The political toll on engineering

September 06, 2019 //By William G. Wong
Hardware and software design aren’t easy, but those jobs become more difficult when taking into account the changing landscape of customer capability, tariffs, and supply chains.

Designing hardware and software can often turn into arduous tasks. Though new tools, platforms, and technologies have made the jobs easier, connectivity trends like the Internet of Things (IoT) have pushed communication and security to the forefront, adding to the complexity of already complex systems. Other technologies such as machine learning influence how systems are designed as well.

Incorporating all of these new technologies and issues might keep hardware and software manageable, but these days they’re not the only things to worry about. Political effects are having major impact on how systems are developed, designed, and sold. Below are just some of the issues cropping up.

Let’s start with some simple issues like connectivity and 5G, which are always part of the IoT discussion. Most high-speed wireless technologies like 4G/LTE and 5G require infrastructure that’s not very extensive outside of travel corridors and larger cities. Rural areas often lack high-speed connectivity options that would render sales and deployment of embedded systems requiring this type of connectivity impractical. Even wired infrastructure has been limited in these areas as well.

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