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How the Internet of Things (IoT) Can Shape Edge Computing

By: Ernest Sampera on January 22, 2021

If you grew up watching The Jetsons, you grew up waiting for a future that promised amazing technology. These days, we are a bit closer. While we don’t have flying cars, smart homes give us lights that come on when we get home and adjust to the daylight, voice commands that control our environment from climate control to music, thermostats that warn of temperature and humidity issues, and appliances that keep track of our groceries, shopping lists, and can even send out for delivery.

These types of smart devices will only continue to proliferate, with technology doing more for us as it learns from us. This is, in part, the Internet of Things.

Quick Links

What is IoTs?

The Internet of Things, IoTs, for short, is a network of electronic devices equipped with sensors and programmed to be capable of storing, sending, and receiving data with either other devices or with the internet. The devices are then capable of responding to patterns of behavior and are, often, programmed to understand voice commands.

Common Types of IoT Devices

common types of iot devices

Many of us likely already have IoTs devices in our homes. As noted, they include everything from home systems to appliances and have become common enough in our everyday lives that we may not even recognize the integration.

Devices Attached to Retailers And Service Providers

These were among the first items to hit the market. Examples of this include Amazon’s Alexa, Echo, and Dash devices which enable consumers to not only order by voice command or touch of a button, but can also have questions answered or get information from the internet.

Security Systems, Alarms, and doorbell cams

Ten years ago or more, when you walked through a neighborhood, security systems signs in yards meant an external company was monitoring your space for triggered alarms. Devices like Ring and Simply Safe changed that by putting control over safety in your hands. Sensors allow you to be notified on your phone when there’s movement near doors or entryways and can also communicate danger to security monitoring services. Further, these devices allow you to communicate to individuals, should you see them, which at the very least informs them the space is monitored, at best makes them believe someone is home.

Smart home electronics

Including, but not limited to, light switches, thermostats, air quality monitors, smoke alarms, outlets, and just about any type of electronic device you find in your home. Through voice activation, these devices allow you to utilize electronics from anywhere in the room. Dim lights or turn them off and on, adjust the temperature, monitor for airborne dangers or fire, and, in general, manipulate your environment to meet your needs without ever having to get up from your chair. In some cases, the devices come with mobile applications so you can adjust lighting and thermostats before you get home!

Smart home appliances

Major home appliances are also joining the IoTs including refrigerators, washer/dryers, ovens, and vacuums. The smart refrigerators enable you to scan recipes, make shopping lists, monitor the temperature, and even access cooking playlists for music while you prepare your meal. Washer/dryers can be started remotely, allowing you to choose times of day when they won’t interfere with other tasks or can save money on electricity costs. Smart ovens can allow you to check cook times remotely and access recipes. And, finally, the programmable remote vacuum that has pet owners singing its praises allows you to run the vacuum at convenient times and map out paths that make its job more efficient.

IoTs devices are also showing up in cars and across multiple sectors in the business world like agriculture (smart watering systems and soil monitors), manufacturing (smart maintenance monitoring tools), computer and IT (smart web services), and more.

What is Edge Computing?

what is edge computing

If cloud computing had the power to change the way we live and work, edge computing infrastructure was the next logical step. Whereas cloud computing relies upon a central server location to store data and equipment, edge computing leverages smaller data centers on the edges of those networks. With cloud computing, all data transmitted must go back and forth from the centralized server which can, at times, create issues with speed and latency.

The relative physical proximity of edge data centers to the end user and their devices enables networks to determine what information must be stored (and sent back to the central server location) and what can, essentially, be disseminated back out to users and devices. As a result, users see increased speeds, reduced latency, and better reliability. These three factors mean that smaller devices can work quickly which is what makes Alexa respond almost immediately when you ask her the weather.

How Does Edge Computing Improve IoT?

IoT devices and edge computing

One of the primary benefits, as noted above, of IoTs devices is the speed with which they respond. What enables them to do this quickly is that they aren’t reliant upon a network transfer to the central server. The device’s sensors and memory determine whether or not data is relevant to send back for storage and if it’s not, it can respond quickly. The device itself becomes part of the network. In turn, this reduces latency and, as an additional benefit, it decreases the amount of data being sent to and from the cloud.

For example, a smart thermostat is monitoring your home throughout the day taking in data. In a traditional cloud infrastructure, the data would be sent back to a centralized server where it’s processed and the server determines what needs to happen with that data. With edge computing, the device takes in the data, matches it to established parameters and only sends the data on if there’s an issue.

Essentially, the device does the data work itself. Again, it is part of the network. This is particularly useful for devices that create and establish parameters (machine learning) such as smart vacuums, smart doorbells, and voice activated appliances. Voice activated devices don’t respond to every word used, but rather keywords and what are called “wake words,” which tell the device to respond. This is why to activate both Alexa and Siri you must use their name first.

Without edge computing capabilities, IoT devices can’t do this kind work at the speeds we’ve come to expect. They wouldn’t be responsive, at least not quickly, and we would lose some of the benefits.

Experience Enhanced Edge Computing with vXchnge

Edge computing no doubt opens the doors for a significant shift in how we use and interact with the devices around us. To be prepared for that, colocation services and strategically located data centers facilitate the network’s ability to respond.

Further, companies hoping to leverage edge computing and the advantages it offers want to partner with a provider who’s not only perfectly situated to respond to edge computing needs, but one who’s also an expert in providing data center and colocation services. You get vXchnge’s commitment to service and transparency, reliability, and 24x7x365 service with remote hands available to address your needs when you have them. 

If you’re looking to leverage the IoT for your business, or want to harness the power and speed of edge computing for your business, get in touch with us today!

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