Embedded systems as a specific market and technology emerged shortly after the invention of the microprocessor and microcontroller and before the emergence of the PC. Historically the market has matured rapidly to the present day, the common factor being a general increase in the available processing power and corresponding decrease in the physical size of the system required to carry out a specific task. Performance has increased dramatically since those early days and the development of pervasive mobile networks has contributed to the growth of the market by facilitating the use of "Machine-to-Machine" (M2M) wireless communications to allow remote monitoring and management.
M2M systems use network resources to communicate with remote application infrastructure for the purposes of monitoring and control, either of the device itself, or the surrounding environment. Recent sensor developments have meant that low power systems are capable of continuously monitoring their environment while permitting battery life of up to ten years or even more. This M2M market has now expanded to fuel a new family of embedded systems where smart (intelligent) devices are connected together to interact with each other and their environment. This has become known as the Internet of Things (IoT) and is one of the most talked about trends of recent years.