There's a great example of user assistance that goes beyond the normal frontiers of a printed manual or an online help system on the STC Montreal blog. A current model Pentax digital SLR camera has a dedicated help button on its casing, and it displays brief context-sensitive messages on its screen.
This is a very valuable real-world example of embedded help - it shows that user assistance really can go anywhere it’s needed. Most tech writers I know would be thrilled to help their employers or their clients move beyond printed manuals or online help systems. It’s the companies that need to see that these possibilities exist, and then give us the chance to work with the engineers and interface designers to deliver the embedded help that can benefit users.