If the sensors detect a child running out in front of the car, there’s no point firing that data off to the cloud for processing. It has to be processed and acted on instantly and locally by the car itself.
There are many, many more examples where the edge devices (cars, traffic lights, fitness bracelets, microwaves, safety critical sensors on assembly lines … in fact very many of the billions of devices that will be connected to the internet of things over the coming years) will need the ability to process their own real-time data.
These edge computing devices will still connect to the cloud but the location of the processing and the data will vary according to need: in the cloud for asynchronous machine learning insights and improvements; at the edge for real time processing of real time data streams to determine real time actions.
Developing the hardware and software for these devices will require new ways of thinking. It’s not about big data, it’s about small, fast data. And I’m sure we’re going to see dramatic improvements in battery efficiency, data storage and processing capability of these intelligent edge computing devices.
The Internet of Things is actually going to become the Internet of Small Powerful Intelligent Things (although I doubt that acronym will catch on).
Most interestingly of all though, from a cultural and business perspective, is the innovation this edge computing will enable:
- The insurance industry will be able to offer better deals and new types of policies driven by the intelligence embedded in the insured assets.
- The health industry will be able to provide preventative care supported by intelligent wearables monitoring everything from activity to blood sugar levels.
- The entertainment industry will be able to deliver interactive content without those annoying buffers and whirling circles.
And, who knows, maybe edge computing will also help us to communicate more effectively with each other. Because spending time at the edge of our networks, as I have been discovering, is where the sparks of creativity really fly.
Like the musical ‘Bat Out of Hell’, it’s one experience I can thoroughly recommend!