Smart Systems Integration is a key enabling technology that bridges the gap between components and products. It thus guarantees the world market success of European technology companies in numerous and different application fields.

Smart Systems

Smart systems are self-sufficient intelligent technical (sub-)systems with advanced functionality that provide solutions to address grand challenges and risks for mankind in social, economic and environmental terms. They sense, diagnose, describe, qualify and manage a given situation in order to perceive complex circumstances, be predictive, and take autonomous decisions. Their operation is further enhanced by their ability to mutually address, identify and work in consort with each other. They are able to interface, interact and communicate with users, their environment and with other Smart Systems, and to manage their energy consumption. Smart Systems can be standalone, networked, or embedded into larger systems; they comprise heterogeneous devices combining data processing with sensing, actuating, energy scavenging, and communication and they excel in self-reliance and adaptability. What distinguishes smart systems from systems which are purely reactive is the knowledge base.

Figure: Building blocks of smart systems

Strategic Research Driven by Products and Applications

The connection between Smart Systems and the application sectors that they serve has been emphasized in the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) of the European Technology Platform on Smart Systems Integration (EPoSS). The first EPoSS SRA published in 2007, and any updates since were structured according to key application sectors for Smart Systems Integration: transport and mobility, health, manufacturing and factory automation, communications, energy, aerospace and environment. Roadmaps for medium and long-term research needs are provided not only in terms of technologies and functionalities, but also in terms of applications and markets.

Systems Development Focused on Functionalities

Smart Systems developments are ultimately driven by the application to user-level needs of individuals and society. They identify the key systems functionalities in the domains of sensing and actuation, interfaces, signal and cognitive processing, energy management and scavenging, communication and networking, and knowledge base to address those needs, some of which are general whereas others are specific for a particular application, and they marshal the most appropriate technologies in combinations to enable those functionalities. The progressive development of Smart Systems is characterised by their increasing autonomy through the twin effects of becoming increasingly self-sufficient in energy requirements and becoming less reliant upon external supervision and control. Advancements in the „smartness“ of a system are determined by the degree to which the key functionalities are implemented. The EPoSS community has defined the evolution of smart systems as follows: 1st Generation Smart Systems integrate sensing and or actuation as well as signal processing to enable actions, 2nd Generation Smart Systems are built on multifunctional perception, are predictive and adaptive, and 3rd Generation Smart Systems perform human-like perception and action and generate energy. These generations of smart systems develop at different speed depending on the functionality considered.

Timeline of Implementation of Priority Topics in ECSEL RIAPs 2014-20






Building blocks for the integration and interaction   of smart systems with their environment: sensors and sensor systems,   (power) electronics, actuators, wireless communication systems, as well as   materials and methods for physical integration ensuring reliability and   robustness

Gen 1/2 sensing and actuation, communication and networking

Power train control for EVs, environment recognition for robots, body   area networks for health monitoring


Components and integration concepts for smart energy   and thermal management: control, storage, transfer, generation,   harvesting of energy, and supporting communication solutions

Gen 1/2 energy manage-ment and scavenging, communication and   networking

Battery management, smart grids, renewable energy sources


Solutions and methods for automation and operation   of smart systems in complex environments: sensor fusion, cognitive   cooperation, robust and reliable materials and components, physics of failure

Gen 2 and partly 3 signal and cognitive processing,
  Gen 1/2 interfaces

Automated vehicles and manufacturing processes, environment   recognition


Integration methods and interfaces for smart systems   operating under harsh and complex conditions: compatibility with organic,   chemical, biological, neural systems

Gen 2/3 interfaces

Neuro plug, micro needles, artificial organs, smart fluids,   environmental monitoring


Advanced smart systems for autonomous operation   based on building blocks linked to knowledge base

Gen 3 sensing and actuation, communication and networking, Gen 2   signal and cognitive pro-cessing, knowledge base  

Autonomous transportation systems, artificial organs, robots


Smart systems for complete user interaction matching   requirements of augmented reality, data fusion

All of the above as well as Gen 3 interfaces

Prosthetics, implants, artificial eyes,  human-machine interfaces


Breakthroughs in the reduction of impact of smart   systems on materials use, waste production, energy consumption, and cost;   self-healing capabilities

Gen 3 of all functionalities

Visionary products in transportation, health etc.