10 Everyday Uses of Microprocessors


In 2016, microprocessors have infiltrated the American adult’s daily life through a variety of technologies. According to surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2015, 9 out of 10 American adults (92%) own a mobile phone of some kind, 68% specifically own a smartphone, and 73% own a computer. Young adults (ages 18-29) best those percentages: 98% own a cell phone, 86% own specifically a smartphone, and 78% own a computer.

The central processing unit (CPU) is a microprocessor with millions of transistors as small as 45 nanometers wide, responsible for executing pre-programmed instructions. They are the brains behind phones, laptops, smartphones, and the market is saturated with these devices.

However, complete American adult technological saturation is found through the use of items and tools most people don’t realize implement microprocessors. For example, the coffee maker consistently draws a precise volume of water at an exact temperature to brew coffee by its microprocessor’s design.

The Microprocessor

A central processing unit (CPU) is the component in a computer that executes instructions. The early computers took up large amounts of space due to the methods (integrated circuits, vacuum tubes, transistors, etc.) used to achieve better processing. As the technology grew, the CPU’s became smaller and in 1971, the microprocessor was born. Intel created the first microprocessor called the Intel 4004.

A microprocessor is an integrated circuit containing all functions of a central processing unit of a computer on a “wafer” comprised of silicon. The first microprocessor could only add and subtract, but those functions were occurring on one chip, not collections of chips. CPU and microprocessor are considered synonymous.

A microprocessor contains transistors connected by extremely fine copper wires. As production has advanced, so has the number of transistors included on one chip. In 1965, Gordon Moore observed that the number of transistors per microprocessor would double every year. While this was ambitious, he revised his observation in 1975 to every two years. “Moore’s Law” became a guiding principal in the industry.

Microprocessors are multi-purpose, programmable, clock-driven, numbers based, electronic devices. They accept binary data input, process it according to instructions, execute, and provide results as an output.

10 Ways our Society use Microprocessors

  1. Coffee Makers

  2. As previously stated, a coffee maker’s microprocessor executes its programming to consistently and correctly deliver a precise volume of water at an exact temperature perfect for brewing coffee.

  3. Remote controls

  4. The first TV remote controls used a beam of light to conduct basic functions: TV on/off, change channels, and mute. Microprocessors enhance the remote control with a multitude of pre-programmed options such as: sleep timer, last/previous, TV settings, guide, etc. Remote controls are also designed to work with a specific TV, but microprocessors have made the universal remote possible.

  5. Blenders

  6. Microprocessors simplify the blending process. With manual controls, the user has to start, stop, and select the blending speed in accordance with their desires. With a microprocessor-controlled blender, or smart blender, you select one option for a specific cycle. The cycles vary in timing, power, blade rotation, and quantity dependent on the user’s needs.

  7. Dishwashers

  8. Modern dishwashers use microprocessors to increase their functionality. An increased number of options has led to specific types of run cycles. Options including the mixture of soap and water, water distribution, cleaning intensity, timing, and drying temperature.

  9. Watches

  10. Microprocessors enhanced the wristwatch from keeping time to a multi-functional machine. Microprocessor-based watches can sync with smartphones, download applications, read GPS coordinates, act as an alarm clock or timer, and sense temperature. Further, they add to the Millennial’s culture of health by tracking exercise, diet, and cardiovascular health.

  11. Central Heating System

  12. The microprocessor in a central heating system interprets the measurements taken from the temperature sensors. Heating has become more exact through the constant regulation of climate control. Microprocessors have increased efficiency by measuring and minimizing energy output.

  13. Security Systems

  14. Security systems run throughout the house via a myriad of systems (motion sensors, locks, cameras, alarms) to protect from home invasion. The microprocessor at the central hub consistently processes the data being sent and waits for an “emergency” code. Security can be linked and monitored by computer or smartphone, assuring optimum safety.

  15. Microwaves

  16. Sophisticated microprocessors expand the microwaves daily use. Now, they reheat according to food, weight, and desired temperature. Pre-programmed options remove the guesswork for defrosting and heating times. Microprocessors offer temperature consistency and remove hot spots.

  17. Car remote

  18. People are accustomed to unlocking and locking their vehicles through the use of a car remote. The car remote functions through a microprocessor allowing it to: locate, lock from a distance, open the trunk, and start the vehicle. High-end cars are now offering an option to connect directly to a smartphone, eliminating the need for a car remote and consolidating functions to one device.

  19. Motorcycle Helmets

  20. Using an array of cameras, sensors, and microprocessors, helmets can communicate with the motorcycle to create an innovative heads-up display (HUD) in the visor. The Skully AR-1 telemetry helmet has been binding technology with safety to minimize accidents.

Microprocessors are getting smaller, but their effects on life are getting bigger. People can find them in use throughout their day, creating a network of communication and connecting previously unrelated devices. Microprocessors can be connected to smartphones, allowing people to control any device they want at their comfort and leisure.

Learn More

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