One of the buzzwords in the technology community over the last year has been “edge computing.” What exactly is edge computing? At it simplest, edge computing is a process of processing, capturing, and analyzing information right where it’s created. “Put another way,” edge computing brings together the data and the interactivity closest to that point of human interaction.
In the context of the broader definition outlined above, however, edge computing takes on many more subtle forms. For instance, what if you wanted to receive specific information from a server located on the edge of town, while your office was in the city? Or what if you were interested in accessing satellite imagery from space, but needed the photos to be received instantly by you from your home computer, so you couldn’t travel to see them? Examples like these show how quickly and how profoundly new technology can improve the quality of life for everyone.
Consider some examples of edge computing: Trifirio, a VoIP company based in San Francisco, has developed a technology called VoLTE (Voice over Internet Protocol) that makes long distance calls much more affordable. When considering how this particular innovation improves the quality of life for users, consider how much time and money it would save you if you could receive calls from any place in the world for the cost of making one long distance call. Imagine how you would respond to that! What about if you could have multiple phones at your disposal, allowing you to switch between them at the click of a button, or if you could use your computer as an assistant to take calls when you weren’t even there?
Perhaps the most obvious example of edge computing deals with self-driving vehicles. Most people living in suburban communities are so busy with everything else that they don’t spend much time thinking about how their autonomous vehicles are going to interact with the people in other locations. To that end, companies like nuTonomy are developing mapping applications that allow car owners to adjust the parameters of their autonomous vehicles to minimize the likelihood of collisions. In doing so, they are reducing the potential damage to property, human lives, and insurance premiums. This is edge computing at its best.
One other application of edge computing has to do with data centers. Data centers typically consist of many servers that run very hot, consuming large amounts of energy to keep them cool and provide backup power. One way to reduce the impact of these centers on the environment is to offload some of the processing to remote locations, which can be done via data centers or remotely hosted by Internet connection rather than via electrical power.
Of course, the application of edge computing has no end to it. As discussed previously, companies such as nuTonomy and Trifir are developing new autonomous driving technologies that will dramatically reduce the total number of cars on the road worldwide. The reductions in fuel consumption and emissions will help to fight climate change and reduce the environmental impact of cars on the world. In addition to helping the environment, such technologies may also prove to be invaluable to individual drivers.
Aside from providing data centers for instance, there are a few other uses for edge computing. For example, the military could use such technology to send information back and forth between operational headquarters and field headquarters. This is a very complicated process currently, but computer scientists have been working on ways to make such a system work for months now. It’s not clear when such a system would become available to the general public, but one such example already exists. Amazon Web Services, a subsidiary of Amazon, demonstrated some edge computing potential.
To learn more about what some companies are doing to improve the quality of their service, visit Clean Experience. They host an Edge computing forum where members can share their experiences and discuss the future of this technology. As well as sharing your own stories, you’ll be able to find out about some interesting uses for the technology you’re looking at. It’s definitely worth taking a look.