The problem: Customer lock-in

Proprietary embedded software is tailor-made, and is only configurable to the extent foreseen by the OEM. That embedded software may malevolently pollute the environment (as it happened in the Diesel emissions scandal), or induce safety- or security-relevant problems. For instance, proprietary embedded power managment software has been traced to be the root of unintended and partly dangerous malfunctionings of laptops, smart phones, smart watches, pacemakers, and pedelecs.

Generally speaking, the embedded software induces that the user looses control and understanding of the product owned. The customer gets locked out of it, but locked-in on the OEM or unit-supplier for products, maintenance and services.

The core of this lock-in is the proprietary embedded software. In a world where embedded software is perfectly free of bugs and highly customisable by the user, this problem is non-existent. Unfortunately, our world is different. In particular, there are good reasons for assuming that embedded software shipped with any modern product is not perfect at shipping time. Is this the price to pay for innovation? Is open source embedded software a way out?

Read on to learn about the way forward.