The edge is here to stay. The next generation of data processing is growing from strength to strength – reaching $274 billion in value by 2025 – with major benefits including better data management and security, lower connectivity costs, and reliable, uninterrupted connection. Edge computing, in my mind, is the logical successor to cloud computing, and it’s especially exciting to consider the implications for the Internet of Things (IoT).
As devices more often process data at the edge rather than in the cloud, experts believe the evolution will pave the way for increased artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics. The one-two punch of smarter devices with faster edge connections looks set to change our interactions with devices entirely. Consider, for example, door locks with instant facial recognition or smart induction stoves that automatically change cooking temperature. Increasingly, more autonomous devices will be able to make decisions on the behalf of users.
Let’s look at how the great cloud to edge migration powers the smart homes of tomorrow.
Smarter Devices, Smarter Homes
The concept of smart homes has always captured the popular imagination. However, it might not be the stuff of science fiction for much longer. Devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home have grown rapidly in just a few short years and consumers are becoming more accustomed to smart devices within the modern home.
Smart home or home automation is the process of automatically controlling different appliances or devices and programing them to replace several human interactions for handling essential functions. The connected sensors and devices are operated via IoT supported platforms, providing connectivity and control to them worldwide.
By 2025, IDC estimates that there will be more than 55 billion connected devices, with 75% of them connected to an IoT platform. And more of these devices are finding their way into the home. However, with more devices comes more data. IDC estimates that connected IoT devices will soon generate up to 73 zettabytes of data. Today’s centralized cloud networks may become overloaded with traffic due to such a spike in data. Therefore, edge computing’s distributed IT architecture may help to combat the impending data rush by transferring information to the network periphery.
In addition to storage benefits, smarter devices are also driving this migration from cloud to edge. Consider that devices are more often loaded with AI-optimized chipsets. These chips are smaller, more economical and less power-consuming. As a result, they enable devices to handle far more processes internally rather than externally, reducing the need to offload unnecessary processes to the cloud.
Closer to the Edge
There are several benefits that edge processing offers smart home devices. First, let’s look at the important issue of congestion. As touched upon, edge computing will help the wide-area network handle the extra load. Therefore, users will be able to save time and money by reducing the amount of bandwidth. In the age of mobile computing and IoT, this is a big obstacle. Edge devices analyze, filter and compress data locally rather than overload the network with relatively irrelevant raw data.
Second, consider the latency benefits of such a shift. Because of the physical proximity, the time-to-action is reduced when data processing takes place locally rather than at a remote data center or cloud. IoT and mobile endpoints can respond to important information in near real-time since data processing and storage will take place at or near edge devices. This is vital in case of an emergency, like a home alarm system triggering an automatic call for help in case of fire.
Third, we mustn’t overlook security. Edge computing’s higher speed and lower latency mean there’s less downtime and disruption, leaving fewer opportunities to compromise data in transit. Moreover, platforms which assist edge computing communication are maturing.
These multiple benefits – backed by smarter and faster devices – look set to transform tomorrow’s smart home. For example, connected security cameras could stream ultra high definition video at lower costs. Further, loaded with AI, such cameras could identify people and count passing traffic. Likewise, smart home assistants could also perform more complex tasks and calculations, becoming more helpful.
The Best Is Yet to Come
We’re truly living in the golden age of technology. In my view, edge devices packed with AI and advanced analytics will usher in capabilities unlike we’ve seen inside the home. These devices are poised to make life more convenient, efficient and digitally secure.
It must be said that cloud computing is a remarkable technology that has enabled the IoT to get to this point. But edge computing builds on it and brings the sector to new heights. These improvements will help smart home enthusiasts use their devices to their full potential.
Edge computing is still in its early stages, but it’s sure to be widespread before long. When it becomes the standard, the smart homes of tomorrow will be more useful and intuitive than ever.
About the author: Carsten Rhod Gregersen is the CEO and Founder of Nabto, the company providing a peer-to-peer (P2P) based platform to IoT devices. Carsten counts almost two decades of experience leading software and innovation companies with an aim to create technology that makes the world a better place – one line of code at a time.
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