Embedded Systems Conference Boston 2019: The Remaining Talks

Embedded Systems Conference

Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston, MA

May 15-16, 2019

I conclude my blog post trilogy about Boston’s 2019 Embedded Systems Conference with coverage of the remaining ESC talks. You can peruse my overview article and my coverage of the robotics talks by following the hotlinks. I made the rounds talking to ESC booth vendors, as well as several vendors showcasing at the collocated BIOMEDevice and Design & Manufacturing New England conferences.

In addition to the three robotics talks featured in yesterday’s article, I was treated to presentations about IoT security, 5G, and cloud-to-edge migration, plus the BIOMEDevice keynote talk.

“How to Secure Your IoT Project”

My first presentation was that of IAR Systems’ Shawn Prestridge, “How to Secure Your IoT Project.” He talked about attack vectors, authentication problems, and hardware options; Root of Trust and Chain of Trust; and did a deep-dive into how to secure devices via a secure workflow.

“Fireside Chat: Discussing Medtech 4.0 and the Future of Care”

Scott Huennekens delivered the BIOMEDevice keynote on Wednesday, “Fireside Chat: Discussing Medtech 4.0 and the Future of Care.” Dubbing himself a forward-looking futurist but also a pragmatics, Huennekens noted that in MedTech 3.0, it’s not just the products, but the products are connected, and it’s about the data. A key point of the presentation was the promotion of open architecture. Per Huennekens, open architecture creates opportunity, closed platforms in medtech are slowing development and growth, and open architectures will improve patient access and outcomes.

Digital surgery and robotic surgery were addressed, as was the importance of diversity of culture and people.

“Wrapping Your Head Around 5G: A Primer for the Enterprise Community”

My telecom background and mid-2000s coverage of the millimeter wave and microwave carrier market is the foundation of my strong interest in 5G, so I was looking forward to this presentation by Verizon’s Joshua Ness and Taru Jain, “Wrapping Your Head Around 5G: A Primer for the Enterprise Community.”

Ness touched upon the history of wireless standards (1G through 5G), the difference in 5G capabilities vs. 4G, and some of what 5G will usher into the future by enabling the growth of edge computing.

Jain noted that 5G will driving the fourth industrial revolution. She noted that the four pillars of 5G are fiber, spectrum, software-defined networks, and multi-access edge compute. And she discussed use cases in retail, manufacturing, and healthcare.

And, worth noting since it was at the Embedded Systems Conference, Ness pointed out that Verizon had just, the day of the presentation, rolled out a narrowband IoT network.

In all, a great introduction to 5G for those unfamiliar with it, and a solid recap for those of us already familiar with the technology.

“How to Migrate Intelligence from the Cloud to Embedded Devices at the Edge”

Arm’s Chris Shore went into great depth about “How to Migrate Intelligence from the Cloud to Embedded Devices at the Edge.”

On the topic of security, Shore noted that security cannot be optional, a recurring theme over the course of the last three Embedded Systems Conferences I attended. He touched upon four types of attacks: communication attacks, lifecycle attacks, physical attacks, and software attacks. He discussed software isolation. And he talked about Arm’s Platform Security Architecture.

On the topic of functional safety, Shore gave examples of the need across the industries of automotive (autonomous driving), industrial (factory automation), healthcare (robotic surgery), transportation (train control systems), avionics (flight systems), and consumer (domestic robots). He talks about the need for security as necessary (but not sufficient) for safety. He touched upon types of fault – random faults vs. systematic faults. And he dove into digital signal processing.

Shore closed his presentation with this remark: “Hope that inspires you to create highly-compute capable, safe, secure edge devices on the IoT.”


As always, the Embedded Systems Conference provided an educational, interesting glimpse into the current and future states of the IoT industry. It’s a shame the ESC is ending its run in Boston; it was an event I always circled on my calendar. As noted in my ESC overview article, the Embedded Systems Conference has partnered with the Drive World Conference & Expo for its next incarnation, in Santa Clara, CA in August – August 27-29, 2019.

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