Date
5 December 2019
Home monitoring devices need low latency and the ability to compute data locally to notify residents quickly of an intrusion or leak. Photo: Reuters
Home monitoring devices need low latency and the ability to compute data locally to notify residents quickly of an intrusion or leak. Photo: Reuters

Uncovering new opportunities with IoT and edge computing

There are places so remote, so harsh that humans can’t safely explore them. These places might have important data that could help us better understand earth and its history, as well as life on other planets. But they usually have little to no internet connection, making the challenge of exploring environments inhospitable for humans seem even more impossible.

According to a recent research from IDC, the Asia Pacific (APAC) region will lead the internet of things market in terms of spending this year, with around 35.7 percent of the global spend, followed by the US and Western Europe with 27.3 percent and 21.2 percent of the total IoT spend in 2019 respectively.

This is an exciting future for IoT in APAC, and it’s closer than you think. Already, IoT is delivering deep and precise insights to improve virtually every aspect of our lives. Here are a few examples:

• IoT sensors in a factory can monitor and predict equipment failure before an accident.
• Healthcare providers can provide remote monitoring of patient health—improving patient care.
• Security cameras can better protect people with real-time notifications.

Challenges in managing connected devices

Because these IoT devices are powered by microprocessors or microcontrollers that have limited processing power and memory, they often rely heavily on the cloud platforms for processing, analytics, storage, and machine learning. But as the number of IoT devices and use cases grow, managing these connected devices becomes a new challenge for many. Sometimes an internet connection is weak or not available at all, as is often the case in remote locations. For some applications, a trip to the cloud and back isn’t possible due to latency requirements.

There’s also the cost to send data to the cloud. Some sensors, like those in factories, are collecting an incredible amount of data, and sending it all to the cloud could get expensive. These barriers are driving some people to the edge.

Here, I’d like to introduce edge computing, which allows to have compute resources and decision-making capabilities in disparate locations often with intermittent or no connectivity to the cloud. In other words, process the data closer to where it’s created.

Where are edge devices?

Edge devices, like gateways or cameras, can act locally on the data they generate, while still using the cloud for management, analytics, durable storage, and more. With edge devices, you can discover the benefits of doing compute and analytics closer to the end user, and even right on devices, such as reduced latency for critical applications, better managing the massive deluge of data generated by the billions of devices, and delivering fast, intelligent, near real-time responsiveness.

Here are a few places you’re likely to see edge technologies at work:

• Remote locations
Edge devices are critical when it comes to accessing data located in remote locations. There may be little to no internet connection or safety may be an issue. Locations could be miles below the surface of the Earth in a mine or an oil well, in the middle of the jungle, or even on another planet. In addition, robots with edge capabilities can keep workers safer by testing and operating in inhospitable and dangerous locations.

For example, InSitu (a division of Boeing) uses edge technologies on drones that capture terabytes of high-resolution images over millions of hours in extremely remote areas like wildfires, strip mines, and desert wellheads.

• Vehicles
Cars and trucks are increasingly gaining the ability to make sense of their environments and even navigate. For example, they can detect another vehicle, use cameras to monitor driver alertness, use voice control to manage car or home settings, or even drive autonomously. These types of advancements require local computing so vehicles and drivers can react in a split second.

• Homes
To provide uninterrupted service, home monitoring devices need low latency and the ability to compute data locally to notify residents quickly of an intrusion or leak. Examples include connected door locks, video doorbells, security cameras, water leak detectors, and connected thermostats.

Looking ahead

Whether you’re trying to discover and explore remote locations, save lives, improve production, or just trying to make the perfect flatbread—IoT and edge technologies help get you there.

We believe that most workloads currently in data centers will be in the cloud and the on-premises infrastructure will be these billions of devices that sit on the edge. This makes the cloud more important than ever as a secured platform for connected devices to aggregate and analyze all the data. Truly understanding this will allow organization to make better decisions, improve end-user experiences, and uncover new opportunities.

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

CTO, Amazon.com