ESC 2012 - Boston Part 1

-September 10, 2012

The 2012 Embedded Systems Conference (East) in Boston is just a week away! If you are an embedded geek like me this is the second most exciting time of the year!! (The first being ESC-West.) The embedded systems conference is a great opportunity for engineers to freshen up on the latest and greatest techniques, network with seasoned engineers and of course get their hands dirty and play with some of the newest tools that are hitting the market.

The conference is broken up into six sub conferences; Embedded Systems Conference, Design Med, Sensors in Design, The Expo, LEDs and Android. Each conference has a plethora of sessions that can keep an engineer more than busy for week. Overall there are more than 21 different session tracks ranging from Analog & Mixed Signal Design, Low-Power Design and Real-Time Systems to Smart Lighting and Communication Networks. There are over 100 different speakers from around the globe speaking at the three and a half day conference.

The first day of the conference consists of a number of half and full day boot camp style sessions designed to dive into the nitty gritty details of a number of particular topics. There are often sessions that enlighten engineers on the behavior of C and C++ and usually at least one that allows each camp to debate why one language is better than the other (although I don’t remember there ever being a clear and concise winner). There are also sessions that cover the project management side of embedded systems and what processes should be followed to ensure bug free development. A quick glance at the schedule reveals that a course on “Test Driven Development” and using “UML for C based systems” are also being offered.

The remainders of the week's sessions are shot-gun style, usually between an hour and an hour and a half long. During these sessions, high level details are quickly explored before diving into the depths of a topic. Each presenter has written a paper that attendees can later reference to dig deeper on topics of interest. Even the presentation itself is available. Attendees also have the opportunity to ask questions and network with the speakers. Check out the available sessions for everything that is available.

At this year’s conference, I have been given the opportunity to speak about two of my favorite topics in embedded system design; Boot-loader Design for MCU’s and Developing Re-usable Device Drivers for MCU’s. These topics are hardly new to the embedded system industry but over the last few years as development schedules have shrunken and the number of features in products has exploded, these topics have become a cornerstone for speeding up the design cycle and maintaining a highly tested code base.

One of the highlights of the conference is of course the conference expo! Starting the second day of the conference, companies offering the latest development tools and reference designs are set up in one location. This allows an engineer to mosey around and get demonstrations of new technologies, speak with the developers and get questions answered. More than once I’ve discovered solutions to problems I was working on!

If you’ll be attending the conference I hope to see you there. If you won’t be able to make it to this year’s conference I’ll be tweeting from the conference floor with updates and observations! Feel free to follow @Jacob_Beningo on twitter and stay connected with everything that is happening at the conference. The next few posts will be a conference review before returning to the topic of timers and device driver design.

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