Information is coursing through millions of devices globally, and edge computing is making its delivery more efficient. Edge computing systems are becoming more common, thanks to the marked increase in the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and apps that require real-time processing power.
But what exactly is edge computing and how can your business benefit from it? Let’s take a closer look.
What is edge computing?
Edge computing is the practice of capturing, processing, and analyzing data near the location where it was created.
Traditionally, all data generated by IoT devices are relayed back to a centralized network server through cloud computing. Once the information is processed, further instructions will be sent back to IoT devices.
The problem with this setup, however, is that it takes time for data to travel back and forth, which could have serious consequences for time-sensitive IoT machines like smart cars. These vehicles gather data from their surroundings and react to what they observe when necessary.
For instance, if a jogger is about to cross paths with a smart vehicle, that vehicle may respond by slowing down or stopping to prevent itself from colliding with that jogger. That vehicle's reaction time is highly reliant on the instructions coming from the central server. The slightest delay in data processing could be a matter of life and death.
Edge computing technology solves this problem by installing an edge server between the IoT gadget and the central server. This redirects crucial data processing to edge servers, which are physically nearer to users, allowing for faster data processing and response times.
What are the uses of edge computing in businesses?
Edge computing has many different applications in various industries, including:
Edge technology could be deployed in image-based diagnostics to speed up the detection of health issues. It could also power wearables that can constantly track patient vitals and transmit data for ongoing evaluation and treatment.
What’s more, edge computing enables doctors to provide healthcare services to remote areas without strong internet connectivity and skilled healthcare professionals. Lastly, the technology helps protect sensitive and highly regulated patient data from cyberthreats by storing information locally.
Edge-powered in-store digital signs and interactive kiosks can help retailers get a better understanding of customers' expectations and behaviors. Additionally, smart cameras and sensors coupled with AI analytics technology can detect touchless gestures and inform business owners of the effectiveness of an advertising display.
Retailers can also use edge computing to gather and analyze customers’ purchasing history data. This enables retail businesses to tailor their advertising and marketing efforts and recommend new products based on consumers' tastes.
Finally, through the use of IoT-based security devices, retailers can enjoy enhanced biometric security that permits access to staff while preventing unauthorized entry.
Edge computing can be used to perform tasks that are potentially dangerous to workers. For instance, car manufacturer Audi uses the technology to automate weld inspections, protecting their workers from noxious fumes produced during welding, as well as other health risks. Automation has also sped up the company’s task completion and reduced labor costs by up to 50%.
Additionally, edge computing enables real-time processing of raw data generated by machines, significantly improving predictive maintenance and quality control. In combination with machine learning, it can also be used to collect, aggregate, and filter information from multiple machines and processes, allowing manufacturers to adjust the manufacturing process in real time. By ensuring precise monitoring, edge computing reduces human error and helps makers overcome manufacturing limitations.
The challenges with edge computing
Edge computing does have a few drawbacks. For one, it still cannot match the massive and scalable amounts of processing power and capacity that cloud computing offers. Edge computing also heavily relies on high-speed internet connectivity. Although the rollout of 5G networks is gathering pace, it will still take some time for 5G to become widely available to businesses.
Despite these issues, however, one thing is clear: the increased prevalence of devices that require local data processing and storage capabilities will drive edge computing technology forward.
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