Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re already living a life that – even a couple of decades ago – was solely the realm of sci-fi movies.
Don’t believe it?
Well, let’s look at how the future has become the present, and how edge computing is reaching into everyday life without you even realising.
What is ‘the edge’?
In the most simplistic terms, edge computing means bringing the sifting and sorting of data as close to the action as possible. We’re all familiar with the cloud – that place where all our data goes to be stored, meaning you can access your Google docs, Microsoft spreadsheets, photos, music, movies, etc wherever you might be in the world.
Of course, the cloud is still a physical place. Gargantuan data centres exist across the globe where all this info is stored. Every time that document saves or you add another song to your playlist, that data travels thousands of miles to be stored. Of course, it happens fast, allowing you to stream, select a photo, listen to a podcast, or whatever in real-time.
But sometimes – quite often, in fact – this data still doesn’t travel fast enough. This is becoming even more relevant as we take full advantage of smart devices. The amount of data these generate is enormous. The end result of this is that the bandwidth is getting somewhat congested.
Enter the edge. Small data centres much closer to the end user can act without delay in whatever way is deemed necessary.
So … how is this technology being integrated into your life? Unless you’re a tech geek who already knows this stuff, prepare to be amazed…
Six ways you’re using the edge without even knowing it
- It’s helping you shop. Retail is a major area where you’re taking advantage of edge computing. That order from Amazon? It’s most likely been picked and sorted by a robot running on edge computing. The company has already opened some cashier-free checkout stores. Again – edge power. Other companies also utilise the same, including AI, which identifies when stock needs to be refilled or even clean-ups to be carried out.
- It’s providing you with food. Got whimsical thoughts about farmers heading out in old land rovers to check whether the corn is ready for harvest? Or checking the ground’s in the right state to seed? What about waiting up all night for calving or lambing? Uh uh - not anymore. Drones are being deployed to spot pest issues… IoT devices swing from cow’s tails and alert when a birth is imminent… Soil sensors signal when the ground is getting too dry (or wet)… Combines use AI to aid the harvest… All this is thanks to edge computing and 5G devices that reach to even the most remote farms across the land.
- It’s helping keep you healthy. From internal medical devices to home monitors, through to AI-analysed MRI scanners, these items are becoming reality. And we haven’t even mentioned that smartwatch on your wrist that you already take for granted … healthcare has undergone a true revolution!
- It’s helping keep you safe. Law enforcement and agencies around the world are using sensors and analytics at the edge to identify and prevent crime. CCTV captures real-time images, using advanced image recognition that can send humans out to catch the bad guys in the act (or before, in many instances).
- It’s helping your leisure time. Every time you log onto your games console or device, you’re taking advantage of cell towers with edge capability to deliver the graphics you’ve become accustomed to. As 5G capability becomes more widespread, expect the experience to intensify. VR and – eventually, AR – will become the norm…
- It’s helping get you to work and back home. Bought a car within the last few years? That lane control and brake assist are all thanks to edge computing. Eventually, fully autonomous driving will become reality – and it’s not as far away as you might think.
These are just some examples of how edge computing is already integrated into everyday life. When you consider that your smartphone is also an edge device, you begin to realise how we’ve all become dependent on it without even realising. Technology is advancing at an ever-quickening rate – so expect more new and exciting things in the years to come.
Even if you’re a complete technophobe, one thing’s for sure. The future has already arrived…