Lords Of Tech

Embedded World Conference 2020

Embedded World is a conference and exposition held annually in Nuremberg, Germany in late February or early March. As its name suggests, it covers various topics related to embedded systems. Entry is not free, visiting talks requires additional fees.

I visited it in February 2020 with several colleagues as a part of our work.

Topics covered

The conference had several parallel sessions, each focusing on a certain area. Here are some of the topics:

  • Safe coding practices
  • Software development
  • Wired communication between devices
  • Wireless communication between devices (bluetooth, wifi, GSM)
  • Synchronisation between threads and processes
  • Automation
  • Car systems
  • Internet of Things
  • Functional Safety
  • Embedded OS
  • Real time operating systems
  • Dealing with analog signal
  • Blockchain
  • Security
  • Powering devices
  • Computer vision
  • AI

Most programming-related stuff was done in C or C++. There was one lecture about Rust, but it was mostly a thought whether to use it instead of C++ or not. Other programming languages were mentioned, but I haven’t noticed any lectures where they were used in some way.

A talk about writing C code while minimising chance of mistake

Quality of content

The talks were given by various authorities in the respective areas. For example, a talk about avoiding errors in C++ were given by Peter Sommerlad, a member of the C++ committee. A talk about Bluetooth was given by an engineer from a company developing Bluetooth hardware (and no, he wasn’t advertising). I have not found any factual errors in parts I knew (of course, that only means they know their stuff better than me as expected and don’t go into unfamiliar areas). Some of them had a pretty good sense of humour.

A lecture by Peter Sommerlad

Of course, I can’t say I always agreed with the all speakers’ opinions. But the speakers didn’t agree with each other’s opinions either.

The talks mostly didn’t focus on news, their aim was often didactic, presenting various details that might potentially come handy if one uses such a technology. This means that visiting the conference for a second time or third time isn’t as useful.

Many speakers were Germans and all of them spoke English good enough to be easy to understand. Not all speakers were able to show up, often because of coronavirus-related travel bans.

Some talks (called classes) were much longer and were more specified at instructing the attendees on specific topics. I visited one about C++ and we were given a choice between various subjects. I voted for different subjects than the majority, but nevertheless it was very interesting and useful. To visit these, one had to pay extra (for every specific one).

Exhibition

The conference was paired with an exhibition. The exhibited technologies were mostly, displays, UI software and machine vision, but there was something of almost any area of embedded systems, including some usually PC-specific technologies that looked somewhat shoehorned into the embedded world. This, of course, included a lot of cool gadgets displayed for anyone to play with.

However, most of those were completely out of the area of my work, hobbies or future project ideas, so I didn’t spend more than a couple of hours there.

Placement

The conference wasn’t cheap and it was apparent. The conference and exposition took place in an exposition area clearly designed to hold such conferences. Food was provided, rooms were large enough, speakers had microphones and could be heard.

It took place in the building on left and some more buildings behind

Of course, nothing is perfect and neither was this conference. The check-in was messy, I was given a name tag that enabled me to visit different lectures than I was expected to visit. The only lunch available was pasta or salad (I had to go to a local restaurant to get some bratwurst with sauerkraut). Power sockets were scarce and difficult to locate. Lectures were given using Windows OS that crashed in mid-lecture once.

No, I had to go to a local tavern to get some local N├╝rnberger Bratwurst with sauerkraut.

The part of Nuremberg where it took place looked quite good, with some modern buildings surrounding a few lakes. There was also a huge compound once used by the Nazi party for their massive meetings. It looked monumental, but at the same time, it’s hard to admire a something used by Nazis to spread their genocidal propaganda.

This was once meant to be a Nazi Congress Hall. It was never finished. Now it’s used for far less ceremonious purposes, probably as a warehouse.

Many locals were bad at English and I needed to speak German at times (and I am fairly bad it at).

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