Top trends for the Embedded Device market in 2021

In its 2021 strategic technology trends, Gartner identified 3 major categories to have the biggest impacts: People Centricity; Location Independence and Resilient Delivery. The embedded device segment, of course, has unique properties but fits into these overall categories. Considering the restrictions and implied requirements brought on by Covid-19 and looking forward to large scale vaccination deployment in 2021, we believe that two major trends and focus areas stand out in 2021 for the embedded device segment.

1) Secure device deployment and operation
2) Autonomy everywhere

Secure Device Deployment and Operation

Covid realities and restrictions, combined with cost reduction and the increasing availability of both local and wide-area connectivity options for device manufacturers, have resulted in a rapid acceleration in device connectivity. Hackers and malicious actors continue their assault on exposing weaknesses in embedded devices for various purposes. Product developers need to accelerate their focus on security-related concerns. 

The road to secure devices starts with IT infrastructure and the SW development process. Developing software for connected devices in and by itself represents significant threat vectors that are often overlooked or are under-invested. Organizations with ISO9001 and ISO27001 accreditation help ensure the security of systems and infrastructure and can focus heavily on delivering HW and SW solutions that align with the principles of secure connected devices.

Secure deployment and operation of connected devices spans the entire product lifecycle from concept development to retirement. It covers important functional areas including secure device provisioning, secure boot and updates, encryption of data at rest and in motion, and enforced isolation of security related functionality into a small, isolated trusted computing base. New vulnerabilities will continue to emerge and impact new and existing software, but, a secure foundation will put the device manufacturer in the best position to address emerging threats.

Autonomy Everywhere

Autonomy everywhere implies an acceleration of the existing trends impacting both the development process and device operation. Pandemic restrictions have accelerated remote development covering all phases of the HW / SW lifecycle. Physical co-location cannot be assumed, and as much remote work as is possible needs to be accommodated in order to maintain productivity. Adoption of agile development methodologies have accelerated and Agile teams have and are being trained to adapt to the scenarios brought on by the pandemic. Development and testing must largely be done remotely, so reliance on local physical hardware must be minimized unless it can be widely distributed (and rapidly repaired/replaced). Remote HW access, device and processor level simulations, and emerging technologies like Digital Twins, can all help to improve integration and testing efficiency. Adoption of CI/CD and DevOps (including DevSecOps) methodologies in device development will accelerate due to both existing trends and the effects of the pandemic.

In device operation, we expect a rapid acceleration of the trend where devices connect (either directly or indirectly) to the cloud and have access to cloud-based compute and storage to enable customer-centric features and use cases. Device and fleet management will increase as device operators can monitor devices in operation and take actions over a large range of decision vectors. Even as cloud resources are a companion to local device operation, we can also expect a rapid expansion of intelligent edge processing in cases where the use of cloud-based resources introduce unacceptable latency, high costs, or where wide-area connectivity is intermittent.


The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to accelerate demands in the embedded device market in areas including; 1) Patient Monitoring; 2) Monitoring employee safe distancing; 3) Vaccination administration tracking; and more. These and related device types align well with our 2021 themes for device security and autonomy.

2021 promises to be a year of rapid change in the embedded device market. We at Mistral stand ready to help you meet and exceed your 2021 goals.