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 and hoverboards (well, not real hoverboards), we do have smart homes that turn on lights upon our arrival, voice commands that control our environment from temperature 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. For companies striving to realize the full potential of the Internet of Things, edge computing is proving to be a valuable resource.
Let's take a closer look at how IoT and edge computing will make it easier than ever to identify inefficiencies, reduce waste, and deliver enhanced services to customers with a greater level of transparency.
The Internet of Things, IoTs for short, is a network of electronic devices equipped with sensors programmed to store, send, and receive 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 IoTs Devices
Many of us likely already have IoTs devices in our homes. They include everything from home systems to appliances, and have become common enough in our everyday lives that we may not even recognize the seamless integration.
Devices Attached to Retailers And Service Providers
These were among the first items to hit the market. Examples of these devices include Amazon’s Alexa, Echo, and Dash devices, which enable consumers to not only order by voice command or through the touch of a button, but also have questions answered or retrieve information from the internet.
Security Systems, Alarms, and doorbell cams
Up until recently, when you walked through a neighborhood, a security systems sign in a yard meant an external company was monitoring that space for triggered alarms. Devices like Ring and Simply Safe changed that by putting control over safety in the home owner's hands.
Sensors notify your devices when there’s movement near doors or entryways, and can also communicate danger to security monitoring services. Additionally, these devices allow you to communicate to individuals, should you see them, which at the very least informs them that the space is monitored, and at best makes them aware that someone is home.
Smart home electronics
Smart home electronics include light switches, thermostats, air quality monitors, smoke alarms, outlets, and just about any type of electronic device you find in your home. Often 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. Smart refrigerators, as they're often referred to, enable you to scan recipes, make shopping lists, adjust the refrigerator temperature, and even access cooking playlists for music while you prepare your meal.
Washer/dryers can be started remotely, and can also be scheduled to run at certain times on certain days. Smart ovens can allow you to check cook times remotely and access recipes.
For pet owners, the programmable remote vacuum has been widely praised, as it allows you to run the vacuum at convenient times and map out paths that make its job more efficient (and steer clear of your furry friends).
Clearly, IOTs devices are prevalent in our day-to-day lives, which makes it easy to believe that companies that produce these devices are searching for ways to improve their performance and efficiency.
Edge computing has quickly become a solution for these companies striving to deliver improved services and products to their customers.
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 mentioned earlier, one of the primary benefits 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 and taking in data throughout the day. 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, a remarkable advancement in the world of electronic devices. 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 “wake words,” which tell the device to respond. This is why to activate both Alexa and Siri, you must say their name first.
Without edge computing capabilities, IoTs devices can’t do this kind of work at the speed we’ve come to expect. They wouldn’t be responsive, or at least not quickly enough, and we would lose some of the benefits we view as standard in today's world.
Experience Enhanced Edge Computing with vXchnge
Without question, edge computing opens the door 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.
Furthermore, 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. That's where vXchnge can be of service.