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Status Quo

The Software Horror Picture Show

Jonas Seidemann
Feature image

For the past couple of weeks we at alpico have been keeping our eyes open for everything out of the ordinary regarding public facing embedded devices, like kiosks, infotainment systems or ATMs. We collected our observations and started to realize: Nothing here is out of the ordinary, what we are seeing is simply the status quo of embedded devices. We have seen tons of crashes, bluescreens and glitches. Most of them seemed funny to us (with some inconveniencing us as we had to go elsewhere), but they are detrimental for the businesses that operate these devices and rely on them working correctly.

The underlying problem is usually the same for all of them: The Operating System chosen for these devices was never meant to run on them. They are simply too complex for the simple tasks needed, like displaying a single picture. Additionally, fixing these devices usually requires a technician to be present, since updating or restarting is not possible without the right software. At alpico we are offering solutions, like Over-the-Air-Updates or Remote Debugging, that make situations like these a thing of the past!

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Crashiest of Them All?

Smart mirrors can be great, but not if the underlying device just shuts down, as documented by Bernhard in this restroom.

When Devices Just Give Up

When we went to a Rust Meetup a couple of weeks ago, we found this card loader in need of recovery. Let’s hope the technician is on the way!

Clock Synchronization

Radio clocks are supposed to be accurate, right? Well, not if the firmware throws a wrench in the works. Maybe it’s supposed to be a math test for the user and the correct answer is 23:05? According to Bernhard, he got up 10 minutes early because of this glitch.

Sorry, No Withdrawals Today

We were out of luck withdrawing some money from this ATM. Apparently it was stuck in an endless update loop.

We are Eating Crashes Today

The cafeteria of the TU Berlin is our go-to place for lunch. Usually we get to see the current menu on displays outside and inside the cafeteria. Unluckily for us, they run Windows and experience the usual crashes.

An Ad for Windows, Behind a Window?

This public facing display was supposed to show some great deals to anyone walking by. Maybe Windows wasn’t the right choice after all?

TU Berlin Keys Don’t Like to be Rushed

We were shocked to find out that our new keys from the TU Berlin simply break if you dare to take them out of the update key-hole too soon!
(Translation: Do not remove key during update. Prematurely removing the key will break it)

The Smart Urinal

We are unsure of why you would need an embedded device on a urinal, but we are sure that something is missing here.

Have You Also Seen Some Crashes?

We would love to extend our collection! If you have something to add, you can email us at Keep on the lookout in your daily lives and be sure to thing of alpico if you see some!

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