"The use of embedded Linux is growing in the industrial
automation industry, making the control and monitoring of machinery
no longer the exclusive domain of proprietary systems. Also driving
this growth is the need to gather information, often on the fly,
from an ever increasing number of Ethernet- and Internet-aware
Like the proprietary systems traditionally used for industrial
automation, Linux-based systems can monitor and control any
activity that they can sense and respond to. The programming logic
behind an application that monitors power usage and turns off
unneeded loads is obvious, but the methods of sensing the current
flow and throwing the cut-off switch are not.
The industrial automation industry developed the "I/O unit" to
provide a method through which computers may acquire or issue
electrical commands. These electrical responses may emanate from
sensors (electronic devices that measure the physical world) and be
driven to effectors (devices that drive changes in our physical
world). In short, the I/O unit's role provides a conversion between
the computer and the physical world."
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