Distributed I/O systems are a key element in many industrial processing settings, distributed environmental controls for buildings of all sizes, vehicles large and small, scientific research settings like large telescopes and particle accelerators, and in laboratories with equipment connected to a central data collection and processing system. Multiple microcontrollers units (MCUs) provide the sensing and control to automate systems for improved efficiency, better data collection, and enhanced safety. Without MCUs, modern life as we know it could not exist.
There are multiple ways to connect an MCU-based device to a host computer system, ranging from industrial serial interface protocols like RS-485, CAN, or ProfiBus, to conventional Ethernet or wireless protocols. USB is also a possibility, but it seems to be largely confined to small-scale and consumer type applications. But does USB have what it takes to be used for applications other than just connecting a printer to your PC? Can it be used to collect data from an automated test system, or control the various components in an industrial process?