tniles: I like all your comments and questions. You bring up excellent points. Regarding the "flexible electronics," you mentioned that one buys the electronics once then later buys apps. In that example, the hw is not flexible; you don't buy hw "apps." It's sw that is flexible. But then looking from the side of the app producer, they have to write their app to work on the many different versions of hw out there. In this case, then yes, run-time switching is needed.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.