecture that natively supports programming languages of choice, including Java, Scala, SQL, and Python. Snowpark brings teams together so that they can collaborate and build on one unified platform, providing developers with the same scalability, elasticity, security, and compliance benefits they’ve come to expect from Snowflake.