Microcontrollers are everywhere. Essentially tiny computers that are embedded in machines, they supervise a rapidly-expanding universe of functions. In washing machines, for instance, they may access information embedded in electronic tags in clothing labels, allowing them to know whether items are wash-and-wear or wool. Other sensors may tell them how soiled the items are. They may also control water valves, and ensure that the door is securely closed.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-02-network.html#jCp